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Career and Education Opportunities for Dental Assistants in Chicago, Illinois

There are many career and education opportunities for dental assistants in the Chicago, Illinois area. There are currently 12,630 working dental assistants in Illinois; this should grow 38% to about 17,480 working dental assistants in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for dental assistants are expected to grow by about 35.8%. In general, dental assistants 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 $31,420 annually on average in Illinois and about $15 hourly or $32,380 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Compared with people working in the overall category of Medical and Dental Assistance, people working as dental assistants in Illinois earn more. They earn more than people working in the overall category of Medical and Dental Assistance nationally. Jobs in this field include: dental office manager, expanded duty dental assistant, and expanded dental assistant.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including seven within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as a dental assistant. The most common level of education for dental assistants is a post-secondary certificate. It will take a short time to learn to be 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 Chicago 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

Indiana University-Northwest - Gary, IN

Indiana University-Northwest, 3400 Broadway, Gary, IN 46408-1197. Indiana University-Northwest is a small university located in Gary, Indiana. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,794 students and an admission rate of 80%. Indiana University-Northwest has a one to two year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated seventeen students in 2008.

Illinois School of Health Careers - Chicago, IL

Illinois School of Health Careers, 11 East Adams St. Ste 200, Chicago, IL 60603. Illinois School of Health Careers is a small school located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 175 students. Illinois School of Health Careers has a one to two year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated seventy-seven students in 2008.

Everest College-Chicago - Chicago, IL

Everest College-Chicago, 247 South State Street #400, Chicago, IL 60604. Everest College-Chicago is a small college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 596 students and an admission rate of 48%. Everest College-Chicago has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated seventy-nine students in 2008.

Everest College-Burr Ridge - Burr Ridge, IL

Everest College-Burr Ridge, 6880 N Frontage Rd-Ste 400, Burr Ridge, IL 60527. Everest College-Burr Ridge is a small college located in Burr Ridge, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 446 students and an admission rate of 46%. Everest College-Burr Ridge has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated sixty-four students in 2008.

Illinois School of Health Careers-O'Hare Campus - Chicago, IL

Illinois School of Health Careers-O'Hare Campus, 8750 W Bryn Mawr Ste 300, Chicago, IL 60631. Illinois School of Health Careers-O'Hare Campus is a small school located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 76 students. Illinois School of Health Careers-O'Hare Campus has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated thirty-eight students in 2008.

City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College - Chicago, IL

City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N Narragansett, Chicago, IL 60634-1500. City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College is a large college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 11,677 students. City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated six students in 2008.

Everest College-Merrillville - Merrillville, IN

Everest College-Merrillville, 707 E 80th Pl Ste 200, Merrillville, IN 46410. Everest College-Merrillville is a small college located in Merrillville, Indiana. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 290 students and an admission rate of 72%. Everest College-Merrillville has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated eighty-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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.