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The Dental Field's Disobedience Towards Unemployment Rates

Updated on April 7, 2014

Advantages in the Dental Field

  • High growth rate (dentist growth rate is at 16%, dental hygienists growth rate is 33.3%, and dental assistants are at 31%)
  • Stable job market in the healthcare field
  • Friendly and positive work environment
  • Small dental staff for better communication and interaction
  • Numerous job benefits such as 5 day work week, no nights, no weekends, paid vacation, 401K, and a lot of other advantages
  • High demand in populated spaces, such as cities and metropolitan areas
  • Work that genuinely helps others
  • Has been consistently outperforming most other fields
  • Salary is often above average

Dental Jobs

There are a variety of dental jobs, and all of them have low unemployment rates and each its own unique benefits. But before we delve into the statistics let's take a look at what each job is really about.

  • Dental assistants: You can guess by the name that dental assistants help assist the other staff around the dental office. Tasks can include scheduling patients, helping them feel comfortable, office management, chair-side duties alongside the dentist, preparing and sterilizing dental equipment, and other tasks that help the office run more efficiently. You will often meet the dental assistant before you enter for treatment and they are the hidden hands behind the dental office that keeps everything running smooth as a whistle. Even though most dental assistants don't get a whole lot of respect, their jobs are extremely important to the office and without them it would take forever just for patients to receive treatment. They deserve a lot more attention than they currently do.
  • Dental hygienists: Dental hygienists are the second highest position in the dental office, and is in charge of things like patient screening procedures, taking and developing x-rays, removing calculus and plaque, applying sealants and fluorides, making impressions of patient's teeth, office management tasks, and helping patients with good oral hygiene and providing other tips. Not to be confused with the dentists, a hygienist is a separate occupation with different tasks. You will often encounter the dental hygienist before the dentist, and they help with teeth cleaning the most and other patient care.
  • Dentists: Dentists are the most respectable and highest paid position in the office, and that's because their work is pretty difficult. Think of the dentist as the doctor of the office, and their role is to diagnose and treat problems that patients have. Dentists are the most knowledgeable when it comes to oral health, and can identify problems with teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth. That's why they chose to go to dental school, so that they can learn all about the mouth and how to prevent diseases from occurring. Diseases in the mouth are not something to take lightly, which is why dentists are so highly sought after for diagnosis, preventative care, and treatment procedures.

Dental assistants

Dental Hygienist


Keeping those pearly whites glowing
Keeping those pearly whites glowing

Unemployment rates in the dental field

The topic of this hub is the low unemployment rates the dental field faces, so of course we will be reviewing that so you can get your money's worth. The dental field has been consistently outperforming most other jobs on the market right now, and the highest unemployment rate for any particular dental job is 4.1 percent, which is the current rate for dental assistants. Let's taker a deeper look.

  • Dental assistant unemployment rate: Dental assistants don't require formal training, with most assistants only having just a high school diploma and on-the-job training, but the unemployment rate for them is still low compared to the national average for college graduates. While recent graduates are suffering at a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, dental assistants are facing a rate of 4.1 percent. That's a pretty big difference because most dental assistants have no college experience whatsoever and yet there are more employed than recent college graduates! In 2012 there were more that 300,000 dental assistants which is expected to grow by 74,000 by 2022.
  • Dental hygienist unemployment rate: Now onto the dental hygienist. The unemployment rate for them are at a low 2.8 percent, which is quite surprising because hygienists don't require an extra four years of dental school after college like dentists do. That's right, most hygienists have an associate's degree, and what's awesome is that the average salary is higher than the average salary for most college graduates. Whereas the average salary for college graduates was $42,666 in 2012, the average salary for hygienists was $70,700 in the same year. That's a difference of almost $30,000! The number of jobs in 2012 was 181,000, and is expected to increase by as much as 68,500 by 2022. Dental hygienists are rated the 7th best healthcare job and the 10th best job overall.
  • Dentist unemployment rate: Dentists have the lowest unemployment rates of all the jobs in the dental office at an astounding rate of 1.5%! That's huge compared to the overall unemployment rates of college graduates, which is at 7.9%. The role of a dentist is even suggested to be among the top 5 jobs in America, and the best job in the healthcare field! With a total of 146,800 jobs in 2012 and an expected increase of 23,300 jobs between 2012-2022, it's no wonder this particular field is doing so well.

What's your opinion?

Which job do you think has the biggest room for growth right now?

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Is college worth it?
Is college worth it?

Unemployment rates of other occupations

Well you might be wondering, what are the unemployment rates for various other fields? You know what they are like for dental assistants, hygienists, and dentists, but how do they stack up against other jobs?

Well, the overall unemployment rates for non-college graduates is 9-10 percent, which is pretty brutal and not likely to lower anytime soon. Compare that to college graduates 25 years or older the unemployment rate is around 4.6-4.7 percent. That's even higher than dental assistants as we have discussed, who only face a rate of 4.1 percent and don't require any formal training. So regarding job prospects the dental field is looking very attractive right now.

And what about recent graduates? Most recent graduates have a bachelor's degree, but it is an especially hard time if you're fresh out of school. It is estimated that the the risk of unemployment can range anywhere from a low of 4.8 percent to a high of 14.7 percent depending on what type of major. But that's not even the scary part. What's even more terrifying is that an estimated 53% of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. That means either you don't have a job or you are employed in a field not directly related to your major. Talk about hard times! It's scary to think that a college education in a particular field might not even help you get a job in that field!

To visualize the rates, you can refer to the table below for the statistics of popular majors.

Popular Majors Unemployment Rates

What's your opinion?

Do you think a college education is worth it?

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I'm not trying to suggest that the dental field is for you, but the purpose of this is just to illustrate how dental jobs are outperforming most other jobs right now. Whereas a lot of young people are struggling to find good jobs right, the dental field looks like it is surviving this recession unscathed with surprising results. There is probably a number of reasons why this is happening, and my best guess is the recent push for Obamacare. As more and more people are required to have health insurance in the US, the demand for healthcare related jobs are rising to meet the demand. Help is needed now more than ever before and while other jobs in the healthcare field have low unemployment rates and great advantages also, the dental field seems to be at the top of its game.


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