The Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Assisting is a 2-year program that covers patient management and business procedures along with dental assisting techniques. Students should expect to complete lab and clinical work requirements as a part of this degree program. Students interested in enrolling in an Associate of Applied Science degree program should have a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, applicants must be certified in CPR.
Dental Assisting Degree Program
Core major coursework includes anatomy, dental assisting techniques and patient management as well as fulfillment of general education courses. Upon completion of this program, graduates should be prepared to take state and national board exams for licensure as a registered and certified dental assistant. Typically, coursework in a dental assisting program is science-based, although some general management and administrative classes are common. Common classes in a dental assisting program include the following:
- Human anatomy
- Dental radiography
- Dental assisting techniques
- Pharmacology in dentistry
- Oral and dental anatomy and development
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), job opportunities for assistants in the dental field, including orthodontic assistants, are projected to grow 7% between 2019 and 2029, a rate much faster than average. This growth is due in part to population growth, along with a rise in preventative care. In May 2020, the median yearly salary for dental assistants was $41,180, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates from a dental assisting program can continue to improve their skills through on-the-job training or credentials such as the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) designation. Registration or licensing may be required in some states. Individuals can also continue their education by studying for an expanded functions orthodontic assistant certificate. Certification requirements vary by state, so it's important to check with the local State Board of Dentistry for requirements.
Aspiring orthodontic assistants can achieve their occupational goals by first obtaining an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Assisting. Certification can be equally as important, if not essential, to obtaining work as an orthodontic assistant.