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Wisconsin Dental Assistant Training

Dental assisting is a great hands-on career for anyone interested in healthcare.

Wisconsin does not license or register dental assistants. This means you can begin working with a licensed dentist right away, but there are good reasons to go to get formally trained.

As a dental assistant, you can work toward national certification, earn specialized credentials, hands-on training, and even take courses to eventually become a dental hygienist.

If you love working with people and want to get started now, consider dental assisting as a new career.

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What Can a Dental Assistant Do in Wisconsin?

In general, a Wisconsin dental assistant can perform whatever duties a supervising licensed dentist deems appropriate.

Some of the primary duties of most dental assistants include:

  • Perform basic office procedures
  • Basic dental laboratory procedures
  • Checking in patients and getting them settled in the dental chair
  • Taking patient vital signs and preparing them for exams and procedures
  • Handing instruments to or otherwise assisting a dentist during a procedure
  • Cleaning and sterilizing equipment and instruments
  • Educating and instructing clients in oral hygiene and the dentists’ instructions
  • Recording dental treatments
  • Filing and keeping patient records
  • Answering the phone and scheduling patients
  • Helping patients with billing and making payments

Wisconsin does not have any formal requirements for operating radiography equipment. A dental assistant in the state can handle and process X-rays if allowed by a supervising dentist. It is the dentist’s responsibility to ensure the dental assistant is trained to use the equipment safely.

Wisconsin law forbids dental assistants from performing specific duties, regardless of their education or credentials. These include any procedures that:

  • May cause significant damage to a patient’s teeth, and that would require professional remediation
  • May cause an adverse or systemic reaction
  • Involve preliminary assessments, dental hygiene treatment, oral screenings, or calculus removal

How to Become a Dental Assistant in Wisconsin

The state allows an unlicensed individual to work in this role providing basic supportive dental procedures but only under a licensed dentist’s supervision.

The responsibility in the state lies with the dentist. They must verify that a dental assistant can perform certain functions, either through previous training or education or on-the-job training. With this in mind, you have two main options for becoming a central assistant in Wisconsin:

Start with the school

You can start by enrolling in and completing a dental assistant program at a university, community college, or technical school. This allows you to begin working as soon as a dentist hires you, with only minimal training in the office.

Train on the job

If you want to skip school, you can find a dentist to hire you who is willing to train you on the job. Your duties will be limited as you learn to perform certain functions and procedures in the dental office.

What Are the Benefits of Going to Dental Assistant School in Wisconsin?

Although going to school is not a requirement in the state, there are several good reasons to consider this pathway:

  • Many dentists prefer to hire a dental assistant with a degree, diploma, or certificate. They often prioritize these individuals for jobs.
  • With a credential, you can dive right into the work with minimal training.
  • You can likely earn a higher salary with a degree or certificate.
  • Academic courses will help you transition to a career in dental hygiene later. Many programs let you apply those courses to a dental hygiene degree.
  • You can earn a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential through the Dental Assisting National Board.

Dental Assistant Schools in Wisconsin and Accredited Dental Assistant Programs

If you want to earn a credential, Wisconsin schools offer several dental assistant programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA):

Fox Valley Technical College

Fox Valley Technical College
Fox Valley Technical College
  • Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Green Bay
  • Blackhawk Technical College, Janesville
  • Gateway Technical College, Kenosha
  • Western Technical College, La Crosse
  • Northwood Technical College, Rice Lake

Another option is to complete a dental assistant program online. Penn Foster offers a complete training program.

What are the Career Options for Dental Assistants?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 90% of dental assistants work in dental offices and private practices. They work under licensed dentists and dental hygienists, helping to make the practice run smoothly and keeping patients safe.

A dental office is the primary setting for this career, but other employers hire too. These include physician offices, hospitals, nursing homes, other residential facilities, government agencies, staffing services, and community clinics.

Depending on the size of the dental office in which you work, you may be able to focus more on administrative duties or hands-on, patient-centered responsibilities. If you work in a smaller office, expect to perform all the general duties of a dental assistant.

With a formal education, you have more future career options. You can work toward becoming a licensed dental hygienist, for instance, or specialize in dental lab work and become a technician.

Career Outlook

The BLS reports stronger-than-average job growth in dental assisting from 2020 through 2030. The growth rate is 11%, which amounts to approximately 44,000 open positions nationwide each year. This is a growing industry with plenty of opportunities for trained and skilled workers.

According to Projections Central, growth is strong in Wisconsin too. It projects a 7.3 percent growth in jobs for dental assistants in the state between 2018 and 2028. You can expect to see over 700 openings each year over the next several years.

Typical Salaries

The BLS reports a median annual salary for dental assistants across the U.S. of $41,180. The median hourly rate is $19.80. The top 10% of earners in the field make more than $58,000 per year. Government-employed dental assistants have the highest salaries.

In Wisconsin, the average salary range for dental assistants is between $37,740 and $40,980. You can earn a higher salary by earning a credential, becoming a CDA, specializing in certain functions, and having years of experience on the job. Some employers also pay more than others. Salaries will vary between cities such as Milwaukee and Madison.


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