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Dental Office Manager Associates Degree Program Information

Examine associate's degree program information for the aspiring dental office manager. Learn what is necessary to enroll in this program and see coursework samples. Explore the employment outlook and salary statistics as well as the certification info.

Essential Information

Dental offices usually employ office managers who have worked their way up from positions as dental assistants. While many of these aspiring managers learn their skills on the job, some have the option of enrolling in a degree program, such as an Associate of Science in Dental Office Management program.

Associate's degree programs in dental office management are most typically offered through 2-year community colleges and vocational schools. Students enrolled in a dental office management degree program learn how to oversee the day-to-day business operations of a dentist's office. They learn how to communicate with patients, manage electronic records systems, supervise a staff of dental assistants and handle basic administrative tasks. Students enrolled in such a program are also often required to complete a clinical externship at an actual dentist's office.

Education Prerequisites

Before applying to enroll in an associate's degree program for aspiring dental office managers, students should first complete a dental assisting certificate or diploma program accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. Some schools do offer dental assisting diploma programs within the curriculum of dental office management associate's degree programs. Either type of program is acceptable, although students should have a background in dental assisting techniques, dental procedures and dental anatomy before advancing to office management courses.

Program Coursework

Many of the courses found within an associate's degree program in dental office management focus on management skills and business principles. Some specific examples of subject matter include:

  • Business law
  • Medical billing and coding
  • Dental insurance principles
  • Medical ethics
  • Human relations and communication
  • Organizational management
  • Microcomputer applications

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report specific data for the position of dental office managers. Dental office managers must first gain training as dental assistants, however, and the BLS did report that those individuals held about 300,160 jobs across the country in 2012 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, administrative services managers, including those who work in health care settings, earned an average annual salary of $88,660 in 2012.

Certification Information

Dental office managers are not typically required to hold additional certification to gain a position in the field. However, since all dental office managers are also required to be trained dental assistants, they must hold certification for that position. Many states require dental assistants to gain licensure by passing an examination. The national certification examination given by the Dental Assisting National Board is recognized in 38 states.

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