Considerations Necessary Before Becoming A Dental Assistant

Posted on: 2 September 2021

Any path in the medical field requires a significant investment of both time and money, but the rewards are worth it for most. While many people dream of being a doctor or dentist, the assistants often are in greater need. Dental assistants can grow their experience and become specialized in many areas while making money. With the variety of options available, you will want to keep the following considerations in mind before embarking on your journey.

Understand the Education Path

While some states will allow you to meet educational requirements with shadowing in an office, it is best if you complete courses. During high school or college, consult with your local dental offices to determine if an associate or bachelor's degree is necessary for a position. The steps are likely: 

  • Step 1 – Earn a high school degree
  • Step 2 – Enroll in a dental assistant program while attending college (you will decide on a specialty in this step)
  • Step 3 – Apply to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam for certification.
  • Step 4 – Prepare for the exam
  • Step 5 – Pass the exam
  • Step 6 – Obtain a job with a dental office
  • Step 7 – Maintain your certification, which will require you to renew your membership

Understand What Dental Assistants Do

Now that you have seen the education required to be a dental assistant, you might be asking yourself what they actually do every day. Their duties will vary based on the office, but they provide hands-on support to the dentists. You may find yourself filing paperwork and sterilizing tools, but you may also assist with cleaning, performing dental x-rays, and advising patients on oral care. The more education you have, the more support you can provide your boss.

Training Programs Available

If you have decided that two- or four-year colleges are not for you, accelerated training programs are available to obtain the necessary education for a dental assistant position. These programs allow you to get a job faster but limit your ability to further your education later. Classes are completed within a year, so they are intense and require discipline. Expect to cover all of the same skills as you would in a two-year program, including:

  • Oral anatomy
  • Radiographing
  • Dental tools and products
  • Assistant requirements, including handling emergencies

Dental assistants can help dentists treat thousands of people annually. If you have a strong desire to assist in the medical field, have strong administrative skills, and have an excellent chairside manner, this career path may be the one for you. Reach out to a professional who provides dental assistant training services to learn more.