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15 Hottest Health Care Fields of 2010

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#5 Dental Assistants

Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They prepare and lay out the instruments and materials required to treat each patient and obtain and update patients’ dental records. During dental procedures, assistants work alongside the dentist to provide assistance. They hand instruments and materials to dentists and keep patients’ mouths dry and clear. They also instruct patients on postoperative and general oral healthcare.

Relevant Statistics

  • Projected Need: 105,600

    Projected Growth: 36+%

    Median Wage: $32,380

Dentists are expected to hire more assistants to perform routine tasks so dentists may devote their time to more complex procedures, thus job prospects should be excellent. Many assistants learn their skills on the job, although an increasing number are trained in dental-assisting programs; most programs take 1 year or less to complete.

Almost half of dental assistants had a 35- to 40-hour workweek in 2008. More than one-third worked part time, or less than 35 hours per week, and many others have variable schedules.

More Resources:


Career Profile: Dental Assistant, Christopher Beadle
Career Guide: Dental Assistant
Quiz: What’s Your Healthcare Dream Job?


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