People who wish to pursue a career as a dental assistant in the United States should first take an accredited dental assisting course and pass the Certified Dental Assistant exam of the Dental Assisting National Board before applying for a position. The position has a 24.5 percent employment growth rate as of 2015, and it is often used as a springboard to become a qualified dentist, as reported by U.S. News.
Dental assistants help prepare patients, sterilize equipment, preform teeth cleanings and assist a dentist when surgery or treatment requires suction and an extra pair of hands.
To be eligible to take the exam, an individual must complete one of the 270 accredited courses available in the U.S. If training was received on the job in lieu of a formal course, those interested in taking the exam must have 2 years of experience before doing so, as noted by the American Dental Association. In addition to technical training, the position requires good people skills, the ability to work well in a team setting and the ability to multitask.
The rapid growth of the profession is due to a few factors; people take care of their teeth better than in the past, and expanded insurance options give more people access to dental coverage, according to U.S. News. The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that there will be 74,000 new dental assistant positions by 2022.