Become a Dental Assistant in Pennsylvania

From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, now is a great time to start a career in dental assisting. The growth in healthcare jobs generally, and the increasing delegation of responsibilities from dentists to their assistants is fueling demand for workers in this area. [Seguir leyendo en español]

There are almost 12,000 people employed as dental assistants in the state Pennsylvania and this number is predicated to grow by almost 8% in the decade to 2024. Between employment growth and job replacements the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis expects there to be around 408 annual job openings.

(Find out how to become a dental hygienist in Pennsylvania.)

Requirements

There are no specific educational requirements for dental assistants in Pennsylvania, when acting under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, and performing basic chairside assisting functions as defined in the state’s dental practice act.

For dental assistants who want to increase their usefulness in the dental practice, and access higher salaries, a career-specific training program is an excellent option.

How to become an EFDA in Pennsylvania

Becoming an Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA) in the state of Pennsylvania will allow you to perform expanded functions under your supervising dentist. This certification is given to persons who have passed a Board-acceptable written exam, and who have graduated from an expanded-function dental assisting associate’s program Board-approved institution or a 2 year college, who have graduated from CODA-approved dental hygiene program of at least 75 didactic and clinical training in restorative functions, or who have completed a state certification program in expanded functions of at least 200 hours of didactic and clinical training from either a Board-approved dental assisting program or a CODA-accredited dental assisting program.

To legally operate x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures, you must be authorized by the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry. To attain authorisation, you must pass the DANB’s Radiation and Health Safety exam.

Popular Programs

Dental Assistant Salaries by Area

The average salary for Dental Assistants in Pennsylvania, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $34,890, or $16.78 per hour. Higher salaries tend to be found in Philadelphia and the eastern border areas with New York and New Jersey, while salaries are lower in Pittsburgh, the north and the west. Most jobs are in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area.

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA21,720$18.01$37,470
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA540$16.44$34,200
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ1,030$16.53$34,380
Altoona, PA110$15.30$31,830
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA90$15.74$32,750
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA130$16.40$34,120
East Stroudsburg, PA**$15.47$32,180
Erie, PA250$13.61$28,300
Gettysburg, PA110$15.14$31,500
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA570$16.84$35,030
Johnstown, PA90$12.50$25,990
Lancaster, PA530$19.30$40,150
Lebanon, PA90$15.72$32,690
Pittsburgh, PA2,090$16.46$34,230
Reading, PA440$16.94$35,240
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA630$16.31$33,920
State College, PA140$15.12$31,450
Williamsport, PA90$15.11$31,420
York-Hanover, PA350$16.18$33,650
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD5,810$18.02$37,470

Well-known Schools

There are 27 US Department of Education-recognized schools in Pennsylvania that offer dental assisting programs. Of these, ten are public community or technical colleges, two are private not-for-profit schools, and the rest are private for-profit schools. Search online for alumni reviews of these schools. You should note that there are also private schools which are not recognized by the DoE, which offer short training programs in dental assisting. These schools are not eligible for financial aid, but may offer a fast route to an entry-level position in dental assisting.

Philadelphia

Manor College in Jenkintown (about 10 miles north of downtown Philadelphia) offers an EFDA program. This program is accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation. Students train under direct supervision of licensed dentists in the College’s own Dental Health Center, which serves around 2,000 members of the local community each year. Students graduate with an Associate in Applied Science degree and have the option of continuing their studies in other areas of Allied Health at the Bacholor’s degree level.

Harcum College in Bryn Mawr offers a Dental Assisting with EFDA program. On completion of the first two semesters (grade “C” or higher) plus a summer session students earn a Dental Assisting Certificate. If they successfully complete a further two semesters they can earn a Dental Assisting with EFDA Associate’s degree. Harcum also offers a dental hygiene program. The college is located on Philadelphia’s Main Line, about 15 miles from downtown Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Career Institute offers as 10-month program leading to a Diploma in dental assisting. This program is not CODA-accredited but could help prepare you for an entry-level dental assisting role in a reasonably short period. The College is located in Uptown Pittsburgh, near Point State Park.

The Institute of Medical Careers (IMC) in Penn Hills, about 13 miles from central Pittsburgh, offers a 1,260 clock-hour diploma program in dental assisting. On completion of the program IMC pays the fees for students to take the DANB’s Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) and the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exams. The program is not CODA-accredited.

Bradford School in Pittsburgh offers an EFDA program.

