Though their specific duties vary state to state, all dental assistants have one thing one common: their responsibility is to assist dentists in performing procedures. This includes sterilizing instruments and maintaining a clean and organized area around the patient. They also teach patients how to properly care for their teeth and make sure they are comfortable before, during, and after the procedure. Some facilities may also have dental assistants perform clerical duties in the front office. A calm, trustworthy demeanor is helpful in soothing nervous patients. Depending on the state that they work in, dental assistants may also be authorized to take the patient blood pressure and help in the application of anesthesia.
The requirements to become a dental assistant vary from state to state. Some states require certification and successful completion of an exam. Others states do not have such requirements; dental assistants in these areas learn on the job or at a community college. Job opportunities are expected to grow more than 25% through 2022 as dental health awareness increases and a large portion of the population reaches senior status.
Hundreds of dental practices use Criteria Corp's pre-employment tests to help them find the most qualified dental assistants. Personality tests such as the Customer Service Aptitude Profile (CSAP) and the Employee Personality Profile (EPP) are used to help select dental assistants who will have cooperative, patient-friendly personalities. Communication and attention to detail are very important traits to measure to evaluate job readiness, and to do so, the Criteria Basic Skills Test (CBST) is commonly used. The CBST contains a specific suggested score range for dental assistants.
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Rank in HireSelect:
19 out of 1,100
Median wage in U.S.:
$36,260/year or $17.43/hr
Expected growth rate 2012-2022:
Number employed (2014): 314,330
Education level of Dental Assistants: