Career Choices for Dental Assistants in 2021

Career Choices for Dental Assistants in 2021

Looking for a different job? Check these career choices for dental assistants

There are many career choices for dental assistants which can make choosing just one a bit daunting. However, there are some careers that are easier to transition to if you want to continue working in the health field. Check out the careers listed below and see if any are aligned with what you envision as your future career.

Dental Hygienist

If you enjoy working directly with patients you might want to consider a career as a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning patient’s teeth as well as providing oral health education. Dental hygienists work a flexible schedule and are paid well. The national median salary for a dental hygienist is $76,220 per year. Check out the American Dental Association’s website to find a program/school near you.


Becoming a dentist might be one of the most stable career choices for the dental assistant. However, there is a huge amount of time invested and money to become one. This commitment will include attending college for 4 years, then another 4 years in dental school, and passing state licensing exams.

You can also choose to specialize in a specific area, as well. The perks of being a dentist are endless. This includes excellent pay, autonomy over your work, and rewarding patient/dentist experiences. If you’re still on the fence about making this decision, it might help to check out the work of various dentists and envision if this kind of work/lifestyle is best for you.

Dental Technician

If you prefer limited patient engagement or intrigued by the idea of crafting crowns, bridges, etc., then becoming a dental technician might be the right career for you. The career offers flexibility, an average salary of around $56,000, and allows you to be creative every day as no two people’s teeth are the same. Want to learn more? Check out the requirements to get certified.

Office Manager

There isn’t a specific path or degree needed to become an office manager. Office managers are able to manage the day to day logistics of running an office. This may include administrative work, reviewing paperwork, managing the customer/staff relationships, etc.

Being a dental assistant exposes you to a lot of these areas, making this career shift an easy one. Interested in being an office manager? Check out current office manager job postings and see what recruiters are looking for.

Public Health

According to the American Public Health Association, public health is a field that is dedicated to protecting and promoting health within the community:

“While a doctor treats people who are sick, those of us working in public health try to prevent people from getting sick or injured in the first place. We also promote wellness by encouraging healthy behaviors.”

As a dental assistant, you may have become familiar with common dental health issues within your community. If you have a desire to promote oral health, educate others, and prevent people from getting sick/needing intensive care, then going into public health might be a great choice.

There are many different areas in public health that you can work in such as research, education, policy, etc. However, it might be helpful to go to school for public health and gain hands-on experience through internships to determine what area would be best for you.

There are many more career choices for the dental assistant that are not listed here. The healthcare field is extremely large and it might be helpful to do additional research. Check out the jobs listed in your neighborhood, read various interviews from people in the healthcare field, and spend time creating/envisioning your future before deciding.

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About the author

Kristie Cabrera

Kristie is an occupational therapist, mental health advocate, and amateur urban farmer. Her experience with taking care of others in the healthcare setting and taking care of the land are both important pieces that make up who she is. As a life-long learner and creative, she hopes to create content that is centered around wellness and healing.

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