Are you wondering how to become a dental assistant but don’t know where to begin?
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!
How To Become A Dental Assistant
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
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:
- Graduated after September 2004 from a Minnesota dental assisting program that is (1) accredited by the American Dental Associations Commission on Accreditation and (2) approved by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry.
- Passed, within 5 years prior to application for licensure, the Minnesota Dental Assistant State Licensure Examination.
- Passed, within 5 years prior to application for licensure, the Minnesota Jurisprudence Examination covering the statutes and rules of the Minnesota Board of Dentistry.
- Passed, within 5 years prior to application for licensure, the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certification Exam.
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
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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.
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:
- Find a program or School near you.
- Complete an internship or externship with an office.
- Choose your focus (all dental assistants can specialize in different areas).
- Complete certification and licensing requirements.
- Land your dream job!