How to Become a Dental Assistant in Illinois
If you’re a compassionate person who enjoys helping others, a career as a dental assistant may be for you.
A pivotal worker in the healthcare field, dental assistants help dentists with many tasks throughout the day, ensuring patients get the best possible care.
Education & Training
Those who want to start their career as a dental assistant will likely need to complete a post-secondary certification to qualify for many jobs. Many Illinois trade schools, vocational colleges, and community colleges offer state-approved classes and programs that can help individuals reach their goals.
During these programs, students learn the ins and outs of being a dental assistant. Some classes that dental assistants make take during the coursework are:
- Dental Terminology
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Chairside Assisting Techniques
- Computer Applications
- Dental Materials
- Practice Management
Students can learn in person from industry experts in classroom settings as well as get hands-on training in a clinical setting as part of their training. Some dental schools offer a hybrid combination of classes, allowing students to study and complete certain assignments and portions of the curriculum from the comfort of their homes.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of dental assistant education and training can vary depending on which school you choose. Some programs will cost around 2k to finish, while other state-certified programs will cost over 6k to complete.
Entry-Level Dental Assistants
Some employers may hire you to work as an entry-level dental assistant without receiving any training. However, in order to perform certain functions of the job, such as taking X-rays, you will need to receive formal training and/or education.
Earning a Certification
While not always necessary for gaining entry-level employment, earning your certification is an excellent way to get the necessary education and training to become a dental assistant.
Attending a Dental Assistant Program
State-approved programs offer students a convenient path to reach their career goals. Attending a dental assistant program allows you to learn from industry experts and receive helpful guidance every step of the way. In-person programs allow you to get experience in real-world settings, while some Illinois programs offer externships to qualified students.
How Long Does It Take?
As with the cost, the time it takes to finish a dental assistant program in IL depends on which one you choose. Some programs can take as little as ten months to complete, with other dental assistant programs can take around 18 months.
Illinois Dental Assistant Requirements
In the state of Illinois, a dental assistant may complete basic, entry-level procedures under the direct supervision of a dentist without receiving any formal training or education. However, many employers will still prefer that you have a certification.
In order to work as a qualified dental assistant in expanded functions, certain criteria must be met.
Dental Assistant Salaries in IL
Dental assistant salaries in the state of IL can vary depending on different factors. Circumstances such as the amount of experience a worker has, region, and the employer can all contribute to a worker’s annual salary. The average dental assistant salary in Illinois is around 46k.
Some potential salaries you could earn as a dental assistant in the state are:
- Chicago $46,511
- Springfield $41,723
- Joliet $45,330
- Rockford $43,420
- Wheaton $45,742
Dental assistants play an important role in the day-to-day operations of a dentist’s office. These workers help with things like patient care, recordkeeping, and scheduling appointments.
What Do They Do?
A typical dental assistant will complete the following tasks throughout their day:
- Ensure that the patient is comfortable in the dental chair
- Get the patient and work area prepped for the upcoming treatment or procedure
- Sterilize all dental instruments and tools
- Assist the dentist during the procedure
- Dry the patient’s mouth using a suction hose and/or other equipment
- Talk to the patient about proper oral hygiene
- Under the direction of a dentist, process the X-rays and complete lab tasks
- Schedule appointments with patients
- Work with patients on billing and payment
If you’re interested in joining the workforce as a dental assistant, you’re in luck. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for dental assistants nationwide will increase by around eight percent, or 56 thousand jobs per year, from 2021-2031. This will likely mean a signification addition of dental assistant jobs in Illinois.
The rise in these jobs is due to several different factors. With an aging baby boomer population, the need for trained individuals with knowledge of oral health will continue to increase. Some workers in the field will also retire or leave the profession, leaving the door open for newly trained workers to take their place.