Should You Become a Dental Assistant?

Are you considering going to school to gain marketable career skills?

One career-training path that could work for you would be going to dental assistant school. Dental assistants are the professionals who welcome you into a dental office, show you to your room, and provide assistance to the dentist or hygienist while they work.

Dental assistant training is not the same as dentistry school or dental hygienist school. While dentists and dental hygienists require years of training, a dental assistant program is a short job training program that can be completed in less than one year. It prepares you for entry level work in a dentist office.

Here’s a quick Q and A to help you understand this career path:

What do dental assistants do?

They perform and interesting array of tasks throughout the working day. During any given day on the job, they might:

  • Welcome patients
  • Make appointments
  • Get the exam room ready for a new patient
  • Sterilize the instruments and equipment
  • Assist the dentist or dental hygienist during procedures
  • Check inventory and place orders for needed materials
  • Work in the dental lab

What are the benefits of this career path?

People choose to become this career path for many reasons. Some like the professional atmosphere of a dentist’s office. Others like the hours—usually you would work daytime hours, with some weekend or evening hours. Others truly enjoy knowing that they are part of a professional team that is helping patients with their dental health and improving their smiles.

What are dental assistant requirements?

To get trained, you should enroll in an accredited training program. Most dental assisting programs are non-degree programs, and typically the programs require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent (like a GED) in order to enroll. You may find that community colleges, trade schools, and private career schools offer programs near you. Make sure the program you choose has a strong reputation in your community and offers you plenty of hands-on experiences so that you feel confident with your new skills.

How much do dental assistants make?

The salary and wages for this career vary throughout the country, and depend on factors such as your level of experience, your geographical location, and the size of the dental practice where you work. To get a sense of how much you might earn, check the Occupational Outlook Handbook. There’s a section on “dental assistant pay” which may give you an idea of what you can expect.

Are there dental assistant jobs?

If you decide to get training, you should try to research whether there are jobs in your area. Start by doing a search using an online job site like Indeed or Career Builder. You can also view the job outlook in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Currently the handbook is predicting an 18% growth in the employment of dental assistants between 2014 and 2024. This positive growth rate is one reason why people are choosing this career path.


We hope this article provides you with the facts you need about this career path. For residents of the Orlando area, be sure to check out our program at the American College for Medical Careers. We hope your new career journey begins with us!