A certificate program in dental radiation is often offered through community or vocational colleges, and it provides individuals with the practical knowledge necessary to operate radiography equipment under the supervision of licensed dentists. Often, dental radiation courses are offered through comprehensive dental assistant certificate or degree programs, in which case graduates have already fulfilled the requirements necessary to gain state certification.
- Prerequisites: Experienced and certified dental assistant. High school diploma or equivalent required if dental assistant program includes radiation courses.
- Experiential Learning: Clinical and lab work.
- Program Length: 60 hours of classroom training.
- Online Availability: Online courses and programs are not typically available.
Dental Radiation Certification Programs
Dental radiation certificate programs provide a theoretical overview of radiation physics, radiation protection and oral biology. Students learn how to position and prepare patients for X-ray examinations, as well as training to operate X-ray machines and process the resulting film.
The courses found within a dental radiation certificate program provide a theoretical background of radiation technology and safety procedures as well as a clinical background in practical equipment operation. Course topics include:
- Radiation biology
- Evaluation of dental radiographs
- Radiation safety
- Patient preparation
- Digital radiography
- Dental radiographic techniques
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Dentists' offices and similar oral health care facilities employed about 314,330 dental assistants in the United States in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Figures from the BLS show the median annual salary for the profession as of 2014 was $35,390, and the top-paying states for dental assistants were New Hampshire, Alaska, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and North Dakota. (www.bls.gov).
Not all states require dental assistants to become certified before practicing in the field; however, many states do require dental assistants to gain licensure before they can operate radiography equipment. Most of those states require individuals to complete either a dental radiation certificate program or a dental assisting training program with radiography courses before earning certification. The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers a Radiation Health and Safety certification examination that is recognized by 30 states in the U.S. Other states require individuals to complete an approved radiology course to gain certification.