How Hard is Dental Assisting School?

So, you’ve got your sights set on a career in dental assisting, but now you’re wondering how hard it will be to get through dental assistant school. You might know that other medical and dental careers involve intensive study focusing on science and math courses, so is dental assistant school that difficult, too?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors, but it really comes down to your personal qualities and the type of education you consider difficult.

Do You Have the Necessary Qualities?

A large factor in how difficult dental assistant school will be for you is whether you possess the basic qualities needed by dental assistants. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), candidates for dental assisting should be detail-oriented, good communicators and listeners, be organized and good with their hands. If you don’t possess this full set of qualities, you may struggle more than other students in dental assistant programs.

What Exactly Dental Assistants Study

Dental assistants study to earn their Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) accreditation in certificate programs that are accredited by the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB). While requirements for dental assistant education vary from state to state, the DANB requires all dental assistants to pass exams in General Chairside Assisting (GC), Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) and Infection Control (ICE). Dental assisting courses teach basic skills in a short period of time, as most programs last less than a year.

Study guides for the CDA test are available on the DANB website and can give you an idea of what to expect in your dental assistant studies.

Length of Dental Assistant Programs

The American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that most dental assisting programs can be completed in 9 to 11 months, resulting in certificates. More advanced dental careers require associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees, so by comparison, dental assistant education takes much less time to complete.

While accelerated programs are available, their courses of study may be more rigorous in order to fit more information into a shorter timeframe. If you are concerned about the difficulty of a dental assistant program, it may be wise to study in a full-length or part-time program.

Standing Out from the Crowd

To gain an edge on competition when it comes time to find a job, you may be advised to go above and beyond basic required dental assistant training. The types of supplementary activities you pursue will also have an impact on how difficult it is for you to complete school. Some students complete additional volunteer hours, internships and externships on top of completing their minimum studies. The more effort you put into your career preparation, the more likely you will be to find a job.

Clinical and On-the-Job Training

After the traditional study portion of training, most skills are learned in clinical settings and even at your first job. That’s when you really find out if you can handle this career. Chairside assisting, computer programs and assisting techniques are commonly taught in the clinical portion of dental assisting.

Can You Make it Through Dental Assistant School?

The answer to this question depends entirely on you as an individual. If you are looking for a quick track to a career and are not willing to put forth effort, a career in dental assisting may not be your ideal choice. However, if you possess the necessary qualities, are willing to study in an accredited program and can complete extra opportunities to gain an edge on the job field, dental assistant school should not be that hard.

see our preferred schools