Allied dental health educators prepare students to become dental hygienists, dental assistants and/or dental laboratory technicians. There is an urgent increasing need for allied dental educators because of the growing demand for qualified allied dental professionals as well as growth in the number of these academic programs.
Allied dental educators must be at the forefront of oral health practice, science and technology. Dental science and technology are constantly advancing, so educators must stay informed about new techniques, equipment and evidence-based research so they can prepare their students adequately for the workplace.
In addition to classroom teaching, allied dental educators may supervise students in a laboratory, clinical or community setting. They serve as mentors and role models to students in providing quality oral health care to a variety of patients.
Some educators also help publishers develop new textbooks and other teaching materials, write or evaluate patient education materials, serve on academic committees devoted to improving the allied dental curriculum, consult with manufacturers about the design of dental instruments and equipment and provide dental educators and practitioners with continuing education programs intended to enhance teaching or practice skills and to introduce new techniques or science-based information.
Some allied dental educators choose to work as oral health educators, developing educational programs to improve oral health among patients in community health settings, including children, elderly, disabled and other underserved populations.
Allied dental educators usually work as full- or part-time faculty at vocational schools, colleges and universities, academic health centers and dental schools that offer certificates or degrees in dental hygiene, dental assisting and/or dental laboratory technology. All educators are prepared as allied dental professionals and may continue to practice in addition to teaching.
Becoming an allied dental educator is one way for experienced dental hygienists, dental assistants and dental laboratory technologists to give back to their professional community. Mentoring students in mastering new skills can be highly rewarding and provides a new way to share skills polished over the course of a career.
Academics also have many opportunities to work actively with committees and professional organizations shaping the future of the allied dental professions. There are opportunities to travel to meetings, speak, conduct and present research and write for scholarly journals.
Salary Range and Outlook
Allied dental educators are in demand because more teachers are needed to prepare the tens of thousands of allied dental workers that will be needed to fill vacant jobs in the years ahead.
Teaching salaries vary depending on the institution, the level of experience, level of education and other factors. A full-time allied dental educator teaching in a community college can earn between $41,000 and $62,000 a year.
In addition to salary, full-time educators generally receive other benefits such as sick leave, vacation time, retirement plans, health insurance and tuition benefits for their family.
Allied dental educators must have experience as allied dental professionals before becoming educators. In addition, at the very least, they must have a bachelor’s degree. Full-time positions in dental hygiene programs generally require a graduate or doctoral degree.
In addition to those requirements, they must satisfy continuing education requirements to keep their professional certification or licensure up to date.