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Building On Your Dental Assisting Career: Becoming a Dental Hygienist

Building On Your Dental Assisting Career: Becoming a Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienist watches as patient examines teeth using a mirror at the dentist’s office

Dental professionals are in demand, including dental assistants and dental hygienists. In 2020, these two occupations made up about three-quarters of the people employed in dental careers. Both jobs provide rewarding opportunities for helping patients feel and look better. Dental assistants and hygienists find employment in similar settings. However, dental hygienists complete longer training programs and tend to earn higher salaries. For aspiring dental hygienists, starting with the dental assistant certificate program at Northwestern College, serving students in Oak Lawn, IL, and the greater Chicago area, may be a practical step in the right direction.

Quick Start to a Career as a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants provide patient care and administrative functions for dental practices. Depending on the size of the practice, they have a hand in almost every action. From making appointments to sterilizing equipment to handing the dentist tools during a procedure, these professionals are crucial to the smooth operation of any dental enterprise.

The initial educational program at Northwestern College can be completed in just one year. It includes classwork and hands-on training. At Northwestern College, all students are offered academic advising and peer tutoring services to help them complete their programs successfully. Students also gain the benefit of a required externship, where they gain real-world experience and networking opportunities in the greater Chicago area.

Gain Experience and Education

Working as a dental assistant can provide a steady income, pleasant work surroundings, and valuable experience. Assistants will find themselves receiving plenty of education on the job, as well. In the fast-paced and innovative field of dentistry, there is information about new materials and updated procedure protocols arriving all the time. Dentists often upgrade their imaging equipment and explore different treatments. A dental assistant is in an ideal situation to learn and advance their skills. They can also watch other dental professionals in action and decide whether they are interested in exploring different dental careers.

Move From Dental Assistant to Dental Hygienist

If a career as a dental hygienist proves appealing, dental assistants are in an ideal position to apply for admission to a training program. These are usually three years in length, and students obtain either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.

However, working dental assistants are already at an advantage, being familiar with oral healthcare and dental procedures. There are several other advantages to this approach, including:

  • Spreading out the amount of time spent learning a career
  • Allowing time to build up savings to pay for educational programs
  • Gaining real-world experience, contacts, and networks
  • Finding colleagues and coworkers who can become resources for career advancement

Dental hygiene programs require classroom instruction, as well as education on clinical and laboratory guidelines and procedures. All states in the United States require dental hygienists to be licensed, but the requirements for licensing vary between states.

We Help Dental Assistant Students Succeed

We want all our students to succeed at Northwestern College, and that’s why we offer so many useful services and resources for students. There are clubs and organizations for students to network and explore their academic interests. Tooth Be Told enables students in the Dental Assistant program to discover more about a variety of topics in the dental field. Career services help our students find jobs — we assist them in developing resumes, cover letters, and interview skills.

Discover a fulfilling career in the dental assistant program at Northwestern College. Open doors for career advancement by working as a dental assistant and moving toward becoming a dental hygienist. You can request information today to learn about our dental assistant schooling in Oak Lawn, IL, serving students in the greater Chicago area.