Dental Assistant Certification Requirements

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 degree program in dental assisting.

Essential Information

These programs are designed to provide students (namely, high school graduates) with a strong understanding of dental office procedures and dental assistant duties. While enrolled in an associate 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 are 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.

  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Other Requirement: Practical courses must be completed before graduation

Associate's Degree in Dental Assistant Certification

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 language
  • Office procedures

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more than 314,330 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 $36,260 in 2014.

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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