For those who want to purse a relatively short educational program with a good starting pay for graduates, an online dental assistant training program is a great fit. Dental assistant programs generally take nine to eleven months to complete and some colleges even offer accelerated programs and part-time certification programs where you can take classes at your own pace.
When choosing an online dental assistant program, make sure that the program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) through the American Dental Association, which is the main accrediting agency for colleges in the U.S. Educational programs that have this accreditation will make you eligible to take your certification exams in order become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). To attain nationally certification, you will have to pass the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exam. Without training by an accredited program, you are only eligible to take the CDA exam only after completing two years of full-time work as a dental assistant. Also, requirements for becoming a dental assistant do vary from state to state, so be sure to find an accredited college and check your state's requirements by going to the DANB website.
During an online program in dental assistance you will learn about preventative dentistry, dental examination, oral and dental anatomy and terminology, pain management, orthodontics, front office procedures, and oral surgery. Each program will prepare you to work beside dental hygienists and dentists to help bring a high level of care to all of your patients. You will also learn how to process x-rays, create and maintain records for patients, and apply your knowledge and customer service skills for optimum chair-side assisting.
Dental assistants are in high-demand across the country with a projected job growth of 25 percent as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also offer a competitive starting pay of nearly $35,000 per year on average. Many dental assistants go on to further their education by earning other certifications and becoming a more valuable member of their dental team.
Becoming a dental assistant is a great starting point for people who want to become an expanded function dental assistant, dental hygienist, licensed dentist, dental laboratory technician, and even an educator. Each of these programs offer different career paths and levels of education depending on your goals, so be sure to research which is the right fit for you.