Dental Office Receptionist School Program Information

The work of dental office receptionists includes filing forms, staffing the front desk and taking phone calls. Training courses for this career are usually part of academic programs in dental assisting. This article describes certificate and associate degree programs in dental office assisting, along with typical coursework and employment prospects.

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Certificate in Dental Office Assisting

The certificate prepares students to work in dental offices, whether as receptionists, office managers, laboratory assistants or medical assistants. It combines training for office work, such as administration and office procedures, with education on healthcare, medical ethics, dental technology and other topics specific to the dental field.

Program Coursework

Some classes in the certificate in dental assisting program, such as computer literacy, cover the career of dental office receptionist. Others like dental radiology reflect more medical work. Course topics in this program include:

  • Computer applications
  • Medical terminology
  • Administrative procedures
  • Clinical practice
  • Office management

Associate of Science in Dental Office Assisting

At the associate degree level, there are academic programs available in dental assisting, as well as dental office management, which emphasize the business side of dental practice; business duties include managing an office or working in insurance. Associate degrees in dental assisting cover the same areas as the certificate: clinical skills, dental technology, office management and other areas where dental assistants are needed. They typically take two years, and may require students to already have a certificate in dental assisting.

Program Coursework

Courses for the associate's degree in dental assisting are similar to the ones for the certificate, preparing the student for work in the dental office, laboratory or clinic. Common classes in a dental office assisting degree program include:

  • Dental terminology
  • Dental radiography
  • Dental office procedures
  • Chairside assisting
  • Medical billing and insurance

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, the average hourly salary of dental assistants was $16.86 in May 2012. The BLS expects employment in dental assisting to grow 31% between 2010-2020, significantly faster than the 14% average for all careers. This increase may be due to the growing population of older individuals wishing to keep their original teeth longer, as well as dentists hiring additional dental assistants to perform more routine tasks.

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