Dental Assistant vs Medical Assistant: Which Should You Choose?

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Dental Assistant vs Medical Assistant

How often in life we’re asked to choose between two things.

And it is always a challenge to know if we’re making the right choice.

However, if we try to make it more practical and make it easier for us, we consider a few things in us which are in accordance with the options.

And then, only then, the path can be clearer.

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So, in this article, we will have to choose between Dental Assisting versus Medical Assisting.

To find out which one is for you, let’s read further.

If you’re choosing between a career as a dental assistant or medical assistant, you might notice that the two do not differ much with each other.

Both dental assistants and medical assistants perform their work under the supervision of licensed doctors such as medical physicians and dentists.

They both also offer supportive services in the office such as paperwork filing and patient record management.

Dental and medical assistants also help their supervising doctors or dentists in the exam room, checking patients’ vital signs and educate them on healthcare and dental care.

Despite their similarities, there are a few differences between these two career paths, however.

Medical assistants, for instance, can often be broken down into two categories.

They can be either clinical or administrative.

While dental assistants generally help with everything inside the office.

While medical assistants aren’t required to be certified beforehand, dental assistants, on the other hand, usually require some technical training to obtain a job.

assistant - dental vs medical

Educational Programs for Medical Assistants and Dental Assistants

Both dental assisting and medical assisting certificates or diplomas require about 9 to 12 months of study.

However, dental assistants are more often required to be certified.

While it’s easier for medical assistants to find work without training. In both fields, however, certification helps job candidates find employment in the meantime.

Both types of assistants are also able to earn an associate’s degree after 18 to 24 months of training, but this is not required to find an entry-level job.

An associate’s degree will, however, gives candidates an edge on the career field.

Depending on the type of work a medical assistant wishes to pursue, their training may be composed of administrative and clinical courses.

Dental assisting students often focus on more clinical education, but both fields require to attend a course in administrative and practical duties.

Dental assisting students can expect to learn about teeth, jaws, oral care, and other dental-related skills, while medical assistants focus on anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

The difference in Pay Between Dental Assistants and Medical Assistants

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), states that dental assistants made a slightly higher median income than medical assistants in 2017.

That year, dental assistants made a median salary of $37,630 while medical assistants made a median of $32,480.

Dental assistants are also expected to experience a faster employment growth rate in the next 10 years than do medical assistants.

While both fields are expected to grow faster than the average, dental assistants have a 29 percent predicted growth rate vs. medical assistants, who have a 19 percent predicted rate.

Which Career Path Is for You?

If you’re interested in entering either the medical assisting or dental assisting fields, take a look at your strengths and interests first.

To succeed in either of these fields, you should, however, fulfill a few conditions.

For instance, you need to be an excellent communicator, detail-oriented and a team worker.

However, some people may be better suited to assist in a medical office than a dental office due to the differences between the two roles.

Basically, if you’re a more hands-on person who wants to help assist with office exams, more opportunities for this type of work will come in a dental assistant position.

Otherwise, those who show more interest in the administrative side of things should check out a career in medical assisting.

Anyway, both paths will give you opportunities to interact with patients and assist in health fields.


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