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How Do I Become a Dental Office Manager?

Research what it takes to become a dental office manager. Learn about job outlook, salary and training requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is a Dental Office Manager?

A dental office manager is responsible for ensuring smooth operations and office upkeep in a dental health facility. In addition to hiring staff and scheduling employee hours, they supervise and assist secretarial workers as they schedule patient appointments, provide customer service and handle insurance and billing. Dental office managers also have financial duties related to budgeting, payroll and tax preparation.

Most managers working in a dental office have postsecondary training in the field. More details about this field are found below. Please note that since some career data isn't available specifically for dental office managers, the job outlook listed in the table below is for administrative service managers, which includes office managers.

Training Required Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Dental office management
Key Skills Interpersonal, decision-making, leadership, organization
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% (for all administrative service managers)*
Median Salary (2019) $50,339** (for dental office managers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Education Do I Need to Be a Dental Office Manager?

Dental office managers perform tasks related to managing staff and business operations. You can expect to work with patients, maintain office equipment and supplies, collect payments, bill insurance companies and administer the practice's accounting tasks. Dental office management requires solid customer service, leadership and communication skills.

Community and technical colleges offer associate's degree and certificate programs in dental office management that can be completed in two years or less. While an associate's degree program will include up to 60 credits of general education courses, such as math, science and English, a certificate program consists of only dental office management courses. Some potential courses you could take include dental records, finance management, business writing and computer applications. Some programs will include a practicum in which you could gain experience working in a dental office.

Participate in a Professional Development Programs

Professional development programs offer the additional knowledge required to further develop your dental office management skills. The Dale Foundation for Dental Assistants, which is affiliated with the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), offers continuing education courses for dental assistants and dental office managers, including courses in human resources and accounts receivable. After you gain a few years of experience, you might consider the office manager fellowship program offered by the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM). Completion of the program leads to the Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Managers designation.

Search For Dental Office Positions

Work with your school's career placement office to arrange an internship or locate entry-level opportunities. Don't limit your search to dental office management positions. You could also search for general office management jobs, which will help build your skills and provide valuable experience.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Health service managers can find jobs in a wide range of settings, not just dental offices. For instance, you could choose to manage a doctor's office, physical therapy clinic or nursing home. Within a large institution like a hospital, you could be in charge of a specific department, like surgery, pediatrics or cardiology. Outside of the medical field, you might be interested in getting a job as a community service organization manager. In that job, you would have similar supervisory duties as health service managers, but you would also direct the organization in a way that ensures community development goals are met. It is important to note that all of these managerial jobs require a bachelor's degree, and preference is often given to candidates with experience in the field.