Pediatric Dental Secretaries: Career Info and Requirements

Mar 26, 2019

Explore the work responsibilities of a pediatric dental secretary. Learn about skills and educational requirements in addition to salary and job outlook to help you make an informed career decision.

Career Definition for a Pediatric Dental Secretary

Pediatric dental secretaries perform a variety of administrative duties in dental offices that specifically treat children. They may set appointments, greet patients, answer phones, verify and submit insurance information, prepare bills, process payments, update patient records, and type correspondence. Unlike dental assistants, pediatric dental secretaries generally do not have direct patient care responsibilities; however, they may interact with patients and their parents, compile basic information for dental charts, and show patients to treatment rooms.

Education High school diploma and office skills required; certificate or associate degree may be necessary
Job Skills Organization, communication, data entry, database management
Median Salary (2017)* $34,610 for medical secretaries
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 22% for medical secretaries

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Many employers require an associate's degree or completion of a certificate program in business, office management, or health services administration; however, a high school diploma and strong office skills may be sufficient for some positions. Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) and Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification is offered through the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). Some healthcare employers require office staff to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.

Essential Skills

A secretary in a pediatric dentist's office must have strong organizational, communication, and office skills. He or she must be proficient with computers and have excellent word processing and data entry skills. Medical transcription skills may also be required for some positions. Database management and record-keeping abilities are essential, as is an understanding of dental terminology, insurance procedures, and billing practices. Pediatric dental secretaries must be good with children, enjoy working with the public, and have excellent customer service skills. Multiple language skills may be required by some employers.

Career Forecast and Economic Outlook

The BLS predicts 22% job growth for medical secretaries, such as pediatric dental secretaries, during the 2016-2026 decade. Job prospects may be strongest for candidates with solid office skills, professional certification, and experience. As of May 2017, the BLS reports that medical secretaries earn a median salary of $34,610 per year.

Alternative Career Options

You can also choose from these other careers in dental support:

Dental Assistant

Although some job responsibilities may overlap those of a pediatric dental secretary, dental assistants go beyond just clerical work and actually help dentists with patient care. They provide support during procedures by operating suction machines and giving dentists the instruments they need. Other tasks include cleaning treatment spaces and tools, preparing lab samples, organizing material trays and updating dental records. For states that do not require licensure of dental assistants, necessary education may only consist of on-the-job training. However, where certification requirements exist, dental assistants must complete an approved diploma or certificate program and pass the Certified Dental Assistant exam.

The BLS projects strong employment growth for dental assistants, with over 64,000 new jobs opening up during the 2016-2026 decade. In May of 2017, the BLS determined that dental assistants earned a median salary of $37,630 per year.

Dental Hygienist

For those wanting more complex dental care responsibilities, becoming a dental hygienist could be a good career option. Dental hygienists capture x-ray images, thoroughly clean teeth, examine the mouth for the presences of disease, educate patients about taking care of their teeth and enter treatment notes into dental records. Some hygienists may also be allowed to place fillings and seal up cavities after dental procedures. To qualify for employment, an associate degree in dental hygiene is usually required by most employers and dental hygienists must be licensed in all states.

As reported by the BLS, employment of dental hygienists should grow by 20% from 2016-2026, resulting in the creation of over 40,900 new positions. In 2017, these dental professionals received $74,070 in median yearly wages, according to BLS data.

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