Dental Office Admin FAQ: Everything You Need to Know

Calgary Dental Office Administration FAQ

What does a Dental Office Administrator do?

Dental office admin workers are responsible for a number of things. In general, dental administrator duties will vary depending on their environments, though there are a few common responsibilities for most practices. These include the following:
  • Staff and patient scheduling: Most dental administrators are responsible for dealing with everything related to scheduling, including scheduling patient appointments with the dentist and keeping the office rotation of staff in order. The very important aspect of administration makes it easier for practices to operate quickly and efficiently on a regular basis. If a dental administrator can establish a system that is well-managed, then both patients and staff will be happy with shorter wait periods and more positive experiences.

  • Payroll management: Dental administrators are usually in charge of tasks associated with payroll for the practice’s staff. This involves calculating staff wages and issuing payroll checks. Administrators will also have to handle issues that relate to benefits, paid time off, sick days, etc.

  • Customer service: Dental office administrators work behind the scenes and in front of customers alike. They are the face of the office and are responsible for resolving any issues that may occur for both patients and staff.

  • Patient charting: In the medical field, administrators will often have to update and prepare patient charts. For the dental administrator, this involves preparing patient charts for the practicing dentist in the facility through custom dental software. Administrators are responsible for entering in patient information, filing the necessary paperwork, and handling any requests for record copies. An administrator will also be responsible for organizing charts to ensure their completion.

  • Staff supervision: In addition to scheduling, a dental administrator will also ensure that the staff is properly trained and guided when it comes to office operations. A good administrator will be calm and positive, someone who is able to build good working relationships.

  • Bookkeeping and budgeting. These two things are common tasks for dental administrators. They are responsible for most things involved in office management, as well as department budgeting. A dental administrator will be responsible for paying vendors, placing orders for supplies, inventory tracking, credit resolution, disputes, and more. Typically, a good dental administrator will also have good communication skills in order to speak with staff about financial problems effectively.

  • Medical billing: Because dental administrators work in the medical field, they are also responsible for medical billing. This involves communicating and working with health insurance companies to ensure that a patient’s medical bills are paid. This is a pretty substantial role and one of the most common roles found in the dental administrator profession. These professionals will review things like policies, claims, disputes, co-pays, etc.

How much does a Dental Office Administrator make?

This varies quite a bit. The biggest factors that determine how much a dental office administrator involve location, education, experience, and the quality of the dental practice that is hiring.

On average, the hourly rate for a dental office administrator is between $14 and $29. Annual bonuses for dental office administrator will range from about $715 to $8,000. Total pay for dental office administrator is somewhere between $30,000 and $64,000.

How do I become a Dental Office Administrator?

The dental office administration profession involves some schooling, even though administrators are not directly involved in medical procedures or treating patients. Rather, a dental office administrator is responsible for the efficiency and happiness of employees and staff, in order to provide the best possible dental care services.

Dental office administrators can work in places like hospitals, dental practices, dental offices, insurance companies, medical groups, and more.

In order to become a dental office administrator, potential candidates will need to have a high school diploma for entry-level dental office positions. Just as well, aspiring administrators can also obtain a certificate from one-year programs in dental office administration, as well as other healthcare or medical fields, from a local community college or trade school. Those studying to be dental office administrators can also benefit from gaining experience via on-the-job coaching and training.

Students studying for this profession will learn a wide range of skills, including dental terminology, proper office procedures and processes, medical charting, data entry, insurance handling, fiscal management, finances and accounting, and a variety of different digital applications.

Once educated and licensed, a dental office administrator will also need to have a good, strong skill set. Some common skills that employers will look for in a dental office administrator include:

  • Interpersonal communication abilities
  • Team-building
  • Ability to use the typical range of office technology, including various operating systems, dental software, Word, Excel, and other data processing applications
  • Strong decision-making abilities
  • Customer service
  • Multi-tasking
  • Crititca thinking skills
  • Billing
  • Emergency protocols and processes
  • Experience with special needs patients
  • Patient chart processes
  • Time management
  • Administrative skills

Some employers may require additional skills other than the ones mentioned above.

The job outlook for dental office administrators is quite promising. The  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that job opportunities for this field will likely rise 10% by 2022.

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