Dental Assistant vs. Medical Assistant

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People attracted by careers that will allow them to help people in need are sometimes quite indecisive, as they are both interested in becoming medical and dental assistants.

Actually, these two career fields are quite similar.

You should know that both dental and medical assistants are required to work under the supervision of licensed doctors, that is physicians and dentists.

When entering an office, they are the first ones that patients meet and are supposed to offer supportive services.

They are in charge of paperwork filing and patient record management, as well as helping and assisting doctors or dentists in the exam room.

Last, but not least, dental and medical assistants should educate patients on healthcare and dental care.

Now that we have mentioned all the similarities, we need to pay attention to a few differences that exist between these two careers.

Medical assistants are divided into two categories, clinical or administrative.

On the other hand, dental assistants are supposed to perform both clinical and administrative duties in the office.

Also, medical assistants are not required to possess certification to be allowed to work, while dental assistants must have some technical training to obtain a job.

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Education Requirements for Medical Assistants and Dental Assistants

As we have already mentioned, to become a dental assistant or medical assistant you will need to gain a diploma, which usually takes 9 to 12 months of education.

But, dental assistants are supposed to keep on advancing as they are required to hold certification to be allowed to work.

On the other hand, medical assistants can find work without training.

Nevertheless, if you wish to advance in the medical assisting fled you can go for certification which will help you find employment and negotiate the salary.

Furthermore, both types of assistants can earn an associate’s degree but this level of education requires 18 to 24 months of training.

Medical assistant training can be composed of administrative and clinical courses, depending on which duties he/she wants to perform.

Dental assisting courses are more focused on clinical education.

The difference in the courses is that dental assisting students will learn about teeth, jaws, oral care, and dental-related skills, while medical assistants’ courses will be anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

The difference in Salary Between Dental Assistants and Medical Assistants

If we take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental assistants’ median income is $37,630 while medical assistants made a median of $32,480.

When job growth is in question, it is believed that dental assistants will experience a faster employment growth rate.

Dental assistants have a 29% predicted growth rate while medical assistants have a 19% predicted rate.

Which Career Path Is The Right One for You?

When deciding whether to either the medical assisting or dental assisting fields, you first need to make sure which one of these careers is in line with your strengths and interests.

Being successful in these fields depends on your skills and qualities.

Some people find it more attractive to assist in a medical office than a dental office due to the differences between the two roles.

If you are more interested in administration, you should look for a career in medical assisting.


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