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Dental Assistant Schools and Training Programs

How to Become a Dental Assistant

A new career as a Dental Assistant offers great hours and benefits, good wages, a clean work area and the opportunity to help others. You can gain entry into this profession through a fast-track certificate training or complete an associate’s degree programs.

Unlike dental hygienists, there is no officially mandated degree program for Dental Assistants.  However, there are different avenues you can take to become a Dental Assistant. The specific process will vary depending on your location, as state requirements are different. Varied accredited programs, state exams, and experience are dependent on state.

Most states do not require formal education beyond high school to become a Dental Assistant, though certification is usually necessary to provide expanded duties such as taking x-rays. If you are aspiring to become a Dental Assistant, you must look up the requirements set forth by the state you wish to work in.

Education

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Regardless of your location, education is an important part of your path to becoming a Dental Assistant. Some states have no formal educational requirements while many require Dental Assistants to complete an accredited training program.

These programs typically last one year and are offered by community colleges and vocational schools. There are two-year programs for Dental Assistants. While they are not as common, they may also transfer credits toward an associate’s degree. After successfully finishing a Dental Assistant program, you may need to pass a certification examination depending on your state.

Certification

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The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is the organization responsible for administering the certification exam, and is recognized nationally. DANB certification is required in 38 states to work as a Dental Assistant. In a survey they conducted in 2011, they stated individuals who are certified make over two dollars an hour more than their non-certified counterparts.

Before you can sit for the DANB certification exam, you must graduate from an accredited Dental Assisting program or possess a high school diploma and have received on the job training. You must also be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in order to sit for the DANB certification.

DANB certification has to be renewed annual. To renew your certification you must pay a fee and prove 12 Continuing Dental Education (CDE) credits.

Dental Assistants enjoy good salary, regular hours, and a pleasant work environment. This professional is growing at a faster than average rate, meaning lots of opportunities for those entering the profession. If you enjoy working directly with patients, possess good interpersonal skills and don’t mind working in and around people’s mouths, this position may be an excellent fit for you.

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