Learn About Being a Dental Office Manager

Updated January 26, 2023

What does a dental office manager do?

A dental office manager is an administrative professional who manages the day-to-day operations of a dental practice. A dental office manager’s main responsibility is to ensure that the practice is running smoothly and efficiently by creating, establishing and managing internal office protocols and procedures. These professionals are also responsible for maintaining the dental clinic’s budget, general ledger and accounting systems. Some additional duties of a dental office manager may include:

  • Greeting and checking in patients

  • Hiring and training new office staff to respond to patient needs and to manage billing systems

  • Directing and supervising office receptionist and other support staff as they serve patients

  • Overseeing the processing of insurance and secondary insurance claims

  • Helping patients apply for credit and other financial assistance

  • Providing the dentist and other dental professionals with administrative and practical support when needed

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Average salary

Salaries for dental office managers are often determined by the candidate’s level of education, experience and skillset, as well as the position’s specific job responsibilities. Your geographic location can also impact your potential earnings.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $42,268 per year

  • Salaries range from $36,444 to $76,547 per year.

Dental office manager requirements

The necessary education and training to become a dental office manager may vary among employers depending on the responsibilities each position requires. However, there are some basic requirements that are standard across the profession:


The educational requirements for dental office managers vary based on each position and its responsibilities. Many dental offices may require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but some candidates may qualify for the position with a high school diploma and relevant experience. Those with a college degree typically study business administration or healthcare administration. Courses in accounting and computer programs like word processing and spreadsheet software are helpful for those who want to improve or expand their skill set.

The American Dental Association’s Center for Professional Success also offers training courses and several different free resources on topics relevant to dental practice success. Some of the practice management topics covered include finances, marketing, staff, patients, office design, technology and guidelines for practice success.


Dental office managers must have related work experience reflecting administrative, managerial and leadership abilities. Many professionals will get their training on the job as an administrative assistant or receptionist before advancing to a management position. Training for dental office managers generally covers best practices for organization, management and hiring as well as budget and supply management, office and clerical procedures, use of computer applications, use of office equipment and other technical requirements.


Most dental office manager positions do not require specific certification. However, the Dental Assisting National Board provides courses and certification programs to help dental office managers or those who want to apply for these positions to improve relevant skills and excel in their career. These courses cover a range of relevant topics including accounts receivable for dental offices, behavior guidance and management for pediatric dental patients, financial reporting for the dental office and human resource fundamentals for the dental office. Though these certifications are not required by most practices, they can help a professional fill in the gaps in their skill set to become a more competitive candidate.


Effective dental office managers will learn some of the necessary skills for this position while on the job. However, other relevant skills can be learned outside the field through other work experience. Here are some of the most relevant and important skills dental office managers should develop:


Dental office managers need to communicate effectively with both the dental office team and patients. These office managers are often working directly with patients making sure they have a positive experience while motivating the office team to provide quality service. These tasks may require the professional to adapt their communication style to effectively relay information.

Customer service

Since dental office managers deal directly with patients on a day-to-day basis, it is important that they can provide quality customer service. This involves listening to and empathizing with patients while exhibiting a helpful attitude and friendly demeanor. Being able to read others’ emotions and anticipate their needs is also helpful.


In managing office staff and coordinating administrative duties, dental office managers need to be able to motivate employees, deal with issues that may arise and make decisions that benefit the practice. These tasks require the office manager to provide clear guidance to other employees and lead by example.

Attention to detail

Dental office managers need to be detail-oriented, as their position often requires them to organize and maintain scheduling and billing information for many different patients. Paying close attention to the details allows these professionals to maintain accurate records while preventing mistakes.


These professionals should be able to review the practice’s procedures and find ways to improve their efficiency. Being able to maintain an organized environment while always looking for areas of improvement enables dental office managers to ensure that the practice is profitable and efficient over time.

Dental office manager clerk work environment

The majority of dental office managers work in private practice dental offices and clinics. Most dental office managers work in a full-time role, spending most of the day in the office while working with patients and staff. The dental office manager position may require night and weekend hours, depending on the availability of the clinic.

How to become a dental office manager

Many of these professionals go through the following steps to pursue this career path:

1. Obtain a high school diploma

Earn a high school diploma or GED, focusing on elective courses in business, computers and accounting. While earning your diploma, work on improving relevant skills like organization and leadership by taking on leadership roles in school clubs or community organizations.

2. Pursue a bachelor’s degree

To learn the basics of dental office management and improve your chances of getting hired for a job in this field, work toward earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration or health management. These programs provide the knowledge needed to start working in an office management position through courses in business communication, management and bookkeeping. 

3. Take certification courses

Though certification courses may not be required for the position, they can help professionals become more qualified and competitive candidates. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, take certification courses through the Dental Assisting National Board. These certification courses focus on the skills necessary to successfully manage a dental practice, such as financial reporting and human resource management for the dental office.

4. Get on-the-job training

While taking courses to learn the skills necessary to become a dental office manager, look for opportunities to gain on-the-job training through an entry-level position at a dental clinic or by job shadowing a dental office manager. Working in an office support position allows you to learn how a dental office runs while getting experience working with patients and learning important clerical tasks.

5. Apply to dental office manager positions

No matter which path you take to become a dental office manager, you will need to develop a comprehensive resume before you start applying for positions. When developing your resume, take time to describe your education, training, experience and skills in clear, concise language that aligns your qualifications with the expectations of the job role.

Dental office manager job description example

Hart Dental, an established private dental practice, is looking for a driven, energetic, and detail-oriented office manager for our thriving office in Atlanta, Georgia. The dental office manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of our practice and plays a pivotal role in our office’s profitability and growth. Our ideal candidate will be dedicated to creating a professional environment that is focused on responsiveness to our patients’ needs.

We are looking for someone with at least two to five years of experience in a dental office with knowledge of dental terminology and software as well as Google applications and other related software like Microsoft Office. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required, but a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field is preferred.

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Related careers

There are a variety of careers related to dental office managers, requiring similar skills, education and experience:

  • Medical office manager

  • Administrative officer

  • Medical director

  • Medical receptionist

  • Medical records clerk

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