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Dental Assistant

Dental assistants have many tasks, ranging from patient care to record keeping, within a dental office. Dental assistants are a vital link between the patient and the dentist by handing off materials and instruments and keeping the mouth dry and clear for dental work. Coursework prepares dental assistants to do some procedures, as well as handle the business operations of the dental office.

Since dental assistants are in high demand, employment options may include both full-time and part-time positions.

Important Qualities

Detail-oriented: Dental assistants must follow specific rules and protocols to help dentists treat patients. Assistants must also be aware of what practices they are allowed to do in the state where they work.

Interpersonal skills: Dental assistants must work closely with dentists and patients. Sometimes patients are in extreme pain or mental distress and the assistant must be sensitive to their emotions.

Listening skills: Dental assistants must have good listening skills. They need to follow directions from a dentist or dental hygienist so they can help treat patients and complete tasks such as taking an X-ray.

Organizational skills: Dental assistants must have excellent organizational skills. They should have the correct tools in place for a dentist or dental hygienist to use when treating patients.

Course Length:

  • Career-Readiness Training: 1 week
  • Pre-Training: 1 week
  • Dental Assistant Course Training: 38 weeks (7.60 months)
  • Total Training Length: 40 weeks (10 months)

Potential Starting Wage: $11 to $15 per hour

Average Total Number Employed^: 1,214

Average Number of Openings Each Year^: 59

^Wage and employment estimates for the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA), was accessed using the Oklahoma Wage Network (OWN) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [April 26, 2015] [].

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HPOG-Grantee-Badge_3.png#asset:465This document was supported by Grant 90FX0045-01-01 from the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS. HPOG is a study funded by the federal government which is being conducted to determine how these training opportunities help improve their skills and find better jobs. During the study, all new eligible applicants will be selected by lottery to participate in these training opportunities. Not all eligible applicants will be selected to participate in these opportunities. Learn more about HPOG.