Job Growth Could Mean Golden Opportunities for You

By: Cathy Warschaw

When you were a child, did you dream that you would spend your days looking into someone's mouth? Did you chase your friends around with picks and mirrors trying to inspect their teeth while everyone else was singing into a hairbrush dreaming of becoming the next Whitney Houston or Elton John?

Most children (unless they have a parent who is in the dental field) hate going to the dentist; and very few ever dream of working in a dental office when they grow up. However, dental hygienists, dental office managers and dental assistants are in huge demand in the United States even though they don't usually rate at the top of the list for dream jobs. And, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, these positions will grow at a faster-than-average rate because fewer people are entering these professions.

If you are hoping to capitalize on these opportunities and to advance your career, then be sure to:

*Check out the qualifications in your state. Qualifications for dental hygienists differ from state to state and most programs require two years of course work. Find out what applies in your area and map out a plan to complete what is required.

*Pursue a Bachelor's or Master's level program both of which are available in the field of dental hygiene. Advanced degrees will help your resume rise to the top of the pile and ensure you have a solid foundation for a host of career choices.

*Take continuing education courses to stay abreast of the latest technology and customer service techniques. Few fields are changing as quickly as dentistry, so don't let yourself get left behind simply because technology is evolving.

*Follow the latest trends. Right now, there is tremendous growth in the area of the dental spa. The goal of these modern dental offices is to help the patient be more comfortable and take their mind off the procedures they are having done. Many dental spas specialize in cosmetic dentistry rather than in traditional cleanings and offer these services alongside massage, tanning, and beauty services. While you don't need to learn massage or cosmetology to work in one of these specialized offices, you should investigate the trends and see how they affect the dental industry. Consider taking some courses or training in office management and marketing. Become proficient in the types of customer care that spas hope to deliver. If you follow the trends, you'll always find new growth and job opportunities.

*Excel at your work. If you are looking to advance your career, don't overlook the one area that can help you the most: your current job. Do it well enough to get noticed and you'll climb the ladder of opportunity again and again. And always take great care to avoid the types of mistakes that can lead to career suicide: lateness, unprofessionalism, bad attitude and poor performance.

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