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Career and Education Opportunities for Dental Assistants in Santa Clara, California

Dental assistant career and educational opportunities abound in Santa Clara, California. About 41,600 people are currently employed as dental assistants in California. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 35% to 56,100 people employed. This is not quite as good as the national trend for dental assistants, which sees this job pool growing by about 35.8% over the next eight years. Dental assistants generally assist dentist, set up patient and equipment, and keep records.

A person working as a dental assistant can expect to earn about $15 per hour or $32,260 per year on average in California and about $15 hourly or $32,380 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for dental assistants are better than earnings in the general category of Medical and Dental Assistance in California and better than general Medical and Dental Assistance category earnings nationally. People working as dental assistants can fill a number of jobs, such as: orthodontist assistant, certified registered dental assistant, and oral surgery assistant.

The Santa Clara area is home to thirty-five schools of higher education, including four within twenty-five miles of Santa Clara where you can get a degree as a dental assistant. The most common level of education for dental assistants is a post-secondary certificate. You can expect to spend a short time training to become a dental assistant if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Dental Assistant

Dental Assistant video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, dental assistants assist dentist, set up patient and equipment, and keep records.

Dental assistants ready patients, sterilize and disinfect instruments, prepare instrument trays and assist dentists during dental procedures. They also expose dental diagnostic x-rays. Equally important, dental assistants have to provide postoperative instructions prescribed by dentists. They are often called upon to pour and polish study casts. They are expected to record treatment data in patient archives. Finally, dental assistants order and monitor dental supplies and apparatus inventory.

Every day, dental assistants are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for dental assistants to take and record medical and dental histories and vital signs of patients. They are often called upon to instruct patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs. They also clean and polish removable appliances. They are sometimes expected to schedule appointments, ready bills and receive payment for dental services, complete insurance forms, and maintain records, manually or using computer. Somewhat less frequently, dental assistants are also expected to apply protective coating of fluoride to teeth.

and make preliminary impressions for study casts and occlusal registrations for mounting study casts. And finally, they sometimes have to clean and polish removable appliances.

Like many other jobs, dental assistants must have a strong concern for others and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Santa Clara include:

  • Medical Assistant. Perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of physician. Administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by physician.
  • Medical Equipment Technician. Prepare, sterilize, or clean laboratory or healthcare equipment. May perform routine laboratory tasks and operate or inspect equipment.
  • Psychiatric Aide. Assist mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients, working under direction of nursing and medical staff.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Dental Assistant Training

Western Career College-San Jose - San Jose, CA

Western Career College-San Jose, 6201 San Ignacio, San Jose, CA 95119. Western Career College-San Jose is a small college located in San Jose, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 691 students and an admission rate of 100%. Western Career College-San Jose has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated fifty and one students respectively in 2008.

San Jose City College - San Jose, CA

San Jose City College, 2100 Moorpark Ave, San Jose, CA 95128-2798. San Jose City College is a large college located in San Jose, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 11,574 students. San Jose City College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated thirty-eight, twelve, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Foothill College - Los Altos Hills, CA

Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022. Foothill College is a large college located in Los Altos Hills, California. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 19,837 students. Foothill College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated twenty, eighteen, and zero students respectively in 2008.

Everest College-San Jose - San Jose, CA

Everest College-San Jose, 1245 South Winchester Blvd #102, San Jose, CA 95128. Everest College-San Jose is a small college located in San Jose, California. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 139 students and an admission rate of 40%. Everest College-San Jose has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated sixty-three students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Associate Fellow: Your Associate Fellow certificate lets your patients know that you are an experienced, credentialed implant professional.

For more information, see the American Academy of Implant Dentistry website.

Registered Dental Assistant: A Dental Assistant is an integral member of the dental health team, competent via education, experience, and understanding of patient welfare.

For more information, see the American Medical Technologists website.

Certified Othodontic Assistant: The COA examination in Orthodontic Assisting was added in 1986 to offer credentialing for assistants specializing in orthodontic assisting procedures.

For more information, see the Dental Assisting National Board website.

Certified Dental Technician: Certification is the process of assessing a dental technician's knowledge and applied skill level necessary to perform the tasks required of a dental technician.

For more information, see the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology website.

LICENSES

Dental Assistant - Registered

Licensing agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
Address: Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, 1428 Howe Avenue, Suite 58, Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: (916) 263-2595
Website: Department of Consumer Affairs Committee on Dental Auxiliaries

Extended Functions - Dental Auxiliaries (Dental Assistant)

Licensing agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
Address: Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, 1428 Howe Avenue, Suite 58, Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: (916) 263-2595
Website: Department of Consumer Affairs Committee on Dental Auxiliaries

Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice (RDHAP)

Licensing agency: Department of Consumer Affairs
Address: Committee on Dental Auxiliaries, 1428 Howe Avenue, Suite 58, Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: (916) 263-2595
Website: Department of Consumer Affairs Committee on Dental Auxiliaries

LOCATION INFORMATION: Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara, California
Santa Clara, California photo by Coolcaesar

Santa Clara is located in Santa Clara County, California. It has a population of over 110,200, which has grown by 7.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Santa Clara, 158, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Santa Clara cost $196,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, forty-three new homes were constructed in Santa Clara, down from eighty-five the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Santa Clara are computer and electronic products, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is computer and electronic products, professional, scientific, and technical services, and construction. The average commute to work is about 22 minutes. More than 42.4% of Santa Clara residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 16.6%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Santa Clara is 10.9%, which is less than California's average of 12.3%.

The percentage of Santa Clara residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 43.2%, is less than both the national and state average. Peace Lutheran Church, Good News Community Church and Universal Church of the Master are some of the churches located in Santa Clara. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Muslim Estimate.

Santa Clara is home to the Santa Clara Unified School District Office and the Santa Clara Municipal Golf Course as well as Westwood Acres Park and Washington Park. Shopping centers in the area include Moonlite Shopping Center, Fairway Glen Shopping Center and Youth Shopping Center.