Become a Dental Office Manager

The path to dental office management

There are many career pathways to working in dental office management. Some dental office managers come from a business or customer-service background, while others have experience in dentistry. Dental assistants often make excellent dental office managers because they understand the inner workings of the office and can juggle a variety of clinical and administrative tasks. Could this be your next career move?

Dental office manager skills

Dental office managers need to have a good working knowledge of dental terminology, accounts receivable, financial reporting, procedure codes, billing, and human-resource (HR) activities such as hiring, training and evaluating performance. Preferably, you’ll have experience with working in a dental practice, while some office hiring managers look for administrative, sales, or retail-management experience.

You need to be extremely organized, and you must enjoy making the office run smoothly through policies, schedules and systems that you’ve created. Being a people person is critical because you’ll be working closely with a variety of staff members and patients daily. One moment, you’ll be discussing treatment plans with a patient. The next, you’ll be talking to vendors and insurance companies. If you’re good at building rapport with people, you’ll be a good dental office manager.

Other essential qualities include being a problem solver and thinking on your feet. From accommodating a last-minute patient to mediating conflicts among staff, you’ll need to be ready to tackle unexpected issues creatively, calmly and professionally.

Dental office manager job description

Dental office managers serve as leaders in the practice. You might also hear them described as dental receptionists, administrative managers, practice managers, and other job titles. Their wide-ranging duties may include scheduling, responding to customer-service issues, verifying insurances, presenting and explaining treatment plans, collecting payment, budgeting and financial reporting, recruiting and training staff, and other patient and staff communications. The duties of the dental office manager may be broader or more specialized, depending on the size and type of practice.

Dental office manager salary

The dental office manager salary can vary, depending on your responsibilities, experience and skills. Pay for office and administrative support roles, such as being a dental receptionist, or a billing, bookkeeping or payroll specialist, can range from $18 to $23 per hour. If your position focuses on human resources or training, you might earn around $25 per hour. Pay for more senior positions like operations manager, financial manager and regional manager can range from $30 to $40 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dental office manager training

A high school diploma (or equivalent) is essential, while a bachelor’s degree in business may be preferred. You should have good computer skills and be comfortable working with Microsoft Office, HR and payroll tools, and dental practice-management software. Joining the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) also can be a good move to connect with other office-management professionals and learning resources.

How we can help

We worked with AADOM to create three popular online courses for dental office managers, exploring topics from office finance to HR practices. Designed to make you a better manager, these self-paced courses also count toward earning AADOM Fellowship.

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