A passion for helping others and a love for completing challenging tasks are just two of the many qualities you'll need to become a dental assistant. For many, a visit to the dentist is one they dread. In most cases, this fear is caused by the unexpected.
Others might have had a bad experience in the past. No matter what someone's reasoning for their fears might be, as an amazing dental assistant, you can help ease these fears and have patients lining up to schedule their next appointment! Becoming a dental assistant takes a lot of hard work, however.
There are schooling and training requirements you must meet, but with so many great reasons to become a dental assistant, you'll want to start down the path to a dental career as soon as possible. In the guide below, you'll learn how to become a dental assistant in just a few simple steps.
Continue reading below to find out everything you need to know.
1. Prepare as Early as Possible
The first step in preparing to become a dental assistant is to start your preparation right now. Even as a high-school student, you can begin the path to your dental career by taking all the required school courses and graduating with a high-school diploma or receiving your GED. You should then know what to expect when choosing this career path.
If you have an upcoming dentist appointment, then be sure to watch the dental assistant carefully. Take notes on how they interact with you and all the different tasks they complete as well. As a dental assistant, you can expect to schedule appointments for the patients, prepare them for their visit or treatment, sterilize equipment, take x-rays, and much more.
If you believe you'd enjoy doing these things, then this might be the right career for you.
2. Start Your Training
Once you know this is what you want to do, you should then start your training. Not all states require the same type of qualifications, but it's a good idea to get the highest level of training possible to catch the eyes of potential employers. Do a quick search and know what your state's requirements are.
Then, make sure to go above and beyond. Remember, you'll be competing against other applicants who might have more experience than you, so you want to provide the best application possible. In most cases, you'll have an open to complete a program or obtain a degree.
Dental assistant certification programs, such as the UMA dental assistant training program, usually take about three months to one year. If you choose to receive your associate's degree in dental hygiene, then you can expect to put in two years of dedication.
3. Gain Experience
Externships for dental assistants are optional. However, if given the opportunity to complete one, do so. Many employers will like to see experience over schooling.
Unfortunately, for those recently graduating from a program, there's not much experience to show. If you complete an externship, however, you then have the experience to show potential employers. Externships can also get you in the door at the office you complete them in if you enjoy your time there.
Another benefit of completing an externship is it gives you hands-on experience working in the office and doing all the tasks you's be doing as an employee. You can then take this time to decide if this is something you truly want to do.
4. Apply for Dental-Assistant Positions
Once you've finished your externship and decided you want to further your career as a dental assistant, it's then time to apply for dental-assistant positions. When starting the application process, be prepared to see many employers asking for applicants to have a year or more of experience. As mentioned before, this can be difficult for recent grads with no experience.
If you received supervised training during your schooling or completed an externship, then many jobs allow you to use these towards your years of experience. Otherwise, you should apply for a few entry-level positions. These are the positions you have a better chance of getting hired for.
They also allow you some time to adjust to your new career. Once you've been in the entry-level position for enough time to make you feel comfortable in the office, you can then choose to advance your career and apply for higher-up positions.
5. Take Your Career One Step Further
One of the great things about finding a career in dental hygiene is there's always room to grow. After several years of working as a dental assistant, you might be ready to take things a step further and challenge yourself more. To become a dental hygienist or a dentist, you'll need to complete a more advanced degree.
This is something you can do while working as a dental assistant. Many schools and programs allow you to take most courses online if not all. If you already have your associate's degree at this time, then you should be able to transfer the credits and build up to a bachelor's degree.
The experience you have in the office as a dental assistant will also help you succeed in your advanced dental career.
You Can Become a Dental Assistant With these Steps
Making the decision to become a dental assistant is a great choice! You'll benefit in many ways once you're able to start working in the office. If you believe this is the right career for you, then start down your path to success by following the steps listed above.
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