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Are you looking for a new move, adventure, or career change? Maybe you want to start fresh or even begin a new healthcare career without accumulating student debt. If so, a career in dental assisting in the Pacific Northwest is a great place to start!

Oregon and Washington State Employment Statistics

The average dental assistant salary in Washington is just over $22/hr. That’s over $46,000 per year working full-time as a dental assistant. No college degree is required! In Oregon, dental assistants make almost $48,000 on average annually. In metro areas like Albany and Redmond, OR, the pay is nearly $50,000 a year for an experienced dental assistant. Yes, including those who graduate from technical institutes and vocational schools. 

With an average salary nearly double the living wage in Oregon, dental assistants can receive on-the-job training without the thousands of dollars of student loan debt that comes with a 4-year degree. In addition, the living index for Oregon and Washington fits with national average trends that make the Northwest a great place to live.

There are over 2,900 dentists currently working in Oregon and over 4,400 in Washington. Many dental practices employ 2-3 dental assistants or more, depending on the type of practice and how many patients they see. In some regions of Washington, there is even a shortage of dental providers, making it one of the best states for new dentists to come and open private practices for underserved populations (thus creating new dental assisting jobs.)

Considering that the average 2-bedroom apartment in Washington is about 1,500 a month ($1,250 for a one-bedroom) and in Oregon, it’s about $1,300 for a two-bedroom ($1,075 for a one-bedroom), dental assistant jobs can help you start out on the right foot when you’re moving out on your own or looking to settle down somewhere. 

What is a Dental Assistant?

Dental assistants work next to licensed dentists to provide direct patient care. Complete tasks like reviewing the patient’s medical history, taking blood pressure, scheduling appointments, assisting during clinical procedures (like dental fillings and crowns), or even oral surgery (extractions, wisdom tooth removal, etc.) Some dental assistants work in specialty practices like pediatric offices, orthodontic practices, dental implant clinics, or other settings.

Dental assistant employment is typically full-time, Mon-Fri. However, some dental assistant jobs offer 4-day workweeks, evenings, or weekend hours if you’re looking for a non-traditional schedule or to pick up extra hours during the holidays. 

As a dental assistant, you’re one of the dental staff patients spend the most time with. You’ll help keep them relaxed, answer questions they have about procedures and home care, and explain what they can expect during their appointment. You’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of dental health and care processes.

Job Training and Licensure

Dental assistants do require specific training and credentials depending on which state they want to work in. Our 12-week dental assistant program identifies whether you’re choosing to go into assisting in Oregon or Washington at the time of enrollment so that we can ensure you meet any other states’ requirements after completing your training. Sometimes a test or exam is required, while others need more clinical training hours before the final certification process. Dentists enjoy working with our assisting students because of the comprehensive design of our program and the technology we expose our students to before entering the workforce.

Some people start out as a dental assistant with plans to eventually become a dental hygienist or even go on to dental school. Dental assisting is a front-row seat to the dental industry and can even look good on your application to universities and dental schools. Considering the affordable training experience won’t leave you in debt, it’s a smart way to pursue your dream of a dental career and not feel locked in if you decide to do something else later. However, many dental assisting professionals are people who have been in the year for a lifetime because they love it so much.

Be Sure to Attend the Right Assisting School

The choice of dental assistant school is crucial for ensuring a successful career. Our program covers a wide range of subjects, including medical emergencies, X-ray techniques, dental materials, and software. We are committed to producing highly qualified and competitive graduates who are well-prepared for the workforce. In fact, dentists often prefer to hire graduates from our dental assisting school because of their practical chairside skills and strong work ethic. We also have connections with local dentists and can help our students find employment opportunities.

Is Dental Assisting School Right for You?

Job satisfaction rates for dental assistants are extremely high, with an estimated 82% of currently employed assistants reporting high or very high job satisfaction. Most feel highly valued by their employer dentists and feel like they’re making a difference in the lives of others. Plus, working in a dental office is like having a second family; practices tend to be tightly knit with long-lasting friendships that stay with you throughout your career. And the fact that dental assistant salaries are competitive for entry-level professionals is an added plus.

If you’re considering becoming a dental assistant, our dental assisting program directors are happy to answer any questions you might have. From tuition assistance to job placement, we only want you to succeed. Contact us today to learn more about job training specifically for dental assistants in the Pacific Northwest.