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How to Become a Dental Scheduler: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a dental scheduler. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a dental scheduler. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Dental Scheduler?

Dental scheduling falls under the job duties of a dental receptionist or dental assistant. These professionals work in dental offices providing administrative support services that include greeting patients, answering and handling phone calls, gathering patient information and documentation, keeping appointment schedules, maintaining medical records and handling patient insurance. This occupation may be stressful in the event of having to deal with annoyed or unpleasant patients.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2015 that the median annual salary for receptionists was $27,300 and for dental assistants, was $35,980.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies; some positions require postsecondary program
Degree Field Knowledge of a related field, such as dental office management, dental assisting or medical office reception, may be beneficial
Licensure/Certification Certification and licensure required for dental assistants in some states
Experience Entry-level; some employers may desire previous experience
Key Skills Customer-service, communication, listening, interpersonal, and speaking skills; attention to detail; ability to use software such as those used for accounting and clerical work
Salary $27,300 (2015 median annual salary for receptionists)
$35,980 (2015 median annual salary for dental assistants)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer job postings (November 2012), O*Net OnLine.

The education required to work in this field varies based on the specific position, but some positions require completion of a postsecondary program in dental office management, dental assisting or medical office reception. Certification and licensure are required for dental assistants in some states. Some employers may desire previous experience. You'll also need customer-service, communication, listening, interpersonal and speaking skills, as well as attention to detail and the ability to use software, such as those used for accounting and clerical work.

Steps to Become a Dental Scheduler

Let's take a look at what steps need to be taken to become a dental scheduler.

Step 1: Complete a Postsecondary Training Program

Individuals looking for dental receptionist training can find relevant programs at community or technical colleges. These programs usually confer a certificate and are designed with a flexible format, allowing students to take courses on a full- or part-time basis. Students can receive training through dental office management or medical office reception programs. Some typical topics of study found in dental office management programs include dental terminology, sanitation and safety regulations and patient charting.

Dental assisting programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) are also available, and these programs award certificates and degrees. Students will complete lecture and laboratory courses on topics of dental work and various equipment, as well as complete practical training.

Step 2: Work On Communication and Customer Service Skills

Dental receptionists need to have a friendly and professional demeanor, as well as possess good verbal and listening skills, since they are often the first person a patient sees in a dental office. Opting for elective courses in areas like communications, human resources or public speaking may help aspiring dental receptionists hone their people skills.

Step 3: Research State Licensure and Certification Requirements

Individuals who do scheduling work as dental assistants may need to take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam. Some states also require licensure or registration for specific tasks. Future schedulers should do the research to ensure they have adequate training and experience.

Step 4: Enter the Field

Dental receptionist job openings may or may not require a candidate to have previous dental office or administrative experience. Gaining work experience is also important if an individual is considering becoming professionally certified. After completing a formal training program, an individual can work on career development by finding an entry-level job as a dental or medical receptionist.

Step 5: Consider Voluntary Professional Certification

Earning voluntary certification through organizations like the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) can help distinguish a candidate in the job market by showing dedication and commitment to the field. The IAAP requires administrative professionals desiring certification to have 2-4 years of relevant work experience and successfully pass an exam. The IAAP designation is valid for five years, and individuals need to qualify for recertification by completing continuing education or further certifications.

To become a dental scheduler, you'll need to work as a dental assistant or receptionist and acquire the education and any licensing required.

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