How Can I Become a Dental Receptionist?

Research what it takes to become a dental receptionist. Learn about education requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Office Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Dental Receptionist?

Dental receptionists perform clerical duties in the offices of dentists. For instance, they manage health-related documents, such as patient history and test reports. They also interact with patients in a dentist's office, scheduling future appointments and answering questions that patients may have about their visit. In addition, they handle patient billing and dental insurance reimbursement procedures. Review some of the valuable skills needed for this career field, along with other information as listed in the table below.

Education Required High school diploma; vocational programs available
Training Required Short-term on-the-job training
Key Skills Interpersonal, organization, customer service, communication
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10% (for all receptionists)*
Mean Salary (2015) $28,430 (for all receptionists and information clerks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Level of Education Do I Need to Be a Dental Receptionist?

Most positions will require that you hold a high school diploma or its equivalent and will train you after you're hired. Some employers will expect you to have some formal training. There are yearlong dental receptionist certificate programs available through community colleges and technical schools that would prepare you for entry-level work. In such a program, you would become familiar with laws and ethics, medical terms, administrative procedures and computer programs used in a dental office. An associate's degree program in dental assisting could also prepare you for work in this field and possible advancement to other positions.

What Duties Could I Have?

A dental receptionist is responsible for giving patients a positive experience within or prior to coming to a dental office. In this position, you would answer, screen and direct phone calls and provide information. As patients enter, you would check them in, process insurance information as well as collect new patient paperwork.

Many of your duties would be clerical in nature, such as:

  • Using computer programs
  • Mailing and faxing information
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Proofreading and transcribing
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Accepting and documenting payments

People who possess the skills to be dental receptionists may be needed in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that receptionist positions would increase by 10% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).

What Skills Do I Need?

Dental receptionists must be highly organized and possess excellent interpersonal skills that meet the needs of patients. You need to be an active listener who can communicate information accurately to patients and staff. You should also be familiar with computer programs, such as accounting and word processing software. Any experience you have using photocopiers, fax machines and filing systems would be helpful for managing records and other documents.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A closely related career option is a job as a medical secretary. Like dental receptionists, they perform administrative duties, like scheduling appointments, managing insurance claims and collecting basic medical history information. However, they may find work in settings like physician's offices, hospitals, nursing homes and specialized clinics. You could also consider becoming a secretary in a non-health-related industry, such as law. Legal secretaries have basic office duties, and they may also help with legal research and document preparation. For any secretary job, a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement, but a postsecondary certificate or degree program can boost your skills and job prospects.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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