Becoming an office manager can be an appealing career path for entry-level dental staff. Typically requiring little more than a high school diploma, office managers are often viewed as the leaders of a dental practice, responsible for running the day-to-day.
It can also be a significant bump in pay as dental office managers make an average of $49,000 annual and as much as $67,000 compared to an average of $31,000 for dental assistants. Positions similar in duties to office managers, such as practice administrators, make an average of $60,000 annually and as much as $88,000.
If you’re interested in becoming an office manager, there are multiple viable paths for you to accomplish this goal. Here are just a few ways that you can work towards a new career.
While most practices won’t require any post-secondary education, having some college education will better your chances of being hired. Office managers are responsible for an assortment of administrative duties including data entry, writing on behalf of the practice, and hiring staff. You can demonstrate these skills through coursework you’ve taken at the college level.
If you’ve just graduated high school or at a point in your career where you can go to college, getting an Associate’s or Bachelor’s in Health Administration will provide the relevant coursework. If you’re unable to go to school full-time, your local college may offer Health Administration programs online.
The downside to pursuing a degree program is that it will typically take a minimum of two years to complete and may not fit within your schedule if you’re currently working. One viable alternative is pursuing a certificate program.
Certificate programs are significantly shorter than full degrees and often take a more nuts and bolts approach to delivering information. Many state colleges that offer Health or Business Administration degrees will also offer abbreviated certificate programs.
Holding a certificate won’t carry the same weight as completing a Bachelor’s program but it will demonstrate competency for specific administrative tasks. As another option, the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) also has online courses that you can complete.
While any formal education you receive will better your chances of being hired for an office manager role, shadowing an office manager can be an equally viable option if you’re already working for a dental practice. Your practice may only need a single office manager to run the day-to-day, but as it grows, there might be an opportunity for you to help with some of these responsibilities.
As your practice continues to grow, more responsibilities may come your way and lead to a full-time position as an office manager. If not, you now have the relevant work experience necessary to find an office manager’s position elsewhere.