Other locations

Lehigh Valley School of Dental Assisting is a private school not recognized by the US Department of Education (and therefore ineligible for Federal financial aid) but licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools. The school teaches basic dental science, dental x-ray skills and prepares students for certification exams. The school is in Whitehall, PA, just northeast of Allentown.

Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg (HACC), Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers a CODA-accredited Dental Assisting Certificate program. Admission to the program is selective and competitive. Students admitted previously have had a minimum GPA of 2.0 and the average GPA of admitted students is around 3.0. Classes start each Fall, and 18 to 20 students are admitted.

Altoona, PA

Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center

1500 Fourth Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania 16602-3616
(814) 946-8450 x1256
http://www.gactc.edu/efda.asp

Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center’s diploma program is offered at their campus in the city of Altoona, PA. This public college has around 293 students in total, with the majority of students on programs that last under 2 years.The dental assistant program has annual tuition fees of $12,691 and material costs of $3,239. The average completion time for the program is 12 months.

Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center

1500 Fourth Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania 16602-3616
(814) 946-8450 x1256
http://www.gactc.edu/efda.asp

Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center’s diploma program is offered at their campus in the city of Altoona, PA. Most of the school’s 293 students are on < 2-year programs. Annual tuition fees for the dental assisting program are $12,691 and books and supplies costs of $3,239. The average completion time for the program is 12 months.

Erie, PA

Fortis Institute-Erie

5757 W 26th St, Erie, Pennsylvania 16506-1013
(814) 838-7673
http://www.fortis.edu/campuses/career-training/dental-assisting/5757-west-26th-street-erie-pa.aspx

The Certificate program at Fortis Institute is taught at their Erie campus. Most of the school’s 1,090 students are on 2-year programs. Fees at the college are around $13,105 per year. Tuition for out-of-state students is $13,105.

Great Lakes Institute of Technology

5100 Peach Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16509-2482
(814) 864-6666
http://www.glit.edu/dental_assistant.php

Great Lakes Institute of Technology’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Erie in Erie County, PA. The college has around 488 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Tuition fees at this college are around $16,023 per year. The fees for students from outside the state of Pennsylvania are $16,023.

Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA

YTI Career Institute-Capital Region

401 East Winding Hill Road Suite 101, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055
(717) 761-1481
http://www.yti.edu/programs/Dental-Assisting.asp

YTI Career Institute’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Mechanicsburg in Cumberland County, PA. Most of the school’s 290 students are on 2-year programs. Annual fees for the dental assisting program are $13,800 and books and supplies costs of $1,400. On average the program takes 9 months to complete.

Keystone Technical Institute

2301 Academy Dr, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17112-1012
(717) 545-4747
http://www.kti.edu/dental-assistant-degree/

The Associate’s program at Keystone Technical Institute is taught at their Harrisburg campus. The majority of the school’s 314 students are on 2-year programs. Annual tuition fees for the dental assisting program are $28,126 and books and supplies costs of $1,838. The average completion time for the program is 18 months.

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Everest Institute-Bensalem

3050 Tillman Drive, Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020-2062
(267) 223-2900
http://www.everest.edu/campus/bensalem/program/dental-assistant

Everest Institute’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Bensalem in Bucks County, PA. The majority of the school’s 401 students are on < 2-year programs. The dental assistant program has annual tuition fees of $16,674 and material costs of $962. On average the program takes 8 months to complete.

All-State Career School-Allied Health Campus

50 W Powhattan Ave, Essington, Pennsylvania 19029
(610) 362-1124 x1110
http://www.allstatecareer.edu/expandedfunctiondentalassistant.php

The Certificate program at All-State Career School-Allied Health Campus is offered at their campus in Essington in Delaware County. Most of the school’s 432 students are on 2-year programs. Tuition fees at this college are about $20,680 per year, while the fees for students from other states are $20,680.

Harcum College

750 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010-3470
(610) 525-4100
http://harcum.edu/s/1044/edu/majors.aspx?sid=1044&gid=1&pgid=1292

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Bryn Mawr campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. This private, not-for-profit college has about 1,562 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Tuition fees at the school are about $20,660 per year, while tuition for out-of-state students is $20,660.

Harcum College

750 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania 19010-3470
(610) 525-4100
http://harcum.edu/s/1044/edu/majors.aspx?sid=1044&gid=1&pgid=1292

Harcum College’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Bryn Mawr in Delaware County, PA. The program is accredited by the American Dental Association. The majority of the school’s 1,562 students are on 2-year programs. Fees at this school are approximately $20,660 per year. Tuition for students from outside the state of Pennsylvania is $20,660.

