DentistDentists diagnose and treat problems with their patients' teeth and mouth tissue. Those who want to become dentists must attend dental school, a four year endeavor. Most dental school applicants have a bachelor's degree, although a minimum of only two years of pre-dental education is required. After graduating from dental school, one must be licensed by the state in which he or she wants to practice. A written exam and a practical exam are required. The median annual salary for dentists was $142,090 and median hourly wages of $68.31 in 2009.
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Dental HygienistDental hygienists, generally working under the supervision of a dentist, provide patients with preventative dental care. To become a dental hygienist one must earn an associate degree from a dental hygiene school. State licensing, which is obtained after taking written and practical exams, is required of those who want to work as dental hygienists. Dental hygienists earned a median annual salary of $67,340 and median hourly wages of $32.38 in 2009.
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Dental AssistantDental assistants work alongside dentists, performing some patient care, but not the same tasks dental hygienists are licensed to perform. Dental assistants also perform laboratory and office duties. Dental assistants usually receive their training on-the-job, although some attend dental assisting programs offered by community and junior colleges, trade schools, technical institutes or the Armed Forces. Some states license or register dental assistants. Dental assistants earned a median salary of $33,230 and median hourly wages of $15.98 in 2009.
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Dental TechnicianDental technicians manufacture dental prosthetics based on dentists' specifications. They are also called dental laboratory technicians. Many dental technicians receive on-the-job training although many employers prefer to hire job candidates who have received formal training through community colleges, vocational-technical schools and the U.S. Armed Forces. Voluntary certification is offered by The National Board for Certification, an independent board established by the National Association of Dental Laboratories. Dental technicians earned a median annual salary of $34,820 and median hourly wages of $16.74 in 2009.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ and
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/ (visited February 14, 2011).
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|Comparing Careers in Dentistry|
|Dentist||Dental School (4 years)||Required in all states||$142,090/yr. or $68.31/hr.|
|Dental Hygienist||Associate Degree||Required in all states||$67,340/yr. or $32.38/hr.|
|Dental Assistant||HS Diploma and On-the-Job Training||Required in some states||$33,230/yr. or $15.98/hr.|
|Dental Technician||HS Diploma and On-the-Job Training or some formal training||Voluntary certification||$34,820/yr. or $16.74/hr.|