Jobs are expected to be plentiful in the coming years for dental assistants. Across, the country, from New York to California, employment is expected to grow "much faster than expected" according to the 2008-2009 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Government. In fact, according to their projections the growth is expected to be twenty-nine percent! That means if things keep going the way they are now, there will be more dental assistant jobs than qualified applicants.
All of this adds up to a great time to be a dental assistant. Jobs are available in all manner of environments, including private practices and group clinics. Both part time and full time positions are available just about everywhere. All told. there were about 280,000 dental assistant positions held in 2006.
In order to qualify for a dental assisting job, more and more offices are requiring applicants to have formal training. These are often offered by junior colleges, technical schools, trade colleges, or community education facilities. The programs generally last between ten months and one year, and are usually quite affordable, especially when considering your starting salary. Usually the completion of the program results in a certificate, although two year associate degrees are also available.
The training program should be approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which is part of the American Dental Association. All of these programs require a high school diploma or GED. Please don't be scammed by the four and six month non-accredited courses; these are scams and while you might get hired after completing one, you will be much better prepared with a legitimate program. All coursework will also need to be followed up by a period of on-the-job training.