Are you looking for a well-paid career? Would you like to work in an environment where you get to help people every day?
Becoming a dental assistant is a very rewarding opportunity. On top of that, it’s far less time-consuming and difficult than becoming a dentist.
If you don’t mind working with patients and aren’t grossed out by mouths, you might make a perfect dental assistant.
Wondering about dental assistant hourly pay? There are a lot of factors that determine what you can make as a dental assistant.
Want to discover the average dental assistant salary? Want to see what it takes to become a dental assistant? Keep reading to find out.
Dental Assistant Duties
Before diving into what a dental assistant makes per hour and per year, it’s important to consider what the role and responsibilities of dental assistants are. This will provide a better context for the salary.
As a dental assistant, you are the right hand of the dentist. The dentist is the one who can diagnose patients, recommend treatment plans, and facilitate procedures.
But as an assistant, you get to help with all of it. For starters, you’ll be the patient’s point of contact after passing through the waiting room. It’s up to you to make them feel comfortable since most people hate being at the dentist.
You then get to examine the patient and gather their dental and medical history, updating records. You’ll discuss concerns and pain points that the patient is experiencing and create an initial report for the dentist.
Basically, anything you can do to save the dentist time will be your responsibility. That means you’ll also take x-ray photos of the patient’s teeth, which are then shown to the dentist.
When a teeth cleaning is required, you’ll be the one to handle this simple, non-invasive procedure. And when in-depth procedures are required, such as fillings or extractions, you’ll be right there working hand in hand with the dentist to ensure a smooth, fast operation.
It’s a fast-paced environment that requires you to be always be prepared, always anticipating the needs of the dentist, and always communicating with and making customers feel safe.
Dental Assistant Hourly Pay
As a dental assistant, you’re a lot more involved with patients than, say, the receptionist. There’s a lot of weight and responsibility on your shoulders.
So what’s the dental assistant average salary? According to the ADAA (American Dental Assistants Association), dental assistants make a mean annual salary between $31,100 and $49,000. That comes out to about $15 to $23 per hour.
Some of the lowest-paying states include Alabama, New Mexico, and Utah. Some of the highest paying states include Minnesota, North Dakota, and Virginia.
Factors That Affect Dental Assistant Pay
So why the large variation when it comes to paying for the same job? Well, it’s the same as many other industries and jobs. In different states and different regions, you can earn much more or much less.
This could be due to a low population in certain areas. Or it can be due to certain states being generally poorer than others. For example, one of the lowest-paying states is New Mexico, which is the third poorest state in the country.
You’ll also see variation depending on the city you work in. Generally, those working in larger cities are going to earn more than those working in suburban or rural areas. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to more money, as the cost of living in large cities is also higher.
You can also expect to earn more as your experience level grows. Those who are brand new to the field will earn less, while dental assistants with 20 years of experience can earn much more.
Dental Assistant Job Benefits
As a dental assistant working in a standard office, you can expect benefits such as paid vacation, which is a big bonus. Dental offices generally close on holidays as well as offering holiday pay to employees.
You can expect to have access to a retirement plan with a potential company match. You should also get a quality medical and dental insurance policy, as well as paid sick leave.
On top of that, if you love working with people, you get the benefit of creating a special experience for your patients. Again, most people loathe coming to the dentist.
You have the opportunity to provide an incredible experience so that they aren’t afraid of coming back. Plus, you get to help people live healthier lives, which adds to the overall job fulfillment.
And since dentists are located in every town and city around the country, there will always be opportunities for you should you decide to move. Dental assistant jobs aren’t limited to certain geographic areas like many jobs.
How to Become a Dental Assistant
Ready to get started on your path to becoming a dental assistant? The first step is getting an education and getting certified.
In some places, you can get a dental assistant job without a formal education. Training on the job is provided. However, your capabilities will be limited, as will your income potential.
Instead, opt for a certification program with the opportunity to learn expanded functions. Check out ultimatemedical.edu for a flexible education that combines online learning with hands-on sessions.
You can choose to get just a diploma or take your education further by getting an associate’s degree through the program. Generally, the more education and certifications you have, the more you’ll be able to earn as a dental assistant.
Once graduated from your program, you can apply for your license and certificate with your state, authorizing you to work as a dental assistant. You can also choose to complete an externship after your program to further your experience in a dental clinic and boost your resume.
Dental Assistants are In High Demand
Dental assistants are in high demand. Due to the amount of work they can do to help dentists out, they aren’t going to become irrelevant any time soon.
And since dental assistant hourly pay is comparable to many other well-paid career paths, it’s an option worth considering.
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