Health Technicians

This section is excerpted from chapter five of Health Care Job Explosion and features health care technicians. The major occupational groups are:

The first specialty is excerpted along with a sampling of resources from the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!. The remaining occupations are featured in the same format as presented for dental hygienists in the text version of Health Care Job Explosion! Occupational groups are divided into primary and related occupations so that individuals can investigate other fields for additional job opportunities.

The following other technicians are grouped with the related technologist occupations in Chapter 4: Cardiovascular Technicians, Clinical Laboratory Technicians and Radiologic Technicians. Health Information Technicians are grouped with Medical Records Technicians in Chapter 10.

Health Care Job Explosion features over 1,400 career exploration and job vacancy resources. Resources are grouped with each occupation and a sample of related resources are included with the first occupation.


Interview With A Optician

Stacey Langston PhotoStacey Langston has been an optician for more than 13 years. At first he worked fitting conventional glasses, but now most of his work is fitting and pre-testing high-tech eye-wear devices for patients who are visually impaired or legally blind.

An ABO-certified optician currently working for Envision, Stacey did much of his training on his own, combined with on-the-job training in Wichita, Kansas. He says that some states require certification, but even if it is not required, it is probably an advantage in finding a job in the field. He says employers are looking for experienced workers and for workers they know will be in the career for a number of years. Stacey believes certification shows an employer you are serious about the career. He has noticed that more men are getting into the field now.

"One disadvantage of the career is that you hit the promotion ceiling pretty quickly," Stacey said, but added, "Employers pay more for additional experience." He also thinks they pay more for certified workers. Another factor that can increase your salary is advanced technical skills. Stacey sees a growing need for opticians who are skilled in devices such as bioptics and prisms. A bioptic is a type of telescope that can be mounted in a lens. It is used for people who have conditions such as pinhole vision or limited peripheral vision or macular degeneration. Prisms mainly help people who have blind spots in central vision. They redirect vision to a more healthy area of the retina.

He says that society is much more aware of low vision problems and macular degeneration, now that the population is aging. "The prescriptions we are getting now are very different than the glasses we fit in the past." Not every company makes and fits the high tech glasses though. Stacey says, "It’s pretty exciting to build something for someone – to completely customize eyewear" to fit special needs.

One of the favorite aspects of his career is working with people. "People rely on you to know all the latest products and need you on several different levels. You need to talk to them, to listen to them, so you know what they need and expect."

He says you need to consider your work a career, rather than a job for just a few months or years. "Maybe you can do the job in four or five months, the basics anyway, but you are not a good optician until you have done this work a few years." Stacey adds, "You really need to know the products and what a patient needs."

Stacey says he learns something everyday because every person he helps is an individual. "Like most jobs, it is what you put into it. You need to enjoy people. That’s what keeps me happy."

Note: A complete description of this career choice with resources is available in chapter five of the new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion.




  • Dental Assistants
  • Medical Assistants
  • Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Office Nurses
  • Ophthalmic Medical Assistants
  • Physician Assistants
  • Pediatric Assistants
  • Physical Therapy Assistants

The dental hygienist has a variety of career options. Employment for these varied career options can include the following:


Community Health Military Bases
Correctional Facilities Professional Associations
Dental Hygiene Private Practice
Dental School Programs Insurance Companies
Dental Supply Companies School Systems
Foreign Countries Universities
Forensics U.S. Public Health
Government Agencies Veterinary Dentistry
Hospitals HMOs




Significant Points

  • Most dental hygiene programs grant an associate degree; others offer a certificate, a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree.
  • Dental hygienists may rank among the fastest growing occupations.
  • Job prospects are expected to remain excellent.
  • More than half work part time, and flexible scheduling is a distinctive feature of this job.
Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Nature of Work


Dental hygienists remove soft and hard deposits from teeth, teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene, and provide other preventive dental care. Hygienists examine patients’ teeth and gums, recording the presence of diseases or abnormalities. They remove calculus, stains, and plaque from teeth; perform root planning as a periodontal therapy; take and develop dental x-rays; and apply cavity-preventive agents such as fluorides and pit and fissure sealants. In some states, hygienists administer anesthetics; place and carve filling materials, temporary fillings, and periodontal dressings; remove sutures; and smooth and polish metal restorations. Although hygienists may not diagnose diseases, they can prepare clinical and laboratory diagnostic tests for the dentist to interpret. Hygienists sometimes work chairside with the dentist during treatment.

