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Dental Assistants picture    Dental Assistants image

Dental assistants are part of a dental care team and work under the direction of dentists. A dental assistant's job is characterized by a significant variety of tasks, including assisting dentists with various treatment procedures, examining the patient before the dentist, and a large number of other technical tasks. 

Dental Assistant Schools, Training and Licensing

Nearly half (46%) of dental assistants receive most or all of their training on-the-job. The remainder receive formal post-secondary education from either accredited dental assisting programs or accredited vocational/technical educational institutions. Most of these programs are one year or less in duration and lead to a certificate or diploma. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accredits more than 260 dental assistant training programs.

Most states have some level of regulation over the duties that dental assistants are allowed to perform. Others require licensure or registration. Licensure or registration may require passing a written and/or practical examination. Over 30 states recognize or require certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Where not required, Dental assistants may pursue voluntary certification with the DANB. The DANB offers three certifications:

  1. Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), which requires passing the three components of the CDA examination (General Chairside (GC), Infection Control (ICE), and Radiation Health and Safety (RHS))
  2. Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), which requires passing the two components of the COA examination (Orthodontic Assisting (OA), and Infection Control (ICE))
  3. Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator (CDPMA), which requires passing either the CDPMA-1 exam, or he CDPMA-2 exam

Dental Assistant Job Characteristics

Dental assistants work in clean and comfortable office settings, often "chairside" working with a dentist. Dental assistants must wear protective clothing and devices (gloves, masks, eyewear) when working with patients during dental procedures to protect both themselves and their patients from infections.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS), approximately half of dental assistants work part time. The other half work an average of 35 to 40 hours a week. The dental assistant job may include work on nights and Saturdays. Many dental assistants work part time in several dental offices or clinics.

Opinions of dentists also support the assumption of strong demand for dental assistants. In an American Dental Association (ADA) survey nearly 46% of dentists found the supply of dental assistants to be inadequate. More than half felt that this shortage was impacting quality of care to patients (Source: 2005 Survey of Dental Practice-Employment of Dental Practice Personnel, ADA).

Resources for Dental Assistants

Major Dental Assistant Employers

The vast majority of dental assistants work in dentist's offices (solo and group practices). Other "traditional" practice areas may include clinics, hospital dental clinics, as well as dental school clinics. According to the ADA, other career opportunities include:

  • Insurance companies to process dental claims
  • Teaching in schools which may require an associate or baccalaureate college degree
  • Sales of dental products

Dental Assistant Terminology

  • ADA - American Dental Association
  • CODA - Commission on Dental Accreditation
  • CDA - Certified Dental Assistant
  • CDPMA - Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator
  • COA - Certified Orthodontic Assistant
  • Dental Radiographs- x-rays
  • DANB - Dental Assisting National Board

