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 2-year 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 community colleges and vocational schools. Students enrolled in such programs are often required to complete a clinical externship at a dental office. Applicants may need to have already completed a dental assisting certificate program or have a background in dental assisting.
Dental Office Manager Associate's Degree
Dental office management degree programs focus on the management skills and business principles required to efficiently run and organize dental establishments. By first completing an accredited dental assisting certificate or diploma program, students applying to the management degree will have the necessary background for the coursework ahead. Some schools do offer dental assisting diploma programs within the curriculum of dental office management associate's degree programs. Prior experience with dental assisting techniques, dental procedures and dental anatomy lay the ground work for courses in the program that include:
- 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. and the BLS did report that those individuals held about 341,060 jobs across the country in 2018. According to the BLS, dental assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,660 in 2018.
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.
An associate's degree program in dental office management can prepare current dental assistants to advance their career and take on administrative or office management roles within a dental office.