How to Become a Dental Assistant in Rhode Island
If you’re looking for a well-paying career, there are many different opportunities in the healthcare field. One of the best-paid healthcare opportunities in Rhode Island is dental assisting.
This position is also among the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. As a dental assistant, you’ll work closely with the dentist and the dental hygienist. Your tasks may be a blend of both dental care and office work.
Job Duties of a Dental Assistant
There’s little chance of being bored working as a dental assistant since you’ll be doing a variety of different tasks.
Your job duties may vary from one dental practice to another and may include:
- Preparing treatment rooms
- Directing patients to treatment rooms and making sure they’re comfortable
- Cleaning and sterilizing instruments
- Handing instruments to the dentist as requested and holding equipment if needed
- Completing lab tasks under the direction of the dentist
- Instructing patients on proper dental hygiene techniques and answering any questions they may have
- Keeping records of dental treatments
- Scheduling appointments
- Preparing dental insurance claims
- Communicating with patients about billing
You’ll frequently interact with patients and other dental team members, so it’s essential to enjoy working with people and have good communication skills. You’ll be able to positively impact patients’ lives by helping them feel comfortable or at ease.
Requirements to Become a Rhode Island Dental Assistant
If you’re considering a career as a dental assistant in Rhode Island, you need to have US work authorization and not have a serious criminal record. There are two levels of dental assistants in Rhode Island which are:
- Dental assistant – Learn through on-the-job training and perform dental procedures under the supervision of a licensed dentist
- DANB-certified dental assistant – Graduate from an accredited dental assistant program and pass the certified dental assistant exam through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)
For either type of dental assistant, you’ll need to be CPR-certified or hold a certificate of completion in Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider.
Rhode Island dental assistants also must complete one hour per year of training in CDC infection control.
To operate dental equipment and perform radiographic procedures, you’re required to complete a course in dental radiography. The program should be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Dental Assisting National Board
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is a non-profit organization that provides nationally recognized certification for dental assistants.
You can become certified through the DANB by taking the certified dental assistant exam, which is made up of three sections:
- General Chairside Assisting (GC)
- Infection Control (IC)
- Radiography (R)
The GC section tests your knowledge of general chairside assisting procedures. The IC section covers infection control and sterilization procedures. and The R section assesses your understanding of dental radiographic techniques and radiation safety principles.
You must pass all three sections to earn the certified dental assistant credential. You can register for the exam online through the DANB website. The fee for the exam is $400 for DANB members and $600 for non-members.
Once you pass the exam, you’ll need to renew your credential every three years by completing at least 75 continuing education credits.
Dental Assistant Schools in Rhode Island
Completing a formal dental assistant training program in Rhode Island can help you to learn valuable skills needed on the job. Dental assistant training programs in this state include:
Community College of Rhode Island
- Community College of Rhode Island – This program is offered at the Flanagan Campus in Lincoln, Rhode Island, and consists of both lecture and laboratory classes. It can be completed in one year.
- Lincoln Tech – This diploma program has a well-rounded curriculum that includes both instructor-led and hands-on practice in dental labs. The day program can be completed in approximately 51 weeks, and the evening program can be completed in about 72 weeks, including holidays and scheduled breaks.
You can also learn to be a dental assistant online. Penn Foster offers a career diploma program that can be completed online at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
How Much Do Rhode Island Dental Assistants Make?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for dental assistants was $41,080 as of May 2020. Across the country, pay ranges from around $28,940 to over $58,390.
In Rhode Island, the average wage as of August 2021 was $42,079, according to Salary.com.
Typically in this state, pay ranges between $37,315 and $46,692. Your salary is affected by how much training and experience you have along with the location.
Employment Outlook for Rhode Island Dental Assistants
The field of dental assisting is proliferating. Across the country, projected growth in this field is 7 percent between 2019 and 2029. There are 90 projected Rhode Island dental assistant job openings in Rhode Island each year, according to CareerOneStop.
Dental assisting is far from being a dead-end job. You have the potential to advance to more skilled careers, such as working as a dental hygienist. To become a dental hygienist, you’ll need either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. This would allow you to earn a higher salary and have even more job opportunities.
Working as a Dental Assistant in Rhode Island
There are both full-time and part-time job opportunities in dental assisting. Most involve daytime hours, but some settings have weekend and evening hours. Most dental assistants work in dentist offices, but there are some job opportunities in hospitals, schools, and government settings.
When you’re working, you’ll wear a mask, gloves, and protective clothing to protect yourself and patients from infection. It’s a fulfilling career, and you’ll find your skills are in demand all over Rhode Island, especially in Providence and other big cities.