Dental assistants are a crucial part of the health care industry. They provide a wide variety of services, including caring for patients, technical office work, and laboratory work. Unlike dental hygienists, dental assistants do not give preventative care to patients (such as teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, etc.), nor do dental assistants instruct patients on maintaining positive oral health. Dental assistants do not need the more rigorous certification that hygienists need, but dental assistants can increase their employability by passing the Certified Dental Assistant exam (CDA) issued by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB).
Alaska Dental Assistant Schools Enrolling Now
Alaska Dental Assistant Education
Training to become a dental assistant is generally given in an on the job setting. Programs in dental assisting do exist at community colleges, junior colleges, technical schools, trade programs, and through Military service. Dental assistants can be expected to take classes in fields such as chemistry, biology, health sciences, and office or clerical work.
Dental Assistant Duties and Responsibilities in Alaska
Dental assistants must be dependable individuals that can work under a supervisor (e.g. a dentist), and get along well with coworkers. Manual dexterity is important as well. Depending on which state they work in, dental assistants may be required to register or license themselves, or pass an exam such as the CDA. Some dental assistants may need certification to give x-rays. This radiological certification can be completed through the Radiation Heath and Safety exam given by the DANB. Some states require passing a radiology course approved by the state.
Alaska Salary Outlook
In the United States, Dental assistants earned an average of about $16.09 per hour in 2010, which amounts to about $33,470 per year. On average, Alaskan dental assisting professionals earn a higher yearly income of approximately $41,970. Dental assistants can advance within their profession, some become dental assisting instructors or sales representatives, while others become managers of dental offices. Dental assistants may need to pursue further education to complete these career advancements; education is also needed to become a dental hygienist. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation of dental assisting will grow steady through 2020, creating a wide need for dental assistants. (Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.)
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