What You Need to Know About Dental Assisting

Dental Assistant Career Outlook

Are you interested in a career in dental assisting but want to know more about the field before you commit to something long term? Sounds reasonable. Read on to find out what a career in dental assisting looks like as well as salary averages, certification/licensure requirements and the basics of dental assisting training.

What do dental assistants do?

Dental assistants have many tasks, ranging from providing patient care and taking X-rays to recordkeeping and scheduling appointments. Their duties vary by state and by the dental offices where they work. Some of their tasks may include:

Scheduling appointments for patients
Maintaining patient records
Assisting dentists with procedures
Processing X-rays
Sterilizing dental equipment
Instructing patients on proper dental hygiene

What is the work environment like?

Dental assistants may work with dental hygienists and/or dental laboratory technicians. They work in private dental offices, dental schools, hospitals, clinics and public health settings. Job duties and career settings in this field may vary, but work environments are engaging as you are able to interact with both patients and coworkers.

On a typical day, a dental assistant who performs laboratory duties may:

  • Make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions
  • Clean and polish removable appliances
  • Make temporary crowns

On a typical day, a dental assistant who performs office duties may:

  • Schedule and confirm appointments
  • Receive patients
  • Keep treatment records
  • Send bills and receive payments
  • Order supplies and materials

Career outlook and annual salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for dental assistants is expected to grow 25% from 2012 to 2022.* Because of ongoing research that links oral health to overall general health, the demand for preventive dental services will continue to grow.

In May 2012, the median annual wage for dental assistants was $34,500. However, salaries vary depending on region.

What do you learn during dental assistant training?

Throughout dental assisting training, you can have the opportunity to learn varied tasks, including:

  • Vital sign checks
  • CPR
  • Instrument sterilization and prep
  • Oral inspections
  • X-rays
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Patient education
  • Scheduling
  • Patient charts
  • Records and supply maintenance
  • Accounts payable and fee collections
  • Insurance forms

What licensing or certifications are required?

Dental assistant certifications and licensing vary by state. Most states restrict the procedures a dental assistant can perform, and some require dental assistants to graduate from a dental assisting program and pass a licensing exam. Professional certification is also available through the Dental Assisting National Board and is recognized in most states.



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Lucy Vang | Medical Assistant Graduate

“Concorde was one of my best vehicles that helped me gain the confidence I needed to change my life. … It all started with a vision, a will and Concorde.”

Kontessa Brown | Dental Assisting Graduate

“I think it’s an amazing school. When I sat down for boards, I felt more than adequately prepared. If you put the work in, your success is almost guaranteed.”

Trenisha Jones | Dental Assistant Graduate

“I decided to go to school because I was tired of working dead-end jobs. … When I found out I was pregnant, I realized that I needed a better life for me, for my child, for my husband, and just to better myself.”

Randall Hines | Polysomnographic Technologist Graduate

“I think it’s an amazing school. When I sat down for boards, I felt more than adequately prepared. If you put the work in, your success is almost guaranteed.”

Michelle Cardona | Dental Assistant graduate

“Literally a year-and-a-half ago, I was struggling to make ends meet and barely surviving. Now I have a career, make good money, and life gets better every day. I have recommended friends and family go to Concorde, because in as few as nine months, your life can completely change for the better.”