3 ways to advance your dental assisting career in 2024

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At the start of every new year, it’s common to reflect on the future, what it may bring, and how to improve it. Many people like to make New Year’s resolutions to achieve various personal or professional goals. Dental assistants are no exception! You may be striving, for example, to get your first dental assisting job or take on new responsibilities at your practice in the coming year.

Here are a few goals you can set for 2022 to get where you want to be in your career.

Get certified

Becoming a DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certificant opens the door to new career possibilities. At baseline, it provides you with crucial knowledge you’ll use to provide patient care and assist the dentist every day in the office.

Beyond that, it can also give you an edge that can lead to higher pay and additional responsibilities around the office. In fact, the latest DANB Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey found that assistants holding CDA certification make, on average, over $2 more per hour compared to all dental assistants. CDA certificants are also more likely to be given a raise than non-certified assistants.

“My employer at the time I took my DANB paid for the test and gave me a $2 raise once passed,” says Ashley. “She saw the value of her assistants going above and beyond to earn the title.”

Some dentists even cover part or all the cost to help their assistants get certified.

Ready to get started? Learn how to receive your dental assisting certification through DANB.

Pursue continuing education

Dental assistants are essential dental team members. They are vital to ensuring the dentist has what they need throughout the appointment. We’ve heard from dentists that dental assistants’ knowledge, skills, intuition to anticipate the dentists’ needs, and overall passion for the profession are recognized and appreciated.

Dentistry is an ever-evolving field. Staying up to date on the latest clinical knowledge will help you provide the best care for patients. In addition to renewing DANB certification annually, you can challenge yourself to earn additional certifications through DANB, including in orthodontic assisting and restorative functions. This can allow you to take on a larger role in the dental office, potentially increase your pay, and achieve more job satisfaction. See the full exam and certification list for more information. You can also enroll in ongoing education courses through the DALE Foundation to better serve your patients. Available courses include anxiety and special needs in pediatric dentistry, instrument processing, and coronal polishing.

Determine your long-term career path

Your career path may begin with dental assisting, but it can lead in many different directions. The first step is determining where you want to go!

Many people aspire to be a lifelong dental assistant, as it’s a rewarding career for a multitude of reasons. However, if you’re ready to take on a new challenge and more responsibility while continuing to work with patients, you can expand your role by becoming an expanded function dental assistant. Some assistants even go on to become hygienists or dentists! But the opportunities don’t end there. Your journey could take you to office management, dental education, or even to being a dental lab technician.

“Without obtaining DANB CDA certification and completing the continuing education required to maintain it, I would not be where I am in my career today,” says Lisa Johnson, CDA, Ed.D., who began her career as a dental assistant and now works in higher education.

Check out the full DALE Foundation course catalog to see all your course options.