Education and Training: High school and specialized training
Average Salary: $13.78 per hour – median wage
Job Outlook: Very good
Basic Job Description
Dental receptionists are an important part of any dental organization. They are the first people patients come into contact with when visiting a dental office. Because of this, they must make a good first impression. Receptionists are responsible for answering phones, welcoming visitors, answering questions from the public, and organizing an office. Other responsibilities include possibly handling mail and patients’ personal and confidential information, like dental insurance forms.
Dental receptionists are required to perform a number of different tasks during the course of a day, and must be good at multi-tasking. At any given moment, a dental receptionist can be answering the phones, logging information into a computer, or performing administrative tasks like filing and organizing documents. Dental offices can get very busy, so receptionists must be alert at all times to handle the workload.
Education and Training Requirements
Receptionists are usually required to have at least a high school diploma, but further schooling like an associate’s or bachelor’s degree will help in a job search. Someone who wants to be a dental receptionist should take high school and college classes that focus on computer skills – like knowledge of spreadsheets, databases and word processing programs – secretarial skills, and business and interpersonal communication. Many two- and four-year colleges have degree and certificate programs for people who want to become receptionists. Once someone secures a position as a dental receptionist, there will be on-the-job training as they will learn the specific procedures that are required for the office where they work.
Getting the Job
Networking, schooling, and prior work experience will help you obtain a position as a dental receptionist. Prior experience in working in this field will help, but is not necessarily a requirement. Dental receptionists may be hired on a temporary basis, through an internship or apprenticeship, or by just applying to a job opening.
Anyone considering a dental receptionist career should look for internship or apprenticeship opportunities during summer breaks for school, or try to secure part-time hours while going to high school or college. The relationships you create by doing a good job during an internship or part-time work could lead to a full-time position once you graduate.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
The United States Department of Labor projects the need for dental receptionists to grow faster than the average of all occupations. There is expected to be a large amount of openings in the dental receptionist field because offices will have to replace workers who leave the labor force and take new jobs.
The Department of Labor projects a 15 percent increase in the number of receptionist positions from 2008 to 2018, with a large number of those openings due to increases in the need for receptionists in the dental and health fields.
There are some factors that could influence hiring. Technological advances like voicemail allow for offices to hire less dental receptionists than maybe were needed in the past. However, dental offices are in need of dental receptionists who possess advanced technological skills to help with the increasing need to perform clerical tasks via computer programs.
A growing segment of this employment sector is virtual assistants, where receptionists are hired to perform work but are not required to work in the office. Technology allows for calls and computer work to be done from anywhere, so the possibility exists one can obtain a position as a dental receptionist but not have to work in the office full-time.
Demand is expected to be steady for dental receptionists, though, because much of the work requires interpersonal tasks that cannot be, or are not easily, automated.
Dental receptionists have a number of career options available to them. They can transfer to positions with more responsibility, be promoted to a supervisory role, or advance to better-paying jobs like secretary and office assistant.
Working Conditions and Environment
Dental receptionists will typically work in office areas. Since they greet patients and are the first person most people who contact or visit the dental office, they normally work in front. Dental receptionists typically will work during normal business hours, Monday-Friday, with occasional weekend work. This can be a stressful position, as there is a lot of repetition, multi-tasking, and communication required to do the job.
Salary and Benefits
As of 2008, the federal government’s employee statistics calculate the median salary of a dental receptionist to be $13.89 per hour, or about $29,000 per year for a 40-hour work week. Benefits will vary from office to office, but it is not uncommon for dental receptionists to receive a full benefits package from health insurance to paid time off.
Where to Go for More Information
American Association of Medical Assistants
20 N. Wacker Dr., Ste. 1575
Chicago, IL 60606
The National Association of Professional Receptionists
P.O. Box 104
College Park, Maryland 20741
Toll Free (877) 709-5051
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210