Dental Assisting: Overview of Dental Assistant Adult Education Programs

If you would like to prepare for a secure, well-paid job in less than a year, you might enjoy a career as a dental assistant. Your certificate in dental assisting can be earned in a matter of months from a community college, trade or vocational school, technical institute, university, dental school, or even online.

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Dental assisting programs are readily available for adult learners across the country. Learn more about these programs, coursework and career outlook.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advanced General Dentistry Programs
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  • Pediatric Dentistry
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Program Information

Dental assisting is one of the country's fastest-growing careers, and a dental assistant can receive all of the training necessary to enter the profession through a certificate program from a community college, vocational school, technical institute, university, or dental school. The program will usually last less than one year, and upon completion it will be easy for the graduate to find a job in a dental practice. Students learn how to interact with and treat patients who come for dental work. They are also prepared to assist dentists with various aspects of their practice, including administrative and clinical duties. Following classroom lectures, students gain hands-on training through clinical experience.

Programs At a Glance

Dental Assisting Education

  • Typically one year or less to complete
  • Requires a high school diploma or equivalent and prior biology coursework to enroll and may require a reading assessment in some cases.
  • Can be found on-campus with day and night classes available, as well as some online classes.
  • May have a curriculum designed to prepare graduates for certification, depending on the state he/she decides to work in.

Courses for Adult Education Dental Assistant Programs

Coursework for adult education dental assistant programs includes health safety, radiography, dental materials, chairside manner, dental and general anatomy, dental assistant clinical, and dental assistant professionalism. The bulk of coursework focuses on dental assisting procedures to prepare students for their clinicals and working with real patients. Students usually have to complete a set number of clinical hours in a dental office or clinic. Some programs include coursework in various industry software used for charting, billing and coding procedures.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

A certified dental assistant can work for one dentist or in a group practice, or for a specialty practice such as periodontics or pediatric dentistry. Dental assistants also find work in hospitals, public health settings, and dental school clinics, or they can work in the field of dental product sales.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports that the median wage for dental assistants in May 2015 was $17.30 an hour, although those with the most training and experience can earn over $24.35 an hour. Another benefit of the job is that 90% of all dental assistants (both full and part time) receive free dental coverage with their health insurance plans.

Dental assisting is expected to be among the faster growing professions in the U.S. through the year 2024, according to the BLS. Demand for dental assistants is expected to grow at a job growth rate of 18%, from 2014 to 2024, as an increasing amount of people are in need of good dental care.

Most available programs in dental assisting are found on-campus at various institutions, but may include some online courses. Students in these programs learn the required procedures and techniques needed to work as a certified dental assistant.

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