Harris School of Business-Upper Darby Campus

20 South 69th St, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania 19082
(484) 463-3800
http://www.harrisschool.edu/dental-assistant-schools/

Harris School of Business’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Upper Darby in Delaware County, PA. This private, for-profit college has approximately 626 students in total, with most students on programs that last under 2 years.The dental assistant program has annual tuition fees of $13,356 and material costs of $700. The average completion time for the program is 9 months.

Kaplan Career Institute-Broomall

1991 Sproul Road Suite 42, Broomall, Pennsylvania 19008
(610) 353-7630
https://www.kaplancareerinstitute.com/programs/dental-assistant-diploma/

The Certificate program at Kaplan Career Institute is offered at their campus in Broomall in Delaware County. This private, for-profit college has around 559 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Annual fees for the dental assisting program are $15,827 and books and supplies costs of $982. The average completion time for the program is 9 months.

Kaplan Career Institute-Philadelphia

3010 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
(215) 594-4000 x4020
https://www.kaplancareerinstitute.com/programs/dental-assistant-diploma/

Kaplan Career Institute’s diploma program is offered at their campus in the city of Philadelphia, PA. Most of the school’s 752 students are on 2-year programs. The dental assistant program has annual tuition fees of $15,827 and material costs of $982. The average completion time for the program is 9 months.

Pittsburgh, PA

Career Training Academy-Lower Burrell

179 Hillcrest Shopping Center, Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania 15068
(724) 337-1000
http://careerta.edu/programs/dental-assisting/

Career Training Academy’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Lower Burrell, PA. The majority of the school’s 123 students are on 2-year programs. The dental assistant program has annual tuition fees of $12,618 and material costs of $1,183. The average completion time for the program is 10 months.

Westmoreland County Community College

145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood, Pennsylvania 15697-1895
(724) 925-4000
https://wccc.edu/pages/future-students/academic-programs/allied-health/dental-assisting/

Westmoreland County Community College’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Youngwood in Westmoreland County, PA. The program is ADA accredited. Most of the school’s 6,571 students are on 2-year programs. Annual tuition fees for in-district students are $3,420, while fees for in-state and out-of-state students are $6,390 and $9,180 respectively.

Westmoreland County Community College

145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood, Pennsylvania 15697-1895
(724) 925-4000
https://wccc.edu/pages/future-students/academic-programs/allied-health/expanded-functions-dental-assisting/

The Certificate program at Westmoreland County Community College is taught at their Youngwood campus. The program is accredited by the ADA. Most of the school’s 6,571 students are on 2-year programs. Yearly fees for in-district students are $3,420, while fees for in-state and out-of-state students are $6,390 and $9,180 respectively.

Reading, PA

Berks Technical Institute

2205 Ridgewood Rd, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania 19610-1168
(610) 372-1722
http://www.berks.edu/programs/dental-assistant

The Associate’s program at Berks Technical Institute is taught at their Wyomissing campus. The majority of the school’s 1,139 students are on 2-year programs. Fees at this college are around $10,120 per year, while tuition for out-of-state students is $10,120.

Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA

Luzerne County Community College

1333 South Prospect Street, Nanticoke, Pennsylvania 18634-3899
(570) 740-0200
http://www.luzerne.edu/academics/catalog2013/program.jsp?code=DAS&header=dental.jpg&dept=1&d=5&o=1

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Nanticoke campus. This program of study is ADA accredited. The college has about 6,579 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Yearly fees for in-district students are $4,140, while fees for in-state and out-of-state students are $7,770 and $11,400 respectively.

State College, PA

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology

540 N Harrison Rd, Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania 16823
(814) 359-2793
https://www.cpi.edu/courses/course/?id=60

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology’s diploma program is offered at their campus in Pleasant Gap in Centre County, PA. The majority of the school’s 193 students are on < 2-year programs. The college’s retention rate for full-time students is over 80%. Fees at the college are about $14,325 per year. The fees for students from outside Pennsylvania are $14,325.

York-Hanover, PA

YTI Career Institute-York

1405 Williams Road, York, Pennsylvania 17402
(717) 757-1100
http://www.yti.edu/programs/Dental-Assisting.asp

The Certificate program at YTI Career Institute is offered at their campus in York in York County. This private, for-profit college has about 1,838 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The dental assistant program has annual tuition fees of $15,200 and material costs of $1,400. The average completion time for the program is 9 months.

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