5 Entry-Level Dental Careers to Consider in Tacoma

dental assistant rinsing patient mouth during cleaning with dentist in background

Tacoma, nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, is a city known for its vibrant culture, stunning waterfront views, and growing healthcare industry. With the increasing demand for dental care, Tacoma offers numerous opportunities for those looking to start a career in the dental field. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate or considering a career change, there are several entry-level positions within the dental industry that can provide a rewarding and stable career path.

Starting a career in dentistry doesn’t necessarily require years of schooling. Many entry-level positions offer on-the-job training or require only a short-term certification program. This makes the dental field an accessible and attractive option for many. In this blog, we’ll explore five entry-level dental careers to consider in Tacoma, each offering a unique role within a dental practice. We’ll start with the most well-known position, the dental assistant, and then delve into other essential roles such as dental technician, dental radiographer, patient care coordinator, and dental receptionist.

1. Dental Assistant

Dental assistants play a critical role in the smooth operation of dental practices. They provide essential support to dentists and ensure that patients receive high-quality care. In Tacoma, dental assistants are in high demand due to the growing number of dental clinics and the emphasis on preventative dental care.

Dental assistants fulfill a range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Assisting the dentist during procedures by handing tools and materials.

  • Sterilizing instruments and ensuring a clean and safe work environment.

  • Managing patient records and scheduling appointments.

To become a dental assistant in Tacoma, you typically need to complete a certification program, which can be as short as 12 weeks. Tacoma Dental Assistant School offers a comprehensive program that covers essential skills such as sterilization techniques, chairside duties, dental anatomy, and procedure preparation.

2. Dental Technician

Dental technicians, also known as dental lab technicians, work behind the scenes to create dental prosthetics such as crowns, bridges, dentures, and orthodontic appliances. Their work is crucial in restoring patients’ smiles and improving their oral health.

The primary duties of a dental technician include:

  • Creating dental prosthetics based on dentist’s specifications.

  • Ensuring that all products meet quality and safety standards.

  • Using molds and impressions to fabricate dental appliances.

Becoming a dental technician generally requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training. However, many employers prefer candidates who have completed a dental lab technology program. These programs, available at community colleges and technical schools, typically take about two years to complete.

3. Dental Radiographer

Dental radiographers, or dental X-ray technicians, are responsible for taking diagnostic images of patients’ teeth and jaws. These images help dentists diagnose and treat dental conditions effectively. Dental radiographers must adhere to strict safety protocols to protect themselves and their patients from radiation exposure.

Key responsibilities of a dental radiographer include:

  • Taking X-rays of patients’ teeth and jaws.

  • Positioning patients and equipment correctly to capture clear images.

  • Ensuring compliance with safety standards and regulations.

To become a dental radiographer in Tacoma, you need to complete a dental radiography certification program. These programs can be completed in a few months and include both classroom instruction and hands-on training. Some dental assistant programs also offer radiography training as part of their curriculum.

4. Patient Care Coordinator

Patient care coordinators serve as the liaison between the dental office and the patients. They ensure that patients have a positive experience from the moment they walk into the clinic until their treatment is complete. This role is ideal for individuals with strong organizational and communication skills.

The typical responsibilities of a patient care coordinator can include:

  • Greeting and checking in patients.

  • Coordinating treatment plans with dentists and other staff.

  • EProviding information about dental services and procedures.

While a high school diploma is typically sufficient for this role, additional training in medical or dental office administration can be beneficial. Strong customer service skills and proficiency with office software are also important. On-the-job training is often provided.

5. Dental Receptionist

Dental receptionists are the front line of any dental practice. They manage the administrative tasks that keep the office running smoothly and provide excellent customer service to patients. This entry-level position is perfect for individuals who enjoy interacting with people and have good organizational skills.

The primary duties of a dental receptionist include:

  • Answering phone calls and directing them to the appropriate staff.

  • Greeting patients and handling check-ins and check-outs.

  • Processing payments and handling billing inquiries.

A high school diploma is generally required for this role. Familiarity with office software and previous experience in a customer service role can be advantageous. Many dental offices provide on-the-job training for new receptionists to help them learn the specific systems and procedures used in the practice.

Pursue a Dental Career Today

Starting a career in the dental field can be both fulfilling and lucrative. Tacoma offers a variety of entry-level dental positions that cater to different interests and skill sets. Whether you prefer direct patient interaction or working behind the scenes, there’s a role for you. The demand for dental professionals continues to grow, ensuring job stability and opportunities for advancement.

If you’re considering a career as a dental assistant, Tacoma Dental Assistant School is a leading institution offering world-class education. Their 12-week dental assistant course has helped thousands of aspiring dental assistants gain in-demand skills in sterilization, chairside duties, dental anatomy, procedure preparation, and more. By enrolling in Tacoma Dental Assistant School, you’ll be taking a significant step toward a rewarding career in the dental field.

Embark on your journey today and discover the fulfilling opportunities that await you in Tacoma’s vibrant dental community.

Apply today to get started.

Picture of Author: Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie

Lead Copywriter
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Lead Copywriter
| Click to open Lisa Leslie's LinkedIn Profile

Lisa Leslie, a professional copywriter based in New Hampshire, is the Content Manager and Lead Copywriter at Zollege, the parent company of a network of over 120 medical assistant and dental assistant schools ...

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