How to become a dental office manager

Dental assistant in scrubs in dental office talking on phone

Are you looking to become a dental office manager?

It’s no surprise that office management appeals to many dental professionals. A dental office manager is often viewed as one of the leaders in the practice. They oversee the day-to-day operations of the dental office so that dentists can concentrate on patient care. The job's wide-ranging duties may include supervising staff, maintaining appointment schedules, coordinating patient treatment, and managing finances.

As such, dental office management job titles vary. For example, titles may include office manager, patient coordinator, business manager, practice administrator, or insurance and finance coordinator. As you can see, for dental office managers, the possibilities are endless!

Salary is always a hot topic, and many prospective dental office managers are interested to know about the typical wages for this role. According to PayScale, as of April 2022, dental office managers in the United States earn an average of $24.00 per hour. Like dental assistant salaries, practice type and size, location, and years of experience as a dental office manager will also impact salary levels. Therefore, you may want to consult a variety of sources to get the most accurate picture of what to expect.

How can you become a dental office manager? Read on to learn more!

Learn on the job

Ask dental office managers about their career paths, and you’ll likely hear a variety of responses. Some dental office managers begin their careers working as a chairside dental assistant; others start working at the dental office’s front desk. Some dental office managers may have a degree in business or administration, but many are trained on the job.

If you would like to test out whether it's right for you, consider asking your current employer if you can become cross-trained in dental office management. This approach will not only help you learn about the role, but it also will help you contribute more to the dental office by stepping in wherever you are needed most.

Pursue education

Typically, dental office managers have a variety of educational backgrounds. Some dental office managers have bachelor’s or associate degrees or some other type of formal education. But there are a variety of other educational opportunities available outside of a college or university setting.

For example, the DALE Foundation offers online courses in topics such as Accounts Receivable for the Dental OfficeHR Fundamentals for the Dental Office and  Financial Reporting for the Dental Office. You can take these courses online at your convenience, as well as qualify for Fellowship requirements set by the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), the membership association dedicated to dental office management.

You also may be interested in exploring the learning resources available through AADOM’s virtual eCampus.

Get involved in the field

All dental professionals can benefit from becoming involved in the dental community. With this in mind, if you’re an office manager, or are looking to become one, you may want to consider joining AADOM. By joining AADOM or attending an AADOM conference, you can connect with other dental professionals and gain more support and resources.

If you’re already part of the AADOM community and you have more than three years of dental office management experience, earning AADOM Fellowship increases your visibility and career opportunities.

“Even if you’re not going to get AADOM Fellowship — which I would encourage — take DALE Foundation courses,” recommends Terri Lenihan, CDPMA, FAADOM, AADOM’s 2017 Practice Administrator of the Year. “They are a huge help.”