Dental hygienists also help patients develop and maintain good oral health. For example, they may explain the relationship between diet and oral health or inform patients how to select toothbrushes and show them how to brush and floss their teeth.

Dental hygienists use hand and rotary instruments and ultrasonics to clean and polish teeth, x-ray machines to take dental pictures, syringes with needles to administer local anesthetics, and models of teeth to explain oral hygiene.


Working Conditions

Flexible scheduling is a distinctive feature of this job. Full-time, part-time, evening, and weekend schedules are widely available. Dentists frequently hire hygienists to work only 2 or 3 days a week, so hygienists may hold jobs in more than one dental office.

Dental hygienists work in clean, well-lighted offices. Important health safeguards include strict adherence to proper radiological procedures and the use of appropriate protective devices when administering anesthetic gas. Dental hygienists also wear safety glasses, surgical masks, and gloves to protect themselves and patients from infectious diseases.



Dental hygienists held about 158,000 jobs in 2004. Because multiple job-holding is common in this field, the number of jobs exceeds the number of hygienists. More than half of all dental hygienists worked part time—less than 35 hours a week. Almost all jobs for dental hygienists were in offices of dentists. A very small number worked for employment services or in offices of physicians.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Scholarships / Tuition Help

Dental hygienists must be licensed by the state in which they practice. To qualify for licensure in nearly all states, a candidate must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene school and pass both a written and clinical examination. The American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations administers the written examination, which is accepted by all states and the District of Columbia. State or regional testing agencies administer the clinical examination. In addition, most states require an examination on the legal aspects of dental hygiene practice. Alabama allows candidates to take its examinations if they have been trained through a state-regulated on-the-job program in a dentist’s office.

In 2004, the Commission on Dental Accreditation accredited 266 programs in dental hygiene. Most dental hygiene programs grant an associate degree, although some also offer a certificate, a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree. A minimum of an associate degree or certificate in dental hygiene is generally required for practice in a private dental office. A bachelor’s or master’s degree usually is required for research, teaching, or clinical practice in public or school health programs.


A high school diploma and college entrance test scores are usually required for admission to a dental hygiene program. Also, some dental hygiene programs prefer applicants who have completed at least 1 year of college. Requirements vary from one school to another. Schools offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, pharmacology, nutrition, radiography, histology (the study of tissue structure), periodontology (the study of gum diseases), pathology, dental materials, clinical dental hygiene, and social and behavioral sciences.

Dental hygienists should work well with others and must have good manual dexterity, because they use dental instruments within a patient’s mouth, with little room for error. High school students interested in becoming a dental hygienist should take courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp

Job Outlook

Employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through 2014, ranking among the fastest growing occupations, in response to increasing demand for dental care and the greater utilization of hygienists to perform services previously performed by dentists. Job prospects are expected to remain excellent.

Population growth and greater retention of natural teeth will stimulate demand for dental hygienists. Older dentists, who have been less likely to employ dental hygienists, are leaving the occupation and will be replaced by recent graduates, who are more likely to employ one or even two hygienists. In addition, as dentists’ workloads increase, they are expected to hire more hygienists to perform preventive dental care, such as cleaning

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Median hourly earnings of dental hygienists were $28.05 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $22.72 and $33.82 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18.05, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $40.70 an hour.

Earnings vary by geographic location, employment setting, and years of experience. Dental hygienists may be paid on an hourly, daily, salary, or commission basis.

Benefits vary substantially by practice setting and may be contingent upon full-time employment. Dental hygienists who work for school systems, public health agencies, the federal government, or state agencies usually have substantial benefits.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


New Technology

A computerized instrument, the Florida probe, measures recession, pocket depth, mobility, and furcation involvement. This device stores the information and provides a detailed print to show the patient.

Lasers are fast becoming the dentists tool of choice for several applications including light-curing sealants. The argon laser also softens subgingival calculus and is used in scaling and root planning steps.

