Dental Assistant Shortages Mean Lots of Job Opportunities

Dental Assistant Shortages Mean Lots of Opportunities

If you’re thinking about becoming a dental assistant, now’s the time to take the leap. That’s because there has rarely been as high a demand for dental assistants as there is now. In fact, according to a recent report published by CareerBuilder, dental assisting is projected to have the eighth largest worker shortage amongst healthcare jobs over the next five years. The “employment gap” — the difference between the number of jobs available and the number of available qualified workers for those jobs — for dental assistants is expected to be a nearly 35,000 between 2013 and 2018, as shown in the list below.

Top 10 Health Care Occupations With Worker Shortages (2013-2018):

  1. Registered Nurses: 264,683
  2. Licensed Practical Nurses: 106,416
  3. Nursing Assistants: 103,697
  4. Home Health Aides: 69,081
  5. Medical Assistants: 47,843
  6. Pharmacists: 39, 972
  7. Pharmacy Technicians: 35,532
  8. Dental Assistants: 34,925
  9. Physicians and Surgeons: 33,498
  10. Emergency Medical Technicians: 27,354

There is actually a shortage of healthcare jobs in general, due to an increase in the number of older Americans — specifically those born during the post-World War II “baby boom” that occurred between 1946 and 1964. As of 2008, that amounted to more than 77 million people. Additionally, with improvements in medical techniques, medicines and technologies, people are living longer, with life expectancy in the US about eight years higher now than it was in 1970.

With the number of patients increasing — one study found that dental emergency visits alone nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010 — the number of dental assistants must rise to keep pace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of dental assistants will increase by 31% in the decade between 2010 and 2020, but that still won’t be enough to meet demand.

The bright side of this predicament, of course, is that recent graduates and experienced dental assistants looking for a job shouldn’t have to look too hard to find work. There’s perhaps no better evidence of the need than the fact that only 2% of dental assistants are currently unemployed, compared to 7% for all professions.

(Sources: CareerBuilder,, The Washington Post, American Dental Association, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,