Individuals interested in becoming receptionists at dental offices may take advantage of one-year certificate or two-year associate degree programs in order to enhance job opportunities. Students learn office management, billing, and insurance skills; they may also develop an understanding of relevant medical knowledge that will help them better serve the office clientele and supervising clinicians.
Earning an associate degree may require previous experience or postsecondary training in addition to a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Certificate in Dental Office Assisting
The certificate program prepares students to work in dental offices, whether as receptionists, office managers, laboratory assistants or medical assistants. It combines training for office work, such as administration and office procedures, with education on healthcare, medical ethics, dental technology and other topics specific to the dental field. Some classes in the certificate in dental assisting program, such as computer literacy, cover the career of dental office receptionist. Others, like dental radiology, reflect more medical work. Course topics in this program include:
- Computer applications
- Medical terminology
- Administrative procedures
- Clinical practice
- Office management
Associate of Science in Dental Office Assisting
At the associate degree level, there are academic programs available in dental assisting as well as dental office management, which emphasizes the business side of dental practice; business duties include managing an office or working in insurance. Associate degrees in dental assisting cover similar areas as the certificate program:
- Clinical skills
- Dental technology
- Office management
- Dental terminology
- Dental radiography
- Dental office procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the average hourly salary of dental assistants was $17.75 as of May 2015. The BLS expects employment in dental assisting to grow 18% from 2014-2024. This increase may be due to the growing population of older individuals wishing to keep their original teeth longer, as well as dentists hiring additional dental assistants to perform more routine tasks.
An associate degree or certificate in dental assisting prepares students to work as dental office receptionists. Program curricula also expose students to topics that prepare them to work in other roles in the office as well.