Caris College Dental Assisting students

Career Choices for Dental Assistants

Completing your education to become a dental assistant could be a more versatile career path than you realize. Once you complete dental assistant school at Caris College, you may be able to explore a wider range of careers than you anticipated. If you love working with people and want to support the work of other dental professionals, there could be a few career path options available to you.

There are various specialties in dental assistants. Though your degree and certification will prepare you to work in many of these areas, you may wish to tailor your education to meet the specific goals you have. Here’s a look at a few of the pathways you can choose.

Dental Assistant

In its most traditional form, a dental assistant position is one path. In this situation, you’ll work in a dental office providing one-on-one support to dentists while performing some duties yourself. This may involve working side-by-side with a dentist to complete tasks like creating dental impressions, managing dental equipment, and working with patients during procedures. The entry level pay for this position may be lower, but the 2021 median pay for those working in this field is $18.59 per hour, according to the BLS.

Certified Dental Assistant

A certified dental assistant works within a dental office for a period of time before they work on their own. They also have completed the national certification exam to ensure they have the necessary skills to perform these tasks. Once you complete this education and certification, you may work with patients on your own, completing some procedures, such as basic cleanings and exams, with oversight from a dentist.

Expanded Duties Dental Assistant

Some individuals work as an expanded duties dental assistant or EDDA. This is a state-licensed position that allows individuals to perform some specific tasks that other dental assistants do not perform. This may include tasks such as placing sealants and various types of fillings. You may complete additional training and certifications to complete this type of work, dependent on state laws. Most often, individuals have worked as certified dental assistants for at least two years before being qualified to handle this more specialized position.

Dental Assistant Instructor

Perhaps you love the work of dental assistant positions, but you want to help others. If you love teaching, you may want to pursue a career as a dental assistant instructor. This type of work involves teaching others the basics of this career path. It may also mean working in the educational side of this career path. For many people who have years in the field, this can be a good move to allow them to teach others. A dental assistant instructor may teach topics such as dental tools use, dental record keeping, radiology, patient interaction, and provide hands-on instruction for various procedures.

Dental Office Business Team Administrator

Sometimes referred to as an office manager, today’s dental office business team administrator does a much higher level of work. They manage tasks such as scheduling patient appointments, managing dental office finances, keeping records, and tracking patient payments. They may assist in filing insurance claims and managing the patient-dentist experience. Many times, they need office computer skills, good communication skills, and a solid understanding of dental terminology, procedures, and bookkeeping.

Dental Sales Representative

Another career path option for many is to work in sales rather than working with patients. A dental sales representative has a more challenging job but in different ways. They typically make sure dental offices receive the supplies, technology, and equipment they need to maintain the dental facility. Since technology and equipment in this field are always changing, it is an important role in many ways. Sales reps work to ensure their offices have the very best possible while also ensuring that supplies are delivered on time to dentists so they can perform the work they need to. This is a sales-oriented position.

Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist is a professional that works with dental patients to provide teeth cleaning and other types of preventative dental care. If you are a dental assistant, which means you’ve completed your education in this area, you may then receive additional training and education to work as a hygienist. It is often necessary to have good people skills in this field. You’ll also learn how to use x-ray machines, perform full examinations, and use various methods for teeth cleaning.

If you are considering any of these roles, completing a dental assisting program may be the route for you. With it, you can begin to work in the field within a short period of time, allowing you to expand your education as you go. Over time, you could be working in a range of positions that interest you, allowing you to enjoy a career that’s best suited for your abilities and interests.