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Dental Assisting/Assistant Major

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Dental Assisting/Assistant

1,564 Associates's Degrees Annually
1 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
#28 in Popularity (Associate's)
$39,770 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Dental Assisting/Assistant Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many dental assisting/assistant graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Undergraduate Certificate 10,361
Basic Certificate 5,472
Associate’s Degree 1,578
Bachelor’s Degree 1

What Dental Assisting/Assistant Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, dental assisting majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Dental Assisting Majors

Dental Assisting majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Skills for Dental Assisting Majors

dental assisting majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.

Abilities for Dental Assisting Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a dental assisting student include the following:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Dental Assisting/Assistant Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with dental assisting:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Dental Assistants 19.5% $38,660

Who Is Getting an Associate’s Degree in Dental Assisting/Assistant?

1,578 Associate's Degrees Annually
93% Percent Women
48% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major is dominated by women with about 93% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of dental assisting majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Dental Assisting Students with Associate's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 128
Black or African American 148
Hispanic or Latino 419
White 779
International Students 3
Other Races/Ethnicities 101

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Dental Assisting. About 0.2% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Dental Assisting/Assistant Majors Make?

Salaries According to BLS

Dental Assisting majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $39,770 to $122,320 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Dental Assisting/Assistant Major  ( 39770 to 122320 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with dental assisting require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to dental assisting have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 6.0%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 40.9%
Some College Courses 5.4%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 9.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 5.7%
Master’s Degree 13.1%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 3.6%
Doctoral Degree 9.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 7.0%

Online Dental Assisting/Assistant Programs

In 2018-2019, 621 schools offered a dental assisting program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 183 2
Certificate (1-2 years) 465 9
Certificate (2-4 Years) 6 0
Associate’s Degree 133 3
Bachelor’s Degree 0 0
Post-Baccalaureate 183 2
Master’s Degree 1 0
Post-Master’s 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Dental Assisting/Assistant Worth It?

The median salary for a dental assisting grad is $39,770 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to dental assisting.

Major Number of Grads
Dental Hygiene/Hygienist 8,260
Dental Laboratory Technology/Technician 310
Other Dental Services & Allied Professions 118

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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