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Graduates of New Jersey dental assistant schools learn the basics of dental care and dental administration. Under the supervision of a dentist and dental hygienists, they learn to perform a wide range of tasks that help dental offices run smoothly. Common duties performed by dental assistants include:

  • Scheduling appointments and keeping the business calendar
  • Teaching patients about dental hygiene
  • Taking X-rays and completing other lab tasks under the supervision of a dentist
  • Bill patients and process payments
  • Manage billing and forward information to insurers
  • Keeping records of dental treatments and procedures
  • Performing hands-on tasks that help dentists, such as holding suction hoses during procedures

In the state of New Jersey, you can perform administrative and basic dental assisting work without a license. However, performing expanded tasks does require licensure in the state. There are currently three paths to licensure in this field in New Jersey:

  • Complete an educational program at one of the New Jersey dental assistant schools approved by the Commission on Accreditation within the last ten years. Complete the Registered Dental Assistant Examination administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
  • Work as a dental assistant for at least two years within five years from the date of application. Next, pass the Registered Dental Assistant Examination administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) within ten years of the date of application. After that, you must complete a Board-approved program in expanded functions and pass the New Jersey Expanded Functions Examination.
  • Work as a dental assistant for at least two years within five years from the date of application. Next, pass the Registered Dental Assistant Examination administered by DANB within ten years prior to application. Lastly, you must pass the New Jersey Expanded Functions Examination administered by DANB.

Fast Facts for Dental Assistants in New Jersey

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9,100 dental assistants were employed in New Jersey in 2014. Together, they earned an annual mean wage of $39,740. The following regions in New Jersey employed the bulk of dental assistants that year:

  • Edison - New Brunswick: 2,320
  • Newark - Union, NJ-PA: 2,230
  • Camden: 1,410
  • Atlantic City - Hammonton: 230
  • Vineland - Millville - Bridgetown: 140
  • Ocean City: 100

Although employment in this career is already high in New Jersey, government data shows that more jobs are on their way. According to U.S. Department of Labor figures, employment for dental assistants in New Jersey could increase by as much as 17.1 percent during the decade leading up to 2022, which could add 1,490 jobs in the process.

Dental Assistant Salaries in New Jersey

Dental assistants in New Jersey earned an annual mean wage of $39,740 in 2014, which is higher than the national annual mean wage for this profession that year, which was $36,260.

On a national level, some industries paid higher wages than average. Here are some of the highest paying industries in 2014, along with the annual mean wage they paid:

  • Specialty Hospitals: $40,550
  • Insurance Carriers: $40,370
  • State Government: $39,850
  • Federal Executive Branch $39,460
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $37,300

Metro Areas Rated for Salary and Popularity

Region

Employment per 1,000 Residents

Annual Mean Wage in 2014

Edison - New Brunswick

2.32

$37,880

Newark - Union, NJ-PA

2.32

$42,840

Camden

2.78

$39,110

Atlantic City - Hammonton

1.77

$38,600

Vineland - Millville - Bridgetown

2.34

$38,860

Ocean City

2.51

$38,710

Expert Q&A

To learn more about dental assisting schools in New Jersey and the field of dental assisting as a whole, we reached out to Roxane Terranova, program coordinator of the dental assisting program at Camden County College. The Camden County College Dental Assisting Program, which offers an associate in applied science degree in dental assisting or a certificate in dental assisting, is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

What are some of the unique issues that dentists and dental assistants face in the state of New Jersey?

Dental assistants in New Jersey are limited to the functions that we may perform intra-orally. The State Board of Dentistry states what the licensed dental assistant may or may not perform. The law is slow to expand the scope of practice for the dental assistant. Therefore, the dental assistant role is very limited and only the dentist is licensed to carry out some functions. If these functions were to be expanded to the dental assistant, it would allow the dentist to free his/her time to perform dental procedures such as restorative work for patient care.

What is the greatest benefit of practicing this field within the state of New Jersey?

There are many benefits to practicing in dentistry. The working hours fit into many individuals' diverse schedules. Typically, one may modify his/her schedule during his/her professional career with the employer. There is flexibility within the dental office by working with a "team" or "group" in that responsibility is shared - the philosophy being "team approach" and "patient-centered." Dental assisting offers those opportunities to gain employment after just one year of education and a relatively small financial investment, unlike other professions which always require more than one year of education. Dental assistants make a difference in their patients' lives by educating them on oral health, comforting them in times of discomfort, reassuring them that they'll be OK and just listening to their concerns. Dental assistants continue to learn about new trends, procedures and equipment as they are required to complete continuing education credits throughout the year to maintain their licenses.

The salary for a dental assistant after completing a one-year education program is considerably higher than minimum wage. According to the Dental Assisting National Board's 2014 survey, dental assistants holding the CDA credential earn a median salary of $19 an hour (www.danb.org/en/About-DANB/News-and-Events/Certified-Press-Newsletter/2015/Summer.aspx).

In your opinion, how will the dental industry change in the next 10 to 20 years?

We will be seeing changes in dentistry as a whole that will impact the dental assistant. The changes are slowly occurring at present. They're what we have seen in the medical profession. The individual "one dentist" dental practice is fading away. The large "box type" practices are opening, offering all specialties and acceptance of all types of dental insurances at one location. This is because for a recent dental school graduate, the decision of working as an employee versus employer is more appealing and financially sound. Dental assistants must be versatile - able to anticipate a doctor's needs at a moment's notice in all specialties. They will need more than ever to cross-train in all aspects of the dental practice from working chairside with the dentist to working in the business end collecting payment for procedures performed.

How is your school preparing dental assistants for a future career in your state? Does your school offer specific programs that can give students an edge?

In the Camden County College Dental Assisting Program, students are required to complete 300 hours in clinical dentistry. Our students are placed in dental clinics, in large and small dental practices and in multi-specialty dental practices. The student has a variety of experiences working on patients within the affiliate dental offices that partner with the program. In addition, the dental affiliate offices employ many of our graduates, who actually mentor the students during their clinical assignments. The students reflect on their clinical experiences using a weekly journal and then discuss those experiences in group/mentor sessions. This allows for collaboration and understanding.

Sources:

  1. Dental Assistant Application Checklist, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/den/Applications/Application-for-Dental-Assistant-License.pdf
  2. Dental Assistants, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319091.htm
  3. Dental Assistants, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm
  4. Interview with Roxane Terranova, program coordinator of the dental assisting program at Camden County College, contact: "Coulby, Susan" <SCoulby@camdencc.edu>
  5. Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  6. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New Jersey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nj.htm
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Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Dental Assistants

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for New Jersey. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Dental Assistants

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Dental Assistants relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Atlantic City-Hammonton 230 $44,040
Ocean City 80 $41,820
Trenton 550 $34,040
Vineland-Bridgeton 130 $43,240

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