Becoming a Dental Administrator: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a dental administration career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a dental administrator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Dental Administration

A dental administrator takes care of administrative and office tasks associated with a dental practice. Before enrolling in a formal training program, you should be aware of the pros and cons associated with this career to understand if dental administration is right for you.

Pros of a Career as a Dental Administrator
Excellent job prospects (positions for medical secretaries were projected to grow by 36% from 2012-2022)*
Good salary (most dental office managers made between $32,000 and $61,000 as of 2015)**
May require only a high school diploma, certificate or associate's degree*
Full-time work in an office*

Cons of a Career as a Dental Administrator
May need a bachelor's degree to have the best job opportunities*
Must be knowledgeable of dental terminology and practice*
Must be able to deal with all types of individuals, including those in pain*
Work may be stressful, repetitious and tiring*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Career Information

Job Description

Dental administrators may function as financial officers, treatment coordinators, receptionists, office managers or all four. They might greet patients, bill patients and collect payments, help patients work out dental treatment plans and submit insurance claims.

Additionally, dental administrators might make sure that equipment, such as computers and peripherals, along with associated software, is running properly. They might oversee employees who keep records and perform accounting functions or, in a small office, they might do it themselves.

Career Prospects and Salary Info

PayScale.com reported in July 2015 that most dental office managers made between $32,000 and $61,000 annually, which included overtime, bonuses and profit sharing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides job outlook data for medical secretaries, which includes dental administrators (www.bls.gov). Job growth for this group was anticipated to increase by 36% over the period 2012-2022. This growth was expected to be spurred by the growing social assistance and healthcare industries and a growing aging population.

What Are the Requirements?

You can become a dental administrator with just a high school diploma and on-the-job training, or you can seek formal training through a certificate or associate's degree program. Students generally take courses in quantitative reasoning, dental terminology, dental charting, recall management, dental insurance, fiscal management and computer applications, in addition to completing an internship or co-op. Other courses might include payroll accounting, management of office systems, simulation of a dental office and intro to Spanish. Students need to become familiar with commonly used office software, such as Microsoft Office.

Skills necessary to be a dental administrator include critical thinking, decision making, customer service and time management. Dental administrators must have the ability to multi-task and work as part of a team.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Most employers seek dental administrators who have experience working in a dental office, as well as knowledge of dental office management software, like Dentrix. Below are samples of open jobs for dental administrators that were posted online in April 2012.

  • A Massachusetts dental practice advertised for a dental administrator with two years of experience in a dental office or in administration.
  • A periodontal practice in Memphis was looking for a dental administrator to schedule appointments, answer phone calls, file records and call patients when they miss an appointment. Candidates needed dental administration and MS Office and Dentrix experience.
  • A dental office in Ohio advertised for a front office dental administrator with dental office experience and customer service, math and computer skills. Dentrix software experience was preferred.

How to Stand Out

It might be a good idea to learn another language, such as Spanish, to be able to communicate effectively with all patients. Also, many job ads indicate that employers look for candidates with good computer skills. Keeping your computer skills up-to-date and becoming proficient in dental administration-specific software could give you a leg up on the competition.

Other Career Paths

Would you like to work in a dental office, but not as an administrator? Consider becoming a dental assistant or dental hygienist. Educational requirements to become a dental assistant depend upon the state in which you work and range from a high school diploma and on-the-job training to completion of a certificate or diploma program. Licensure and certification requirements also vary by state. Some states require that you become certified by the Dental Assisting National Board or that you obtain a state license. Dental assistants made a median salary of about $34,000 as of 2011, and jobs for dental assistants were expected to increase by 31% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

A dental hygienist cleans patients' teeth, takes X-rays and may treat some dental problems. Generally, a dental hygienist needs an associate's degree and a state license. Hygienists made a median annual salary of about $69,000 as of 2011, and job prospects were anticipated to increase by 38% between 2010 and 2020, according to BLS.

Popular Schools

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    1. George Mason University

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      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
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    2. Johns Hopkins University

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    Certificate
      • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise
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    3. American University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
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    4. Herzing University

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      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
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      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
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    5. Virginia College

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      • Associate: Medical Assistant
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    6. Colorado Technical University

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      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
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      • MS - Healthcare Management
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    7. Brightwood College

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    8. Kaplan University

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      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
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      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
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      • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Johns Hopkins University

  • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise

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American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

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Virginia College

  • Associate: Medical Assistant

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Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

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Brightwood College

  • Dental Assistant

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Kaplan University

  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
  • Bachelor: Health Science
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin

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