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Dental Assistants

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Dental Assistants jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 970 $32,970
Birmingham 970 $32,970
Huntsville 310 $29,510
Mobile 270 $27,630
Montgomery 240 $26,020
Tuscaloosa 200 $30,830
Fairhope 170 $31,780
Foley 170 $31,780
Daphne 170 $31,780
Dothan 150 $33,380
Decatur 110 $31,010
Anniston 100 $35,180
Oxford 100 $35,180
Jacksonville 100 $35,180
Florence 90 $28,580
Muscle Shoals 90 $28,580
Auburn 70 $30,650
Opelika 70 $30,650
Gadsden 50 $32,920
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 730 $45,660
Fairbanks 180 $38,530
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 4850 $36,630
Mesa 4850 $36,630
Phoenix 4850 $36,630
Tucson 980 $33,960
Flagstaff 200 $32,150
Prescott 150 $34,620
Yuma 110 $32,490
Douglas 100 $39,350
Sierra Vista 100 $39,350
Lake Havasu City N/A $32,580
Kingman N/A $32,580
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 650 $34,800
North Little Rock 650 $34,800
Little Rock 650 $34,800
Jonesboro 170 $31,010
Hot Springs 140 $28,950
Pine Bluff 50 $28,670
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 17030 $35,320
Long Beach 17030 $35,320
Anaheim 17030 $35,320
Hayward 7090 $41,540
San Francisco 7090 $41,540
Oakland 7090 $41,540
San Bernardino 4730 $32,330
Riverside 4730 $32,330
Ontario 4730 $32,330
Carlsbad 3840 $39,070
San Diego 3840 $39,070
San Jose 3280 $50,740
Santa Clara 3280 $50,740
Sunnyvale 3280 $50,740
Arcade 2950 $40,030
Sacramento 2950 $40,030
Arden 2950 $40,030
Roseville 2950 $40,030
Fresno 1150 $27,140
Oxnard 1100 $35,630
Ventura 1100 $35,630
Thousand Oaks 1100 $35,630
Bakersfield 850 $32,740
Santa Rosa 690 $43,760
Stockton 680 $34,080
Lodi 680 $34,080
Modesto 630 $29,760
Salinas 580 $40,260
Santa Maria 550 $38,390
Santa Barbara 550 $38,390
Fairfield 550 $41,540
Vallejo 550 $41,540
Redding 330 $34,350
Visalia 320 $35,440
Porterville 320 $35,440
San Luis Obispo 320 $41,230
Arroyo Grande 320 $41,230
Paso Robles 320 $41,230
Chico 310 $43,690
Watsonville 290 $38,200
Santa Cruz 290 $38,200
Napa 230 $40,940
Merced 180 $30,390
Corcoran 160 $38,550
Hanford 160 $38,550
El Centro 150 $33,120
Madera 150 $35,360
Yuba City 120 $37,390
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 2870 $39,310
Lakewood 2870 $39,310
Denver 2870 $39,310
Colorado Springs 1120 $35,220
Boulder 500 $37,820
Fort Collins 420 $36,240
Grand Junction 220 $30,580
Pueblo 190 $29,620
Greeley 190 $38,360
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 1390 $42,870
East Hartford 1390 $42,870
West Hartford 1390 $42,870
Bridgeport 890 $42,090
Norwalk 890 $42,090
Stamford 890 $42,090
New Haven 600 $38,570
Waterbury 300 $36,880
Danbury 270 $38,250
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 170 $34,710
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 5600 $33,460
West Palm Beach 5600 $33,460
Fort Lauderdale 5600 $33,460
Tampa 2690 $34,970
St. Petersburg 2690 $34,970
Clearwater 2690 $34,970
Sanford 2000 $35,690
Kissimmee 2000 $35,690
Orlando 2000 $35,690
Jacksonville 1450 $34,710
Sarasota 840 $38,590
North Port 840 $38,590
Bradenton 840 $38,590
Titusville 580 $33,370
Melbourne 580 $33,370
Palm Bay 580 $33,370
Cape Coral 560 $39,530
Fort Myers 560 $39,530
Ormond Beach 470 $35,700
Deltona 470 $35,700
Daytona Beach 470 $35,700
Port St. Lucie 370 $37,900
Ferry Pass 350 $37,310
Pensacola 350 $37,310
Brent 350 $37,310
Gainesville 350 $39,130
Tallahassee 280 $39,090
Lakeland 270 $33,840
Winter Haven 270 $33,840
Marco Island 260 $41,850
Immokalee 260 $41,850
Naples 260 $41,850
Ocala 180 $30,420
Fort Walton Beach 170 $37,570
Crestview 170 $37,570
Destin 170 $37,570
Punta Gorda 140 $34,160
Panama City 130 $30,840
Vero Beach 90 $31,670
Sebastian 90 $31,670
The Villages 90 $35,110
Homosassa Springs 80 $35,400
Sebring 70 $29,590
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 6500 $37,610
Sandy Springs 6500 $37,610
Atlanta 6500 $37,610
Savannah 290 $35,820
Athens 220 $35,070
Clarke County 220 $35,070
Macon 200 $32,230
Warner Robins 160 $29,620
Gainesville 140 $31,820
Brunswick 120 $28,170
Valdosta 120 $29,430
Dalton 120 $29,910
Albany 110 $27,870
Hinesville 80 $35,150
Rome 50 $35,280
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 1160 $34,070
Lahaina 180 $35,140
Wailuku 180 $35,140
Kahului 180 $35,140
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 720 $35,370
Idaho Falls 260 $32,930
Coeur d'Alene 160 $33,570
Pocatello 110 $32,440
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rockford 330 $35,300
Peoria 240 $39,520
Springfield 230 $37,630
Bloomington 170 $32,090
Urbana 130 $35,000
Champaign 130 $35,000
Decatur 90 $32,850
Kankakee 80 $36,050
Carbondale N/A $32,710
Marion N/A $32,710
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 1650 $36,930
