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Career and Education Opportunities for Dental Assistants in Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for dental assistants. Currently, 9,380 people work as dental assistants in Washington. This is expected to grow by 20% to 11,240 people by 2016. 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.

The income of a dental assistant is about $17 per hour or $36,630 annually on average in Washington. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $15 per hour or $32,380 yearly on average. Earnings for dental assistants are better than earnings in the general category of Medical and Dental Assistance in Washington and better than general Medical and Dental Assistance category earnings nationally. Jobs in this field include: expanded dental assistant, surgical dental assistant, and dental office manager.

There are sixty-five schools of higher education in the Seattle area, including twelve within twenty-five miles of Seattle where you can get a degree to start your career as a dental assistant. Dental assistants usually hold a post-secondary certificate, so you can expect to spend a short time studying 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 Seattle 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

Everest College-Renton - Renton, WA

Everest College-Renton, 981 Powell Avenue, Sw, Suite 200, Renton, WA 98057. Everest College-Renton is a small college located in Renton, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 141 students and an admission rate of 50%. Everest College-Renton has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated thirty-three students in 2008.

Lake Washington Technical College - Kirkland, WA

Lake Washington Technical College, 11605 132nd Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98034-8506. Lake Washington Technical College is a small college located in Kirkland, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 3,010 students. Lake Washington Technical College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated twelve and twelve students respectively in 2008.

Everest College-Everett - Everett, WA

Everest College-Everett, 906 SE Everett Mall Parkway, 6th Floor, Everett, WA 98208. Everest College-Everett is a small college located in Everett, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 117 students and an admission rate of 99%. Everest College-Everett has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated fifty-four students in 2008.

Clover Park Technical College - Lakewood, WA

Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, WA 98499-4004. Clover Park Technical College is a medium sized college located in Lakewood, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 3,781 students. Clover Park Technical College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated sixteen and twelve students respectively in 2008.

Pima Medical Institute - Renton, WA

Pima Medical Institute, 555 South Renton Village Pl-Ste 110, Renton, WA 98055. Pima Medical Institute is a small school located in Renton, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 272 students. Pima Medical Institute has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated thirty-two students in 2008.

Everest College-Bremerton - Bremerton, WA

Everest College-Bremerton, 155 Washington Ave. Ste. 200, Bremerton, WA 98337. Everest College-Bremerton is a small college located in Bremerton, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 91 students and an admission rate of 100%. Everest College-Bremerton has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated forty-three students in 2008.

Pima Medical Institute - Seattle, WA

Pima Medical Institute, 9709 Third Ave NE Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98115. Pima Medical Institute is a small school located in Seattle, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 432 students. Pima Medical Institute has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated fourteen students in 2008.

Bates Technical College - Tacoma, WA

Bates Technical College, 1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405. Bates Technical College is a medium sized college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,807 students. Bates Technical College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated twenty-five and two students respectively in 2008.

Everest College-Tacoma - Tacoma, WA

Everest College-Tacoma, 2156 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402-3004. Everest College-Tacoma is a small college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 127 students and an admission rate of 96%. Everest College-Tacoma has a less than one year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated sixty-one students in 2008.

Seattle Vocational Institute - Seattle, WA

Seattle Vocational Institute, 2120 S Jackson, Seattle, WA 98144-2219. Seattle Vocational Institute is a small school located in Seattle, Washington. It is a public school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 270 students. Seattle Vocational Institute has a one to two year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated twenty-four students in 2008.

Kaplan College-Renton - Renton, WA

Kaplan College-Renton, 500 SW 39th St.-Suite 155, Renton, WA 98057. Kaplan College-Renton is a small college located in Renton, Washington. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 163 students. Kaplan College-Renton has a one to two year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated ten students in 2008.

Renton Technical College - Renton, WA

Renton Technical College, 3000 NE Fourth St, Renton, WA 98056-4195. Renton Technical College is a small college located in Renton, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,708 students. Renton Technical College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated twenty-nine and two students respectively 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: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.