California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Dental Assistants in California

May also be called: Registered Dental Assistants (RDA); Certified Registered Dental Assistants; Surgical Dental Assistants; and Orthodontic Assistants.

What Would I Do?

Dental Assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They work chairside as dentists examine and treat patients. Duties can vary depending upon the size of the practice, with larger offices resulting in greater job specialization.

Dental Assistants work in pleasant, well-lit dental offices and clinics. The position requires some walking, standing, standing from a seated position, and reaching for instruments.

Will This Job Fit Me?

This job would appeal to a person who enjoys interacting with and helping people.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2016 for Dental Assistants in California is $37,822 annually, or $18.18 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$30,602$37,822$47,815
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits vary substantially by practice setting and may be contingent upon full-time employment.

Most dental practices offer full-time Dental Assistants vacation and sick leave. Other benefits may include medical, dental, vision, life insurance, and/or retirement plans. Generally, part-time Assistants receive fewer benefits. However, some part-time employees receive medical and dental insurance and vacation.

What is the Job Outlook?

In general, the outlook for this occupation should be good. The demand for Dental Assistants will be spurred by the need to spare the dentist the more routine tasks in favor of more complex, and financially rewarding, procedures. The majority of job openings will occur due to the need to replace workers who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force.

How Do I Qualify?

Prospective Dental Assistants can learn what they need to know either on the job or in a program at a public or private college or technical training provider.

Finding a Job

Direct application to private dental offices is an excellent way of locating openings. Sometimes one office will know of opportunities in another dental office. Private colleges and vocational schools may offer placement assistance, as do many community colleges. Many employers recruit job applicants through newspaper advertisements.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).


Learn More About Dental Assistants