What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
Dental assistants work with dentists, hygienists, and lab techs to help patients solve and prevent problems in their mouths. U.S. state laws set the scope of work permitted, but common duties include:
- Preparing treatment rooms
- Sterilizing equipment
- Readying instruments during procedures
- X-ray processing
- Booking appointments
- Helping patients with billing and questions
Why Should I go to a Dental Career School?
Some states allow dental assistants to train on the job. Other states require licensure, which relies on you going through a dental assisting program.
However, even if you’re in a state with no formal education requirements, dental assistant training can pay off handsomely. Completing a training program shows prospective employers you are capable in the environment and well equipped for the job. There’s nothing wrong with getting a leg up in job applications!
Also, if you complete schooling from an accredited program, you will be eligible to test for certification. Certified dental assistants have the opportunity for higher pay. Dental assistants looking to become nationally certified can take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Find YOUR local accredited dental assistant training program.
What are the Requirements for Dental Assisting School?
The requirements for dental career schools are very minimal, and no prior experience is necessary to enroll. Most schools require a high school diploma or GED equivalent. You may need to pass a physical and have immunizations up to date.
What do You Learn in Dental Assistant Training?
In school, you will learn the anatomy and physiology of the mouth, including the teeth, gums, jaw, and tongue. You’ll cover instruments and materials, radiology, chairside practices, and more.
How Long will Dental Training Take?
Dental assistant training leading to a diploma or certificate can be completed in as few as 10 months! There are also associate degree programs, which can take approximately 18 months to 2 years to complete.
How Much will Dental School Cost?
On average, schooling costs about $15,000. Total cost is determined by type of school (private vs. public), type of program (certificate vs. associate degree), and in-state vs. out-of-state status.
Do Dental Schools Offer Financial Aid?
Many schools are able to offer payment plans and can accept applicable financial aid, such as the GI Bill. Common forms of financial aid for dental students include grants, scholarships, and student loans. For more information, view the reference section at the end of this article.
How do I get Licensed as a Dental Assistant?
If your state requires licensing, your school will help prepare you for state-approved testing. The test will include a written section, as well as a hands-on evaluation.
What Kind of Jobs Could I Pursue as a Dental Assistant?
Dental assisting is the most common job among dental assistant training grads. However, there are other professions in the dental field that a dental assistant training certificate can lead into with more training:
- dental hygienist
- dental office business team administrator
- dental sales representative
- dental assistant instructor
How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make?
In 2022, dental assistants averaged $44,710, and the top 10% made closer to $59,200 (bls.gov). Read more about pay in How Much Money Do Dental Assistants Make?