There are more than 350,000 dental assistant jobs nationwide, and employment is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, it’s probably no surprise that we continuously hear from dental assistants who say they love their careers!
Particularly, dental assistants, including aspiring DANB certificants and the 37,000 dental assistants who hold DANB certification, often share with us their thoughts about what brought them to the profession, and why they’re motivated to stay the course.
These dental assistants remain dedicated to helping advance dentistry and deliver oral healthcare during a time when the role of the dental assistant has never been more essential. Consider these encouraging comments that bode well for the future of the profession:
“I never have a hard time finding a dental assistant position. I would not trade my dental assisting career for anything,” says Kelli, CDA.
“Being a new dental assistant — and having recently earned DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification — has given me purpose. I now know I can achieve the highest of my goals education-wise and throughout life,” shares Jeyda, CDA.
“I have enjoyed many years in the profession and more than a decade of DANB certification. For those looking for a successful career, dental assisting has so much to offer. I hope that more people become interested in the field,” Gerrie, CDA, tells us.
What would you say? Below, we highlight some of the top reasons dental assistants say they love their career and the profession.
1. The Rewards of Helping Others
Providing patient care is the cornerstone of the dental assistant role, and dental assistants agree it’s their top priority. In fact, according to the results of DANB’s 2020-2021 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey, making a difference in patients’ lives was listed by respondents as one of the most rewarding aspects of the profession.
Lidia wholeheartedly believes patient care is at the center of all she does: “I was attracted to this very rewarding field because of all the opportunities to help patients — to help to relieve their pain, to help enhance their smiles, or simply to build great relationships with them. I have met many great patients in my career.” Lidia currently is pursuing DANB CDA certification not only to take her patient-care skills to the next level, but also demonstrate her knowledge and skills to her patients, employer and colleagues.
Maggie agrees the main draw of the dental assisting profession is the opportunity she has to positively impact patients’ lives. Through helping patients not only access, but also understand, the importance of dentist-recommended treatment, Maggie has a hand in boosting both their oral health and self-esteem.
“I chose dental assisting because nothing beats the before-and-after comparison and the confidence that your patient feels when the dentist is finished with their treatment,” Maggie shares.
2. The Variety of Duties Dental Assistants Perform
Many dental assistants say they are attracted to the profession because so many opportunities exist for career advancement.
For some, this includes taking on a supervising or lead dental assistant role in the office or performing expanded functions duties as allowed in their state. Consider that 42% of recently surveyed CDA certificants say they hold an expanded functions credential.
Kalyn, CDA, has set a similar goal for herself, to benefit her own career, as well as her practice and patients. “By completing the EFDA program I’ve enrolled in, I will be able to bring a new skill set to my dentist’s practice and be able to mentor other dental assistants looking to grow in this rewarding and ever-changing field,” she says. “As an experienced member of a large practice, I am always taking on new roles to teach new dental assistants.”
Motivated and educated dental assistants can step into other dental office areas as well, such as taking on front-desk duties, becoming a lead dental assistant, or overseeing dental infection prevention and control.
In fact, dental assistants are among the many dental professionals who lately have completed the OSAP-DALE Foundation Dental Infection Prevention and Control Certificate Program™.
3. The Ability to Move Into Other Areas of Dentistry
While many dental assistants choose to spend the duration of their careers in the dental assisting profession, others opt to stay in the dental industry but to explore other positions beyond assisting. These professionals may pursue practice management, hygiene or dentistry, for example.
No matter where you would like to go professionally in the dental field, a dental assisting role is an excellent place to start.
“The best thing about being a dental assistant is the amazing growth opportunities I’ve had in the 30 years since my career began,” shares Jill, CDA, whose career began as a U.S. Navy dental technician. “I enjoyed dental assisting for many years, and then decided to become a practice manager at a Federally Qualified Health Center in 2001, which I’m still doing as of today.”
“I now manage a team of 70 people in a 24-chair practice, which is challenging and rewarding at the same time,” Jill continues. “I love my job and wouldn’t change it for the world!”
Yuliya, CDA, also has worked her way up in the dental field, now holding the position as lead assistant where she works. She’s motivated to continue growing and learning, through pursuing a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene with a focus on preventive care.
“My goal is to serve as a dental hygienist for my community,” Yuliya says. “I am committed to being a lifelong learner throughout my career. I hope to eventually become a dental hygienist or assistant instructor and provide dental education to students. I believe education can give a person wings to prosper.”
What brought you to the dental assisting profession? Share your story.