How to Become a Dental Assistant

BY Dr. McDowell  |  February 25th, 2021
Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..

Looking to begin your dental career? Today we’re talking about one great opportunity open to those that are looking for an entry dental position—the Dental Assistant.

Unlike a dental office’s hygienist or admin worker, a dental assistant directly assists the dentist during operations, inspections, and routine cleanings. It’s a great position to consider if you want to get into the dental industry with minimum schooling. This might be the right position for you. If you’re looking to become a dentist and run your own practice today, then check out this post!

What Do Dental Assistants Do?

On the surface, it might seem like a dental assistant isn’t that important. But, the opposite is actually true! Dental assistants are crucial members of the dental team, and they provide a spectrum of services to support the entire team. Whether the tasks they perform assist the dentist or other administrative staff, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dentist office that doesn’t have at least one dental assistant present.

Across the country, the requirements to become a dental assistant vary greatly. In some states, there are no requirements, and in others, the requirements include schooling. For this reason, some dental assistant’s job descriptions and regular tasks change from state to state.

The Career Path of a Dental Assistant

Deep cleaning teeth with two dentists and a patient in the chair.

Throughout this post, we’re going to refer to the average career path of a dental assistant in the state of Minnesota.

Required Schooling for Dental Assistants

In Minnesota, Dental assistants are required to undergo at least some schooling. While the program is definitely not as extensive as it is for an actual dentist, it is still a program worth noting. You can find a full list of schools across the state that provides dental assistant training on the Minnesota Dental Association’s website. You can additionally find an entire list of dental assistant responsibilities among all of the tasks that go on at a dental office here.

Here are the more specific requirements from the Minnesota Dental Associations website:

Requirements:

Those requirements may seem extensive, but the program is actually relatively short and simple to work your way through. Just be sure to stick with it, or it could end up taking you a little longer than you want it to. Also, be sure to finish up all your exams. This isn’t the type of schooling where you can start and stop as you please. Because all medical professions are always changing, it’s critical that you stay on top of it.

Average Compensation for Dental Assistants in Minnesota

Because Minnesota is one of the states that require formal training to obtain a job, you can also expect that Minnesota has one of the highest average pay rates for dental assistants. It’s currently estimated that there are around 5,630 dental assistants currently working throughout Minnesota. The mean hourly wage is now $23.45, and the mean salary or annual wage is $48,770.

Minnesota beats the national average for compensation by nearly $9,000. That’s a big difference and definitely makes Minnesota a valuable state to work as a certified dental assistant or CDA.

Future Job Opportunities for Dental Assistants

Chart credit to Career Planner:

Dental Assistant Job Outlook

Even with Minnesota having a high median wage for dental assistants, it’s still a lucrative market with regular new openings. As you can imagine, there are always new dental patients to tend to, and in turn, there are always new openings to take care of those patients.

According to the website, Learn How to Become, there are annually 210 new job openings with a current average growth rate of 19.1% in Minnesota. That’s a lot of opportunities when considering that Dental Assistants are a fairly specialized bunch of people.

Next Steps

If you’re still really interested in becoming a dental assistant (as you should be), then here are the next steps that you can take:

From us at Wayzata Dental to anyone out there looking to join us in the dental industry, we wish you the best of luck!

Dr. McDowell
Dr. McDowell has always been focused on using the latest technology to improve the patient experience. From radiation-free imaging to laser dentistry, he has always been ahead of the curve and is dedicated to improving the practice of dentistry one ..

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