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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Portland, Oregon

If you want to work and live in a colorful, vibrant city, Portland is an excellent place to start a career in dental assisting. Dental assistants generally do tasks including sterilizing equipment and assisting dentists during dental procedures, as well as handing administrative work such as scheduling appointments and billing patients. For those looking to upgrade their training, courses are available that teach more advanced dental assisting skills.

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Dental Assistant Programs in Portland

Because of Portland’s proximity to Vancouver, Washington, there are study opportunities available in both states.

  • Pacific Northwest Dental Assisting School, previously Radiance Dental Assisting Academy. Pacific Northwest Dental Assisting School is located in Camas, WA, just across the Columbia River from Portland. They offer night and weekend classes, making the 12-week program accessible to those working during the day. The course currently costs $3,995.00.
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  • Elite Dental Assisting Academy. The program at this Vancouver, WA, school takes 12 weeks to complete and consists of 28 classes, more than 100 hours of lecture and lab time and at least 100 to 150 hours of externship with a practicing dentist. Those interested in specific information about the program, including tuition costs, need to contact the school directly.
  • Portland Community College. PCC’s Sylvania campus, home of the PCC dental assisting program, is tucked into a wooded hillside in Portland’s Far Southwest neighborhood. Their nine-month certificate program costs approximately $7,300.00 including books. It also comes with benefits like on- and off-site clinics, a large on-campus library and college recreational facilities.

Certification and Licensing

There are no educational or training requirements in Oregon for basic dental assisting. However, taking biology, chemistry and anatomy in high school sets a good foundation for on-the-job learning, and having a dental assisting certificate is an advantage in the job market. Dental assistants are also not licensed in Oregon but must be certified by the Dental Assisting National Board in order to perform more advanced procedures. These procedures could include X-rays, coronal polishing, basic restorative work and orthodontic functions.

Working as a Dental Assistant in Portland

Dental assisting in Oregon is a steadily growing profession, with an estimated 15.3 percent growth rate between 2016 and 2026. This means that roughly 720 dental assistant jobs will open each year across the state. The highest concentration of these will be in urban areas like Portland, which also offers one of the highest pay rates for the dental assistants in the state: In 2017, the median hourly wage was $21.24, while the median salary was $44,190.00 per year. With a steady increase in dental assisting positions each year and competitive pay, Portland can be a great place to start a career.