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Is Becoming A Dental Assistant The Best Career Move For You?

It’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages in approaching any career path to determine if it is the right move for you. If you’re wondering if becoming a dental assistant is the right career move, you will need to:


You need to be sure that the daily duties of a dental assistant are something you can find comfort and enjoyment in. Even if the work hours or salary look good, it’s important that you don’t burn out quickly, as career decisions are a long-term commitment. Be sure to consider every aspect of the life of a dental assistant before deciding if it’s the right career move for you.

Pros and Cons of a Career in Dental Assisting

There are pros and cons to any career and this is no different with dental assisting. Here’s a quick look at the major pros and cons of a career in dental assisting.

Pros of Being a Dental Assistant

  • Reasonable starting salary
  • Short duration for training, schooling, and certification
  • Strong job security
  • Job outlook is great over the next ten years
  • Great benefits with most employers
  • Comfortable working environment

Cons of Being a Dental Assistant

  • Much lower paying than most other dentistry careers
  • More experienced dental assistants see little salary growth
  • Sometimes have to deal with upset patients
  • Regularly have to see and clean up blood and puss

Depending on your own personal values, some of these pros and cons will be of major importance, while others will be of little consideration.

It’s up to you to weigh each of these major pros and cons and decide if any of them could make or break dental assisting as a possible career move. Choosing a career is a decision that should not be made lightly and while a career in dental assisting has many great prospects, you should take the time to educate yourself and make sure that it’s the best career move for you and your goals before moving forward.

Job Pay for Dental Assistants

How does the pay look for dental assistants? Dental assisting as a career pays fairly well considering the low educational requirements (none, or a 1-2 years dental assisting program), and a relatively simple certification process.

According to DANB’s 2010 Salary Survey, a DANB certified dental assistant is expected to make $18.50 an hour on average while a non-DANB certified dental assistant is expected to make $16.46 an hour. Most dental assistants will receive competitive benefits as well which typically cover paid vacations and health insurance.

Becoming a dental assistant will open you up to the possibility of moving up with further education and experience. This means that there is room for an increased salary if you are dedicated to upgrading within this field. Some possible career upgrades for a dental assistant include working towards becoming a dental hygienist or a dental office manager. With each of these career choices you can easily achieve a starting salary of $25 to $30 an hour after completing all of the requirements.

Job Outlook for Dental Assistants

To ensure a dental assisting career is a sound investment, you will not only have to look at the pay rate but the job outlook as well. While this includes looking at your options for upward mobility, such as becoming a dental hygienist or dental office manager, your primary goal in this evaluation should be to determine if there are dental assistant jobs available in your area, or in areas you would consider moving to.

The facts on the job outlook for dental assistants speak for themselves. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, there is an expected job growth of 31% between 2010 and 2020 for dental assistants. This means an anticipated 91,600 new employment opportunities in the United States for dental assistants.

These numbers indicate that job availability as well as job security for dental assistants will be well above average compared to other occupations over the next decade. In fact, the expected growth is 17% more than the average expected growth for all occupations in the country. With the demand for dental assistants expected to rise significantly over the next 10 years, it’s also reasonable to forecast an increase in average dental assistant salary.