When you hear the terms ‘Dental Assistant and Medical Assistant, you might wonder if both these careers are similar, because they sound the same.

However, we’re here to tell you that these are two completely different and equally significant careers in healthcare.

In this article, we will unfold the difference between these two.

We’ll explore the job duties, education requirements, and salary prospects of dental assistants and medical assistants to help you decide your future in healthcare.

Read more: Dental Hygienist vs Dental Assistant
Where can a Dental Assistant work

medical assistant.

Medical Assistant vs. Dental Assistant Job Duties

Let’s start differentiating these two professions on various grounds.

Let’s find the differences in their roles and responsibilities:

Medical Assistants:

  • Medical assistants generally work in hospitals, clinics, and in physician’s offices. They have an important job to make sure everything runs smoothly in healthcare operations.
  • Their daily task includes entering patient dental history, getting patients ready for medical examination, and helping doctors while performing dental procedures.
  • Medical Assistants have the key responsibility to perform administrative tasks like scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records, and handling bills.
  • Medical assistants often interact with patients related to their queries and other stuff. So being good at how you talk to people is really important for this job.

Dental Assistants:

  • The major workplace for Dental assistants is the dental office where they support dentists and dental hygienists.
  • Their duties involve preparing patients for dental procedures, handing over the instruments to the dentist during the treatment, and sterilizing dental instruments.
  • Taking and developing dental X-rays, assisting in lab work, and educating patients on maintaining oral hygiene are also common tasks they perform.
  • Dental assistants often work closely with patients. They make patients feel better and help combat any anxiety or stress during and before the treatment.

Read more about:
How Long Does It Take To Become a Dental Assistant?

Pediatric Dental Assistant
Travel Dental Assistant

Medical Assistant vs. Dental Assistant: Education Requirements

There is a certain educational requirement for both professions.

Below we have explained what it takes to become a medical assistant and a dental assistant.

Medical Assistant:

  • The minimum education to become a medical assistant is a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • However, those who have completed any medical assistant program may be given more priority by the employers.
  • These medical assisting programs not only include clinical aspects but also cover administrative aspects as well. Wherein you learn about clinical and administrative tasks. Getting certified can help you find better jobs and earn more money.

Dental Assistant:

  • Becoming a dental assistant usually requires a diploma or a certificate program. The duration for the diploma program usually lasts around two years while for a certificate program, you can get it in just 12 months.
  • Further, some states may require you to get the license, and for that, you have to pass an exam that requires certain educational requirements.
  • Dental assistants can gain experience without any formal training or without going to school. This is different from medical assistants who usually need formal training.

 dental assistant.

Medical Assistant Salary:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for medical assistants in the United States was around $38,270.

However, salaries can range from $27,810 to $50,580 or more per year depending on factors such as experience, location, and the healthcare setting.

Dental Assistant Salary:

In 2022, the median annual wage for dental assistants was approximately  $44,820.

However, salaries could range from $28,860 to $56,930 or more annually based on experience, location, and the type of dental practice.


So, now you must have compared both professions on different parameters discussed above.

Choosing between being a medical assistant and a dental assistant means thinking about what you like, where you want to work, and how much school you’re willing to do.

Medical assistants do a wide range of things in healthcare and can work in different places. Dental assistants focus on dental care.

The job you pick should match what you enjoy doing and where you want to work. Both jobs help patients and are important in healthcare teams. The need for skilled medical and dental assistants is still high, so both careers are good choices if you want to work in healthcare.

Related Sources:
Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant
Dental Assistant Tools
Future of Dental Assisting
Dental Assistant Skills Resume
Surgical Dental Assistant
Chairside Dental Assistant
Dental Assistant Qualifications
Can a Dental Assistant Become a Dentist?
How much is dental assistant school
Entry-Level Dental Assistant
Registered Dental Assistant
Expanded Function Dental Assistant
Orthodontic Dental Assistant
Dental Assistant Certification
Dental Assistant License Guide
Dental Assistant Classes
Dental Assistant Certificate