Computer imaging intraoral camera systems are now being used to better evaluate patients. This system enlarges problem areas and graphically provides the patients with visible evidence of their condition. The vast increase in available data is improving communication between doctor and patient.

Another fascinating technological development is electronic dental anesthesia (EDA). This new development administers electronic impulses that blocks the pain normally associated with dental work. The patient feels a buzzing sensation instead of discomfort.


Resources (Partial Listing)

There are 121 total resources presented in the paperback version of Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for this occupational group. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, Placement services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only).


American Academy of Dental Group Practice (AADGP) - 2525 E. Arizona Biltmore Circle, Suite 127 , Phoenix, AZ 85016; 602/381-1185. http://www.aadgp.org, info@aadgp.org Members comprised of dentists and dental group practices. Publishes membership directory, $50 to nonmembers.

American Dental Association (ADA) - 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; 312/440-2500. http://www.ada.org  The web page http://www.ada.org/public/education/index.asp lists career mentoring resources from 20 area dental associations for students K-16 and brochures for all dental related jobs. Inquiries about this program can be sent to skoogb@ada.org. American Dental Directory lists over 141,000 dentists. Web site lists dental associations by state and has excellent links to dental organizations (including the Commission on Dental Accreditation) and to Internet search engines.

American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) - 444 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 3400, Chicago, Illinois 60611; 312/440-8900. http://www.adha.org, mail@adha.net  Student membership, $45 includes student liability insurance and two journals. Web site has information on job hunting and links to placement services and schools.


Dental Related Internet Resources - List of dental educational institutions, and information about specific dental issues. Their URL is http://www.dental-resources.com.

Exploring Careers in Dentistry by Jessica A. Rickert. $25.25. Published by The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 29 East 21st St., New York, NY, 10010; 800/237-9932, Available through used book sellers.

National Board for Certification in Dental Technology (NBC), 325 John Knox Road #L103, Tallahassee, Florida 32303; 800/684-5310. http://www.nbccert.org, adrienne@nbccert.org  Contact for information on requirements for certification.

Resume Writing Service -  Professionally package your health care resume for entry level, standard, and executive positions.


Scholarships / Tuition Help




Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They work chair side as dentists examine and treat patients. They make patients as comfortable as possible in the dental chair, prepare them for treatment, and obtain their dental records. Assistants hand instruments and materials to dentists and keep patients’ mouths dry and clear by using suction or other devices. Assistants also sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare trays of instruments for dental procedures, and instruct patients on post-operative and general oral health care. Those with laboratory duties make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and make temporary crowns. Dental assistants with office duties schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills, receive payments, and order dental supplies and materials.

Job prospects should be excellent. Dentists are expected to hire more assistants to perform routine tasks so that they may devote their own time to more complex procedures. Most assistants learn their skills on the job, although an increasing number are trained in dental-assisting programs offered by community and junior colleges, trade schools, technical institutes, or the Armed Forces. Assistants must be a second pair of hands for a dentist; therefore, dentists look for people who are reliable, work well with others, and have good manual dexterity. Most states regulate the duties that dental assistants are allowed to perform through licensure or registration. Licensure or registration may require passing a written or practical examination.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp

Certification is available through DANB and is recognized or required in more than 30 states. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics median hourly earnings of dental assistants were $16.42 in May 2011. More information on this profession can be found at Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Dental Assistants, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos163.htm.


Resources (Partial Listing)


Additional Dental Assistant job resources are presented in the paperback version of Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for this occupational group. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, Placement services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only). Also available at all major bookstores. Also explore jobs at VA hospitals and other federal government employment options.


American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) - 35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1730, Chicago, IL 60601-2211; 312/541-1550. (http://dentalassistant.org , adaa1@aol.com) Student membership is $25. Web site has career information and links to state associations. Partner site http://www.dentalworkers.com/ has extensive online posting of job ads and résumés. (Site is being updated; there may be a fee.)


Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) - 676 North Saint Clair St., Suite 1880, Chicago, IL 60611; 312/642-3368 or 800/FOR-DANB. (http://www.danb.org/) Contact for information on becoming a Certified Dental Assistant and a list of state boards of dentistry and information on DAMB exams.