Indianapolis 1650 $36,930
Carmel 1650 $36,930
Fort Wayne 540 $35,640
Bloomington 170 $35,780
Lafayette 150 $35,160
West Lafayette 150 $35,160
Goshen 140 $38,490
Elkhart 140 $38,490
Muncie 110 $29,910
Kokomo 110 $34,130
Terre Haute 80 $23,040
Michigan City 50 $38,090
La Porte 50 $38,090
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 710 $40,520
Des Moines 710 $40,520
Iowa City 290 $37,580
Cedar Rapids 290 $43,420
Cedar Falls 220 $31,450
Waterloo 220 $31,450
Dubuque 170 $34,580
Ames 90 $42,850
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 620 $33,620
Topeka 180 $29,470
Lawrence 100 $34,430
Manhattan 70 $33,490
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lexington 830 $32,980
Fayette 830 $32,980
Bowling Green 160 $32,620
Fort Knox 130 $29,980
Elizabethtown 130 $29,980
Owensboro 100 $29,310
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 1320 $28,770
New Orleans 1320 $28,770
Baton Rouge 750 $31,370
Bossier City 360 $26,280
Shreveport 360 $26,280
Lafayette 360 $27,970
Lake Charles 280 $24,830
Monroe 250 $26,340
Thibodaux 170 $26,870
Houma 170 $26,870
Alexandria 160 $29,420
Hammond 90 $35,420
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 410 $40,200
Portland 410 $40,200
Bangor 130 $37,600
Auburn 60 $36,510
Lewiston 60 $36,510
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baltimore 2440 $40,640
Towson 2440 $40,640
Columbia 2440 $40,640
Lexington Park 120 $36,550
California 120 $36,550
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 190 $45,670
New Bedford 160 $36,070
Leominster 160 $40,210
Gardner 160 $40,210
Pittsfield 90 $39,090
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 4490 $32,370
Detroit 4490 $32,370
Dearborn 4490 $32,370
Grand Rapids 850 $41,770
Wyoming 850 $41,770
Flint 520 $33,510
Lansing 470 $37,360
East Lansing 470 $37,360
Ann Arbor 400 $41,290
Saginaw 240 $29,120
Kalamazoo 210 $35,860
Portage 210 $35,860
Muskegon 140 $34,260
Niles 110 $34,610
Benton Harbor 110 $34,610
Jackson 110 $36,890
Battle Creek 110 $40,130
Monroe 70 $34,010
Bay City 70 $36,100
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 240 $45,750
St. Cloud 200 $42,690
North Mankato 120 $43,420
Mankato 120 $43,420
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 570 $30,870
Gulfport 260 $32,530
Pascagoula 260 $32,530
Biloxi 260 $32,530
Hattiesburg 120 $24,320
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 510 $34,320
Columbia 260 $35,280
Joplin 180 $32,880
Jefferson City 120 $33,900
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 200 $37,850
Missoula 170 $31,460
Great Falls 110 $34,440
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 420 $36,050
Grand Island 80 $32,430
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 2010 $33,960
Henderson 2010 $33,960
Las Vegas 2010 $33,960
Reno 540 $36,600
Carson City 50 $38,250
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 260 $45,790
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 420 $31,120
Atlantic City 210 $41,660
Hammonton 210 $41,660
Vineland 130 $38,860
Bridgeton 130 $38,860
Ocean City 120 $38,380
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 1320 $31,930
Farmington 190 $35,370
Las Cruces 180 $29,560
Santa Fe 180 $37,900
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 1100 $36,620
Buffalo 1100 $36,620
Cheektowaga 1100 $36,620
Rochester 990 $34,950
Albany 860 $36,050
Schenectady 860 $36,050
Troy 860 $36,050
Syracuse 570 $34,300
Utica 250 $33,280
Rome 250 $33,280
Binghamton 190 $35,890
Kingston 140 $38,580
Fort Drum 100 $31,210
Watertown 100 $31,210
Glens Falls 90 $35,520
Ithaca 60 $30,420
Elmira 50 $35,350
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 1410 $41,520
Chapel Hill 730 $41,300
Durham 730 $41,300
High Point 660 $36,360
Greensboro 660 $36,360
Salem 560 $36,780
Winston 560 $36,780
Fayetteville 460 $35,920
Asheville 440 $38,270
Wilmington 380 $29,970
Hickory 270 $36,490
Morganton 270 $36,490
Lenoir 270 $36,490
Greenville 200 $36,140
Jacksonville 140 $35,330
New Bern 130 $37,090
Rocky Mount 110 $37,200
Burlington 90 $38,250
Goldsboro 80 $38,030
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 130 $43,960
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 2190 $36,010
Elyria 1910 $36,120
Cleveland 1910 $36,120
Dayton 720 $36,130
Akron 610 $36,270
Toledo 510 $37,560
Canton 440 $31,210
Massillon 440 $31,210
Mansfield 110 $37,770
Lima 100 $36,330
Springfield 80 $35,690
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 1650 $32,850
Tulsa 1210 $33,740
Lawton 200 $34,280
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 550 $36,690
Eugene 420 $38,800
Medford 290 $40,150
Redmond 170 $43,730
Bend 170 $43,730
Albany 130 $38,820
Grants Pass 100 $36,830
Corvallis 100 $44,350
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 2090 $34,280
Barre 630 $32,640
