Find Dental Assistant Schools and Program Reviews.
Welcome to the premier resource for tomorrow’s professional Dental Assistants. [Leer en español].
DentalAssistantEDU.org is a comprehensive guide for prospective students looking to inform their career decision process with accurate data. You’ll find state-by-state information on local requirements for dental assistants and hygienists, salaries by metropolitan district, chapters of professional associations and full listings of available degree programs by region.
Discover the best dental assistant schools online or in your area and uncover the key information you need to make the right decision concerning your future career path.
How do I find dental assistant programs near me?
Check out our state by state guides for detailed information on schools, state requirements, employment opportunities outlook, salaries and more:
District Of Columbia
You can also search schools by city.
Calling Tomorrow’s Dental Hygienists
Looking for a career in Dental Hygiene? We now offer dedicated information for tomorrow’s dental hygienists. Get information on state requirements, salaries, employment outlook and full school listings here.
How To Become a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are members of a dental team who perform a variety of technical, inter-personal and office management-related tasks. A career in this field is often varied and flexible, with excellent employment prospects. See our salary guide.
Education and Certification
Dental assisting programs are usually certificate level courses of study that take between nine and eleven months to complete. Some locations offer accelerated programs that may be completed in an even shorter time, while other locations have online or part-time education programs to accommodate the needs of as many students as possible. There are approximately 270 programs across the country accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). You’ll find them all on this site, either searching by state or by going directly to city pages, such as those for Atlanta, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Wichita, Portland, Louisville, Boston, or Baltimore.
Students who complete a CODA-accredited program are eligible to take the Certified Dental Assisting (CDA) examination through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Those who completed a non-accredited training program or learn dental assisting through hands-on job training must have two years of full-time experience before they are eligible to take the CDA examination.
Not all states require graduation from an accredited program or national certification in order to work, although some duties that dental assistants routinely perform may not be open to them without these qualifications. However, many states do require you to meet these qualifications, and others ask for state-specific registration or licensing before an individual may work in that state.
There are four regulated tasks that some dental assistants perform if individual state regulations permit. These tasks are coronal polishing (removing soft tooth deposits), sealant application (painting a thin, plastic substance on teeth to help prevent cavities), fluoride application and topical anesthetic application (to numb areas for surgical procedures).
What will I Learn on a Dental Assisting Program?
You can expect classroom instruction in oral anatomy, dental materials, digital dental radiography and X-ray techniques, oral hygiene, clinical procedures and treatments – including emergency procedures, infection control and prevention, how to take a patient’s medical history, HIPAA guidelines for dental practices as well as the administrative tasks of the dental office. Some schools may offer externships as part of the education process, so students can receive instruction from and work alongside experienced staff.
How Much Does Dental Assistant School Cost?
Diploma programs are typically shorter in length, include only coursework and are usually taken at vocational colleges. Tuition costs can be anywhere from $3,000 to $13,000. The cost of certification exams may or may not be included in the cost of the program. Associate’s degrees are generally taken at either a private two-year college or at a community college. These programs may take up to two years to complete. The cost of tuition for such programs will typically be between $6,000 and $15,000. Depending on your state, a public community college may be the more affordable option. You may also be eligible for financial aid.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Dental Assistant?
Some training programs may be as short as 10 weeks, or you can attend a college program and graduate with an associate’s degree after about two years. Depending on the regulations in the state you wish to work, you may be required to pass a licensing or certification exam. You might also be required to complete some hands-on training under the supervision of dentist, experienced dental assistant or an office manager.
Can I Study Online?
Yes, you can. While you will want to gain work experience, there are a variety of online study options available to prepare you with the necessary knowledge for the job. Some, such as that offered by Penn Foster, offer support to gain an externship. You can also use the search box at the top of this page to find local colleges that offer online training.
What do Dental Assistants Do?
Dental assistants are valuable team members in a variety of private dental practices, including solo dental practices, group dental practices and specialty practices such as orthodontics or pediatric dentistry. These professionals may also assist dentists in settings such as hospital wards or nursing homes.
Their skills allow them to play an important role in the prevention of oral health problems. They may work in locations that do not offer the full scope of dental clinic treatments, such as schools or community health clinics. In these locations, they often focus on preventative services such as teaching about good oral health care or providing preventative materials such as fluoride.
The field of dental assisting covers a wide range of services, and different jobs may vary greatly in the duties they require. Some dental assisting involves a significant amount of front-office and interpersonal work, including managing supplies, scheduling appointments, taking medical histories and instructing patients about proper post-procedural oral care.
Dental assisting may also involve a variety of technical responsibilities including the preparation and sterilization of instruments, the development of infection control protocols, taking and developing radiographs and take impressions of teeth for models.
The variety of work offered by dental assisting is one of the features that attract many young professionals to this career. The role also frequently provides flexible hours and an abundance of part-time work (approximately one in three worked part time in 2019).
Those who want to move beyond clinical practice may also pursue a variety of other opportunities.
Some use their experience to process dental insurance claims for insurance companies, manage patient billing and accounting, or to become sales representatives for corporations that sell dental products or treatments.
Many experienced workers also pursue jobs in education. Positions are available in clinical settings, where experienced assistants help new students learn clinical procedures. Some also take classroom teaching positions at dental schools, technical or vocational schools, community colleges or universities that offer dental assisting programs.
Independent teaching positions often require a significant amount of clinical experience, and may also require additional education in the form of an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree.
The field of dental assisting currently offers a very strong job outlook. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment in the field will grow by 11 percent between 2018 and 2028. This is much higher than the rate of growth predicted for employment in all occupations, which is 11 percent, and in line with growth within healthcare professions.
According to the BLS, this growth will be driven by two main factors. First, research continues to demonstrate a connection between good oral health and good overall physical health, which is increasing the demand for dental services. In addition, federal legislation to increase the number of people with health and dental insurance is expected to increase the need for dental services. As dentists and sometimes dental hygienists take on more patients to accommodate this demand, it will increase the need for dental assistants to perform office management, equipment preparation and patient liaison tasks.
How much do dental assistants make?
The median annual wage for dental assistants in 2020 was very close to the median annual wage for all occupations: $41,180 compared to $41,950. That’s equivalent to $19.80 per hour. The highest-paid 10 percent of dental assistants earned more than $58,390, as much as some dental hygienists. The dental assistants in the bottom 10 percent of the income bracket – entry-level positions – earned less than $28,940. Pay conditions vary by area.
While those with more experience are likely to earn more money than those with less, experience is not the only variable when it comes to the annual wage of dental assistants. Since dental assisting duties can vary, wages will also vary depending on the services required by individual employers. Those who perform mostly office management and patient-contact duties are likely to earn less than dental assistants whose jobs also include a significant number of technical duties. States that permit dental assistants to perform regulated tasks such as coronal polishing or sealant application generally offer a higher earning potential than states that restrict these activities to dental practitioners or hygienists.