Degree programs in the dental management field are designed for current dental assistants looking to gain management skills, while others are entry-level programs that combine dental assisting training with management and leadership courses. Prerequisites for these various programs require incoming students to be trained dental assistant with either a certificate or diploma in the field or high school graduates, respectively.
Oftentimes, these two-years programs includes some clinical dental assisting courses in dental materials and clinical procedures. They may also include some form of internship component. Certifications usually apply to dental assistants rather than dental office managers. They can be obtained by passing a skills examination.
Associate Degree in Dental Management
Associate's degree programs in dental practice management are, for the most part, comprised of classroom lectures on business theory and management skills. Students learn the basics of business communication, dental office procedures, business law and administration. They also learn the basics of medical coding, reimbursement and record keeping. Some examples of courses include:
- Dental materials
- Dental specialties
- Business communication
- Business law
- Patient interaction
- Medical coding and billing
- Medical reimbursement and insurance
- Dental assisting clinical practicum
Popular Career Options
While an associate's degree in dental office management can prepare graduates to become managers of dentists' offices, it can prepare them for other careers as well. Some of these include:
- Dental product sales manager
- Dental office manager
- Dental and medical records coder
- Health information systems manager
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to O*Net Online, dental office managers are classified as medical secretaries (www.onetonline.org). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16% employment growth for medical secretaries from 2018-2028, which is much faster than average. These workers earned a mean annual wage of $40,350 in dentists offices in 2018. Payscale.com reported that dental office managers earned a median annual salary of $50,000 in 2019.
There really are no certifications available specifically for dental office managers. However, dental assistants can gain certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). The board also offers certification to orthodontic assistants, who can go on to become dental office managers.
There are two different types of associate's degree programs in dental management, one for students who already serve as dental assistants and another for individuals who do not. While one combines dental assisting training with management training, both include management and leadership classes related to business, dental office procedures and administration.