Scranton 630 $32,640
Wilkes 630 $32,640
Hazleton 630 $32,640
Carlisle 570 $34,690
Harrisburg 570 $34,690
Lancaster 530 $40,750
Reading 440 $34,010
Hanover 350 $31,790
York 350 $31,790
Erie 250 $27,810
State College 140 $31,300
Chambersburg 130 $34,160
Waynesboro 130 $34,160
Altoona 110 $31,350
Gettysburg 110 $31,790
Johnstown 90 $25,830
Berwick 90 $29,600
Bloomsburg 90 $29,600
Lebanon 90 $30,260
Williamsport 90 $30,990
East Stroudsburg N/A $32,130
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carolina 1540 $18,250
Caguas 1540 $18,250
San Juan 1540 $18,250
Arecibo 180 $18,940
Ponce 170 $18,070
Isabela 110 $17,570
Aguadilla 110 $17,570
Mayag�ez 100 $18,270
San Germ�n 50 $17,950
Guayama 40 $17,570
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 760 $34,540
Anderson 690 $35,560
Mauldin 690 $35,560
Greenville 690 $35,560
Charleston 440 $36,280
North Charleston 440 $36,280
Spartanburg 310 $33,040
Bluffton 250 $35,100
Beaufort 250 $35,100
Hilton Head Island 250 $35,100
Florence 130 $34,480
Sumter 90 $33,310
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 270 $37,780
Rapid City 170 $32,200
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Nashville 1830 $35,410
Murfreesboro 1830 $35,410
Franklin 1830 $35,410
Davidson 1830 $35,410
Knoxville 800 $37,540
Johnson City 240 $35,030
Morristown 130 $36,610
Cleveland 100 $33,280
Jackson 90 $26,980
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 7640 $36,740
Dallas 7640 $36,740
Arlington 7640 $36,740
Sugar Land 6700 $35,400
The Woodlands 6700 $35,400
Houston 6700 $35,400
San Antonio 3010 $30,560
New Braunfels 3010 $30,560
Round Rock 2340 $39,770
Austin 2340 $39,770
El Paso 710 $26,230
McAllen 460 $26,750
Edinburg 460 $26,750
Mission 460 $26,750
Lubbock 350 $30,470
Tyler 340 $32,420
Corpus Christi 320 $30,420
Temple 310 $35,230
Killeen 310 $35,230
Amarillo 310 $35,290
Brownsville 310 $36,410
Harlingen 310 $36,410
Beaumont 300 $32,920
Port Arthur 300 $32,920
Longview 290 $32,500
Odessa 200 $30,910
Waco 180 $31,830
Abilene 170 $33,790
College Station 160 $30,530
Bryan 160 $30,530
Laredo 160 $31,580
Denison 120 $30,820
Sherman 120 $30,820
Victoria 110 $32,080
San Angelo 100 $29,700
Wichita Falls 100 $32,220
Midland 80 $32,560
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 2060 $29,720
Provo 1120 $30,460
Orem 1120 $30,460
Ogden 1010 $28,080
Clearfield 1010 $28,080
St. George 200 $28,280
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 220 $38,540
Burlington 220 $38,540
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 1010 $38,570
Roanoke 340 $35,390
Lynchburg 230 $34,190
Charlottesville 220 $37,880
Harrisonburg 150 $41,780
Waynesboro 120 $37,070
Staunton 120 $37,070
Radford 80 $30,710
Blacksburg 80 $30,710
Christiansburg 80 $30,710
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tacoma 5670 $41,370
Seattle 5670 $41,370
Bellevue 5670 $41,370
Spokane 640 $38,570
Spokane Valley 640 $38,570
Tumwater 440 $42,510
Olympia 440 $42,510
Silverdale 410 $40,910
Bremerton 410 $40,910
Richland 370 $39,420
Kennewick 370 $39,420
Yakima 320 $33,340
Bellingham 230 $39,860
Wenatchee 120 $37,440
Mount Vernon 120 $39,340
Anacortes 120 $39,340
Longview 100 $40,210
Walla Walla 50 $42,340
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 160 $30,160
Beckley 100 $24,650
Morgantown 100 $31,930
Parkersburg 90 $27,450
Vienna 90 $27,450
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Milwaukee 1650 $37,000
West Allis 1650 $37,000
Waukesha 1650 $37,000
Madison 700 $36,190
Appleton 310 $36,290
Green Bay 310 $42,180
Wausau 190 $35,370
Eau Claire 180 $36,400
Racine 150 $31,480
Neenah 150 $38,520
Oshkosh 150 $38,520
Sheboygan 130 $34,140
Janesville 120 $33,120
Beloit 120 $33,120
Fond du Lac 70 $39,010
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne 90 $34,150
Casper 90 $38,210

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Dental Assistants

To find out more about building a career as Dental Assistants, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Dental Assistants

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Medical Office 279,580 95% $32,310
Government 5,790 1% $34,550
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
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San Jose
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San Diego
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San Diego
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  • Associate of Science in Medical Assisting Science
  • For over 35 years, Keiser University has provided student-centered, quality career education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions.

CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Dental Assistants.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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