Occupation Summary

Dental Assistants

O*NET 31-9091.00


Assist dentist, set up equipment, prepare patient for treatment, and keep records.

Annual Wages:
Employment Rate:
Employment is expected to increase by 22.01%.
Education Level:
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in Personnel Services, Engineering-related Technologies, Vocational Home Economics, Construction Trades, Mechanics and Repairers, Precision Production Trades). According to O*Net, the majority of people employed in this occupation have this level of education.
Public Service

  1. Prepare patient, sterilize or disinfect instruments, set up instrument trays, prepare materials, or assist dentist during dental procedures.
  2. Expose dental diagnostic x-rays.
  3. Record treatment information in patient records.
  4. Take and record medical and dental histories and vital signs of patients.
  5. Provide postoperative instructions prescribed by dentist.
  6. Assist dentist in management of medical or dental emergencies.
  7. Pour, trim, and polish study casts.
  8. Instruct patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs.
  9. Make preliminary impressions for study casts and occlusal registrations for mounting study casts.
  10. Clean and polish removable appliances.
  11. Clean teeth, using dental instruments.
  12. Apply protective coating of fluoride to teeth.
  13. Fabricate temporary restorations or custom impressions from preliminary impressions.
  14. Schedule appointments, prepare bills and receive payment for dental services, complete insurance forms, and maintain records, manually or using computer.
  15. Order and monitor dental supplies and equipment inventory.
  16. Fabricate and fit orthodontic appliances and materials for patients, such as retainers, wires, or bands.

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National Industry Employment Patterns

Industry % of Dental Assistants employed Annual Growth Rate
Offices of dentists 90.7 1.83
Offices of physicians 2 1.79

Labor Market Information

2018 Statewide average hourly wage $17.70
2018 National average hourly wage $19.12
2016 National employment 332,000
2016 Texas employment 28,418
Texas projected employment by 2026 34,673
Texas projected annual employment and Turnover openings through 2026 4,042

* Due to confidentiality rules, not all regions may have the data displayed. The sum of all the regions may not be equal to the state total.

Top 10 Relevant Knowledge Areas Relevant Importance Levels
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
English Language
Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Sales and Marketing
Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Top 10 Relevant Skill Areas Relevant Importance Levels
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Active Learning
Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Top 10 Relevant Abilities Relevant Importance Levels
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
    -- Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Getting Information
    -- Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
    -- Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
    -- Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
    -- Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Other Activities

  • Analyze dental data
  • Assist individuals with dressing, undressing, grooming, or bathing
  • Assist patients in performing breathing exercises
  • Assist patients in walking or exercising
  • Assist practitioners in examining, evaluating, or treating patients
  • Collect dental laboratory diagnostic data
  • Collect specimens from patients
  • Communicate health and safety information
  • Conduct dental x-rays
  • Develop photographic media such as film or x-rays
  • Dispense prescribed medications and pharmaceuticals
  • Educate patients in use of supportive or health-related devices
  • Encourage patients to participate in activities
  • Entertain patients in care
  • Explain testing procedures to patient
  • Feed food to individuals
  • Fit patients for prosthetic devices
  • Interpret x-ray images
  • Maintain dental or medical records
  • Maintain record of medication or equipment dispensed to patient
  • Monitor patient condition and health
  • Motivate patients to practice exercises
  • Observe patient or client condition
  • Operate computers to enter, calculate, access, and retrieve data
  • Operate dental equipment
  • Perform dental hygiene procedures
  • Perform dental treatments
  • Post medical insurance billings to account
  • Prepare billing statements
  • Prepare medical reports
  • Prepare medical treatment room
  • Prepare patients for tests, therapy, or treatments
  • Prepare technical or scientific reports
  • Process medical records
  • Provide clerical assistance to customers or patients
  • Provide customer service
  • Record medical history
  • Schedule meetings, activities, classes, or events
  • Set-up dental equipment
  • Set-up patient care equipment
  • Sterilize laboratory, medical, or veterinary equipment or instruments
  • Supervise subordinate personnel or contractors
  • Take messages, notes, shorthand, and dictation
  • Take vital signs
  • Weigh patients to update records

  • Relationships
    - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Support
    - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.


Air compressors: Air compressors;

Amalgam carriers: Amalgam carriers;

Bands for dental matrix: Matrix bands;

Chemical or gas sterilizers: Chemiclaves;

Combination furniture sets for dental procedures: Dental furniture units;

Cosmetic dentistry curing lights or accessories: High-intensity lights; Light curing units;

Dental amalgamators: Amalgamators;

Dental articulators or accessories: Articulators;

Dental bite blocks or wings or tabs: Bite blocks;

Dental burs: Burs;

Dental cutting or separating discs: Dental cutting instruments;

Dental dam supplies: Molar clamps; Rubber dam clamp forceps; Rubber dam punches; Rubber dams;

Dental depth gauges: Apex locators;

Dental elevators: Root elevators;

Dental examination chairs or related parts or accessories: Dental chairs;

Dental filler contouring instruments: Filling instruments;

Dental film processors: Dental x ray film processors;

Dental finishing or polishing discs: Prophylaxis angles;

