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Dental Assistants

Dental Assistants
Quick Facts : Dental Assistants*
2010 Median Pay$33,470
Entry Level EducationPostsecondary non-degree award
Work Experience in Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 2012297,200
Job Outlook31% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change91,600

Dental assistants take on a variety of responsibilities in a dental office from record keeping to assisting dentists in procedures. Their duties vary not only by dentist?s office but also on the state the work in so requirements for the positions will also be different. Assistants who do lab tasks, such as making casts of a patient?s teeth, work under the direction of a dentist. They might prepare materials for a cast of teeth or create temporary crowns.

What Dental Assistants Do

  • Prepare the work area for patient treatment by setting out instruments and materials
  • Help dentists by handing them instruments during procedures
  • Instruct patients in proper dental hygiene
  • Process x rays and do lab tasks under the direction of a dentist
  • Work with patients on billing and payment

Work Environment

Almost all dental assistants work in dentists' offices. More than half work full time.
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Job Outlook

Employment of dental assistants is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020 because as dental practices grow, more dental assistants will be needed.
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The average salary of dental assistants in May 2010 was $33,470.
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Dental Assistants*
Average Annual Salary, May 2010

Dental Assistants


Healthcare Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.

Dental Assistants*
Percent Change in Employment

Dental Assistants


Healthcare Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.


Becoming a Dental Assistants

There are several possible paths to becoming a dental assistant. Usually graduating from an accredited program is required and possibly pass a state exam. In some states, there are no formal educational requirements but most regulate what dental assistants may do, but that varies by state.
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