Dental assistants perform many tasks, ranging from providing patient care and taking x rays to recordkeeping and scheduling appointments. Their duties vary by state and by the dentists’ offices where they work.
Almost all dental assistants work in dentists’ offices. Most work full time.
How to Become a Dental Assistant
There are several possible paths to becoming a dental assistant. Some states require assistants to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. In other states, there are no formal educational requirements.
Employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will likely continue to increase the demand for preventive dental services.
This occupation supported 303,200 jobs in 2012 and 318,800 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 5.1%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 24.5% in 2022 to 377,600 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 318,000, compared with an observed value of 318,800, 0.3% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 19.3% in 2024 to 377,400 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 392,400 jobs for 2024, 4.0% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.