Dental finishing or polishing kits: Denture, acrylic and porcelain polishing kits;

Dental forceps: Cotton forceps; Extracting forceps; Splinter forceps; Tongue forceps;

Dental formers: Vacuum formers;

Dental hand pieces or accessories: Slow-speed dental handpieces; Rotary handpieces; Dental handpieces; High-speed handpieces; Electric endodontic handpieces; Electric general dentistry handpieces; Electric surgical handpieces;

Dental hygiene instruments: Electronic calculus detectors;

Dental impression trays: Impression trays;

Dental instrument sharpening accessories: Instrument sharpening devices;

Dental laboratory air abrasion units: Air abrasion units;

Dental laboratory casting machines or its parts or accessories: Denture model presses;

Dental laboratory lathes or accessories: Bench lathes;

Dental laboratory model trimmers or accessories: Model trimmers;

Dental laboratory vacuum units or supplies: Computerized pressure/vacuum casting systems; Power vacuum mixers;

Dental lasers: Dental laser systems; Caries detection aids;

Dental matrices or sets: Posterior matrices;

Dental operatory retraction cords: Gingival retraction cords;

Dental probes: Double-ended probes; Dental explorers; Single-ended periodontal probes;

Dental pulp or vitality testers: Pulp testers;

Dental radiology film: Bitewing film holders;

Dental retainers: Dental retainers;

Dental saliva ejectors or oral suction devices or supplies: Saliva ejectors; Evacuator systems; High-velocity evacuators;

Dental scalers or accessories: Dental scalers;

Dental scissors: Crown scissors; Collar scissors;

Dental spatulas: Dental spatulas;

Dental syringe accessory kits: Needle holders;

Dental syringes or needles or syringes with needles: Needles; Aspirating syringes; Cartridge syringes;

Dental tooth separators: Orthodontic separators;

Dental tweezers: Dental tweezers;

Dental wedges or sets: Dental wedges;

Dental x ray apparatus parts or kits or accessories: X ray machine cones;

Dental x ray units: Dental x ray machines; Intraoral x ray equipment; Panoramic x ray equipment;

Dry heat or hot air sterilizers: Thermal disinfectors;

Electronic blood pressure units: Electronic blood pressure devices;

Electrosurgical or electrocautery equipment: Electrosurgery units;

Medical gas cylinders or related devices: Oxygen tanks;

Medical radiation dosimeters: Radiation dosimeters;

Medical radiological shielding aprons or masks or drapes: Protective shielding equipment; Thyroid collars; Lead aprons;

Mercury blood pressure units: Manual blood pressure cuffs;

Orthodontic appliance clasps: Headgear;

Orthodontic brackets: Orthodontic brackets;

Orthodontic pliers: Orthodontic pliers; Torqueing pliers; Straight utility pliers; Intraoral detailing pliers; Offset utility pliers; Band seating pliers; Dental pliers; Contouring orthodontic pliers; Dental crimping pliers;

Orthodontic setter bands: Orthodontic band pushers; Orthodontic band slitters;

Periodontal curettes: Gracey curettes; Universal curettes;

Personal computers: Personal computers;

Steam autoclaves or sterilizers: Steam cleaning equipment; Steam sterilizers; Sterilizers; Autoclaves;

Surgical clamps or clips or forceps or accessories: Hemostatic forceps;

Teeth cleaning devices or accessories: Air/water syringes;

Ultrasonic cleaning equipment: Ultrasonic sterilization units;


Accounting software: Intuit Quicken software;

Electronic mail software: Email software;

Internet browser software: Web browser software;

Medical software: Patterson Dental Supply Patterson EagleSoft; The Systems Workplace TDOCS; Henry Schein Dentrix software; Kodak Dental Systems Kodak SOFTDENT Practice management software PMS;

Office suite software: Microsoft Office software;

Spreadsheet software: Microsoft Excel;

Word processing software: Word processing software;

Related O*NET occupational titles for Dental Assistants include:
  • 29-2031.00 Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
  • 29-2021.00 Dental Hygienists
  • 31-9099.02 Endoscopy Technicians
  • 31-9092.00 Medical Assistants
  • 29-2099.01 Neurodiagnostic Technologists
  • 29-2033.00 Nuclear Medicine Technologists
  • 29-2034.00 Radiologic Technologists
  • 29-2054.00 Respiratory Therapy Technicians
  • 29-2055.00 Surgical Technologists
  • 29-2056.00 Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Sources of Additional Information
  • For more information about becoming a dental assistant and for a list of accredited dental assistant programs, visit: Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association
  • For more information about becoming a Certified Dental Assistant and for a list of state boards of dentistry, visit: Dental Assisting National Board, Inc.
  • Dental Assistants

  • Contact Texas Workforce Commission
    Labor Market and Career Information  |  101 E. 15th Street, Annex Room 0252  |  Austin, Texas 78778
    Official Website  |  1-800-822-PLAN (7526)  |  512.936.3200

    ** The information in this report may be derived from many sources like O*NET, BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), OOH (Occupational Outlook Handbook), and Career One Stop.