Have you ever thought about becoming a dental assistant? Dental assistants have an excellent employment outlook, and can expect to start out around $13-$14/hr. They can also move up through the ranks to become a dental hygienist or even attend dental school.
Dental assistants assist in the dentist’s office. They take care of equipment and instruments. They sanitize instruments and prepare them for use. They also keep track of equipment inventory levels; prepare cements, composites, casts and dies. They deal with patients during emergencies, take X-rays, apply dressings, polish teeth, and take dental impressions and bite samples. Aside from the medical work, they may assist in clerical operations. They may set appointments, greet patients, and do light bookkeeping. They prepare and manage patient charts, file, and answer phones as needed.
Education for a dental assistant is minimal, and many receive on the job training. Vocational schools frequently offer dental assistant programs for a low price. These are flexible programs catered toward working adults and usually only last a few months. One of the advantages to these programs is a placement office that helps students transition.
In the absence of a college placement office, check your local paper for job listings. Smaller community papers are better than big metropolitan ones. There is less competition. Check community websites for job listings. Again, advertisements that have little exposure translate to less competition. Call employment agencies to see if they have any openings. Since dental assisting is partly clerical, employment agencies do list them. Big websites like Craigslist, Monster and jobs.com advertise job openings, but it is difficult for an entry level candidate to get noticed.
Remember: 80% of the job market is underground. Using your phone book, you can call dentists’ offices, hospitals, and clinics to ask if they have any openings. If they do not, ask if they know anyone who does. Network. Ask friends and family if they know of any openings. If they don’t, ask them to keep their eyes open for you.
Set up informational interviews, especially if you are still in a dental assisting program. Informational interviews are interviews with a dentist, not for a job, but for the purpose of getting information about the job, the industry, and employer expectations. It is also a way to begin networking. You could possibly tap into the hidden market through these interviews. If not, at least you know better where and how to start.