Dental Assistant Certification Requirements

Research what's needed to be eligible to get credentialed as a Certified Dental Assistant. See training requirements such as courses, some of the standards for admission and wage information.

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Essential Information

Dental assistants provide both clinical and clerical support in licensed dentists' offices. Aspiring dental assistants learn the basics of oral health and patient communication through an associate's degree program in dental assisting. Such a program can be found at a 2-year community college or vocational school. These programs are designed to provide students (namely, high school raduates) with a strong understanding of dental office procedures and dental assistant duties.

While enrolled in an associate's degree program in dental assisting, students learn how to recognize, identify and clean basic dental equipment. They learn the basics of dental radiology and oral health maintenance, and they're often required to complete a supervised, practical course in dental assisting techniques and chairside assistance before graduation. Several states in the U.S. require that dental assistants hold the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA®) certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), which offers three eligibility pathways.

Educational Prerequisites

Students who aspire to earn a dental assistant certification will need a high school diploma or a GED. Those who earned high marks in mathematics, social science and English communication will likely do well in these programs.

Program Coursework

Most courses found within an educational program in dental assisting are practical in nature, and they provide students with the exact skill sets they will need to gain certification in the field. Some such courses include:

  • Chairside assisting
  • Dental materials
  • Dental radiology
  • Oral anatomy
  • Dental profession basics
  • Dental language
  • Office procedures
  • Clinical chairside practicum
  • First-Aid and CPR
  • Dental lab procedures

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more than 297,000 dental assistants employed across the country (www.bls.gov). Most dental assistants worked in the offices of dentists, and they made a median annual wage of $34,500 in 2012. New Hampshire was the top-paying state for dental assistants in the U.S. in 2012, followed by Minnesota, Alaska, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts, says the BLS.

Certification Information

The majority of states in the U.S. require dental assistants to gain licensure by completing an accredited educational training program and/or passing a series of examinations. Many states recognize the Certified Dental Assistant certification, offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), as meeting these requirements. To gain certification from the DANB (www.danb.org), students can select one of three eligibility pathways.

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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Florida (3 campuses)
    • Georgia (1 campus)
    • New Jersey (1)
    • New York (3)
    • Texas (3)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 18 years of age or older
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Distance Learning Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have completed 12 college credits
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • California (19 campuses)
    • Washington (1)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    • Non-Degree
        • Certificate - Health Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must hold a Bachelor's degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    During which term would you like to start?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
        • Advanced General Dentistry Programs
        • Dental Assisting
        • Dental Clinical Science
        • Dental Laboratory Tech
        • Dental Public Health and Education
        • Dentistry - DDS, DMD
        • Endodontics
        • Oral Biology and Oral Pathology
        • Oral Surgery
        • Orthodontics
        • Pediatric Dentistry
        • Periodontics
        • Prosthodontics
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nutrition Services
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New York University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
        • Dental Assisting
        • Dental Clinical Science
        • Dental Hygienist
        • Dental Laboratory Tech
        • Dentistry - DDS, DMD
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Assisting
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Nutrition Services
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
        • Dental Assisting
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (3 campuses)
    Areas of study you may find at Indiana University include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Dental
        • Dental Assisting
        • Dental Hygienist
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Georgia (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Medix Schools include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
        • Dental Assisting
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Assisting
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Nursing Professions

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