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Career Outlook

Prevalence Employment Opportunities Employment Projections Fastest Growing Professions How NJ Compares

Prevalence of Dental Assistants

According to the US Department of Labor (DOL), there are approximately 300,000 dental assistants currently working in the United States with over 9000 in New Jersey alone.  In the Garden State (NJ) there are approximately 4 million employees across all professions, which means that less than of 1% of all people working in NJ are dental assistants.  This tells us that there is still plenty of room for growth in this career path. 

Further, 3% of all US dental assistants work in New Jersey.  If every state had an equal amount, then 2% of all dental assistants would work in NJ.  However given that NJ has one of the nation's highest populations 3% is about average.  Again, this suggests that there is plenty of room for growth while also proving that dental assisting is a well established career in the Garden State.

Also according to the DOL, approximately 93% of dental assistants work for a dentist in a dental office.  Others find work in places such as physician offices and with the government. 

On a nationwide basis, those who work for the federal government earned the most.  The second highest paying employer nationwide are speciality hospitals (such as those that specialize in psychiatric care), though there are very few of these positions available.  Among the more common employers, general hospitals ranked slightly higher nationwide in terms of pay than did private dental offices.

Employment Opportunities

Dental assistants can be found in a variety of settings.  A Dental Assisting National Board (DANB  [DANB Disclaimer]) survey was conducted in 2010 that showed the following information.  You may notice that some of the numbers will vary from the DOL data cited above.  This is due in part to the fact that the DANB survey was conducted on Certified Dental Assistant (CDA  [DANB Disclaimer]) certificants, while the DOL data is representative of all dental assistants regardless of what type of credentials they may or may not hold.  There will also be some variability in the numbers due to the nature of statistical methodology (i.e., the way that studies such as these are conducted).


Employment Setting:
Percentage:
Private offices
75%
Educational
12%
Hospitals
3%
Other/ Misc.
3%
Military
2%
Health department
1%
Prisons
<1%

Type of Dental Practice:
Percentage:
General dentistry
71%
Multi-speciality
9%
Orthodontic
5%
Pediatric
5%
Oral surgery
5%
Endodontic
2%
Periodontic
2%
Prosthodontic
<1%



Type of Area:
Percentage:
Small city or suburb
46%
Large city
27%
Rural area
17%
Metropolitan area
10%

Type of Employment:
Percentage:
Full-time
73%
Part-time
24%
Temporary
3%


Employment Projections

Dental assisting is expected to be among the fastest growing fields this decade.  The DOL expects that the trend of hiring experienced dental assistants over inexperienced assistants will continue.  In other words, those who have completed a formal training program and who are certified and/or licensed will have more job opportunities. 

Specifically, dental assisting as a field is expected to grow an impressive 36% by 2018!  See below to compare this to other quickly growing professions. 

There are a number of reasons for this large projection in growth.  People are living longer.  This means that as the population continues to age there will be an increased need for trained individuals to help with their oral healthcare.  Also as people learn more about the benefits of and engage in more preventative dental care still other people who have not traditionally been to a dental office are expected to do so in the next decade.  Sedation dentistry, holistic practices, and improved technology are also expected to encourage more people who have hesitated to seek proper dental care to do so in the future. 

Additionally, studies have shown that younger dentists are more likely than their older counterparts to employee dental assistants.  As more dentists retire and are replaced by younger ones, there should be an increase in the hiring of dental assistants.  Furthermore, as the workloads of dentists continue to increase they will likely hire more dental assistants so that they can focus their time and attention on more complex procedures.

Fastest Growing Professions

According to the Department of Labor, dental assisting is projected to be amongst the fastest growing occupations this decade.  Below you will find two versions of the same chart.  The first ranks professions according to the actual number of jobs that are expected to be added between 2008 and 2018, while the second ranks the same professions according to the percentage of job growth.

Ranked according to jobs expected to be added

Rank:
Profession:
Number of Jobs Expected to be Added: Percentage Growth:
1
Home health aides
460,900
50%
2
Personal and home care aides
375,800
46%
3
Computer software engineers
175,100
34%
4
Medical assistants
163,900
34%
5
Network systems analysts
155,800
53%
6
Dental assistants
105,600
36%
7
Self-enrichment teachers
81,300
32%
8
Compliance officers
80,800
31%
9
Dental hygienists
62,900
36%
10
Medical scientists
44,200
40%
11
Physician assistants
29,200
39%
12
Veterinary technicians
28,500
36%
13
Physical therapist assistants
21,200
33%
14
Veterinarians
19,700
33%
15
Physical therapist aides
16,700
36%
16
Aestheticians 14,700
38%
17
Biomedical engineers
11,600
72%
18
Financial examiners
11,100
41%
19
Biochemists and biophysicists
8700
37%
20
Athletic trainers
6000
37%
*Data for chart obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ranked according to percentage growth

Rank:
Profession: Percentage Growth:
Number of Jobs Expected to be Added:
1
Biomedical engineers
72%
11,600
2
Network systems analysts
53%
155,800
3
Home health aides
50%
460,900
4
Personal and home care aides
46%
375,800
5
Financial examiners
41%
11,100
6
Medical scientists
40%
44,200
7
Physician assistants
39%
29,200
8
Aestheticians 38%
14,700
9
Biochemists and biophysicists
37%
8700
10
Athletic trainers
37%
6000
11
Physical therapist aides
36%
16,700
12
Dental hygienists
36%
62,900
13
Veterinary technicians
36%
28,500
14
Dental assistants
36%
105,600
15
Computer software engineers
34%
175,100
16
Medical assistants
34%
163,900
17
Physical therapist assistants
33%
21,200
18
Veterinarians
33%
19,700
19
Self-enrichment teachers
32%
81,300
20
Compliance officers
31%
80,800
*Data for chart obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

How New Jersey Stacks Up


Salary Rankings by State for CDA Certificants  [DANB Disclaimer]:
Salary Rankings by State for All Dental Assistants:
Rank:
State:
1
District of Columbia
2
New Jersey
3
New Hampshire
4
Vermont
5
California
6
Massachusetts & Virginia
8
Alaska
9
Minnesota
10
Arizona, Connecticut, Ohio, & Maryland
48
Wyoming
49
New Mexico
50
Kansas
*Data for chart obtained from a DANB  [DANB Disclaimer]survey.

Rank:
State:
1
Delaware
2
District of Columbia
3 Maine
4
New Jersey
5
California
6
Alaska
7
Rhode Island
8
Massachusetts
9
New Hampshire
10
Maryland
48
Utah
49
South Dakota
50
Alabama
*Data for chart obtained from 729 Dental Assisting Digest readers.





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