While there are no undergraduate degree or certificate programs designed specifically for aspiring orthodontic technicians, they can get the training they need through dental assisting programs. These programs provide hands-on training in the field and prepare graduates for certification in the states where it is required.
10 Schools with Dental Assisting Programs
The following public institutions provide dental assisting programs:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*|
|University of Alaska, Anchorage - College of Health||Anchorage, AK||4-year, Public||Certificate, Associate's||In-state $5,545; Out-of-state $17,177|
|Calhoun Community College||Tanner, AL||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate's||In-state $4,320; Out-of-state $7,770|
|Pima Community College||Tucson, AZ||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate's||In-state $1,974; Out-of-state $8,610|
|San Diego Mesa College||San Diego, CA||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate's||In-state $1,142; Out-of-state $4,670|
|Front Range Community College||Westminster, CO||2-year, Public||Certificate||In-state $3,527; Out-of-state $13,244|
|Broward College||Fort Lauderdale, FL||4-year, Primarily associate's, Public||Diploma, Associate's||In-state $2,753; Out-of-state $8,875|
|Cerritos College||Norwalk, CA||2-year, Public||Certificate||In-state $1,346; Out-of-state $7,926|
|Indiana University-Purdue University||Indianapolis, IN||4-year, Public||Certificate||In-state $9,056; Out-of-state $29,774|
|Rutgers University||New Brunswick, NJ||4-year, Public||Certificate||In-state $14,131; Out-of-state $29,521|
|Monroe Community College||Rochester, NY||2-year, Public||Certificate||In-state $4,554; Out-of-state $8,354|
Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); School websites
School Selection Criteria
Consider these points when choosing a school:
- Students should make sure that the school is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), which is a part of the American Dental Association.
- Students may want to look for schools that have on-campus dental or orthodontic clinics.
- Some certificate programs can be applied to the completion of an associate's degree, which may be important to students who eventually wish to continue their education.
- Some schools offer their dental assistant programs through distance learning, allowing students who live far from campus to consider studying without relocating.
Undergraduate certificate programs in dental assisting provide students with career-focused training and preparation for certification exams in the states where it is required. Even in states where dental assistants do not need to be certified, passing the exam to earn the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) designation or the Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) designation can improve job prospects. Topics covered in these programs include the chair-side procedures for orthodontics or dentistry, infectious materials control, office management assistance and X-ray handling.
Associate's Degree Programs
For students who want to take general education courses in addition to dental assisting classes, Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs are available. The curriculum of these programs generally mirrors that of certificate programs, including basic dentistry courses and clinical practica, but students also have the chance to broaden their education through supplemental electives like psychology or nutrition. In total, AAS in Dental Assisting programs take two years of full-time study to complete.
A number of 2- and 4-year public colleges and universities offer dental assisting programs for aspiring orthodontist technicians. Program costs vary, and online courses may be an option at some institutions.