You don't need a college degree to be a dental assistant. However, some states require a degree from an accredited dental program. Or, you may be asked to pass a certification test from the National Dental Assistance Board. As with most professions, dental care has several different career paths.
The two main pathways are achieved by earning an associate's degree or a certificate in dental care. The educational and professional requirements for dental care vary from state to state, and professionals may have a degree and certificate in dental care. After completing their education and passing the required certifications, dental assistants perform a variety of essential functions. In the following guide on how to become a dental assistant, you'll learn about the steps needed to become a dental assistant, the training programs available, the components of a successful career, salary data, and general job prospects.
Many vocational and technical colleges, vocational schools, and community colleges have online dental assistant programs if you're looking for an education outside of a physical campus. Dental assistants often act as the dentist's second pair of hands, meaning they must have a nuanced understanding of the patient's professional care and have an excellent attitude toward the dentist. Dental care is a popular career option for many reasons, including job stability, quick entry into the workforce, and the ability to help others. While online dental assistance programs are attractive for a variety of reasons, you should do your research to ensure that potential schools meet certain standards of academic excellence.
As the patient progresses through the service cycle, dental assistants must pay close attention to details as they collect and enter medical histories and important data. Are you considering training as a physical therapist assistant (PTA) or occupational therapy assistant? A dental assistance program can take between nine months and two years to complete, depending on whether it's a certificate, diploma, or bachelor's degree program. Just as doctors and other direct care providers are expected to have excellent bedside manners, dental assistants must understand how to provide professional and compassionate care to patients. While experience level and geographic location affect salaries, becoming a dental assistant can be both professionally and financially rewarding.
In many cases, these programs are designed for dental assistants who are already working in a similar capacity and who have received on-the-job training but want to complete more academic courses. In addition to classroom teaching, most dental assistant schools offer hands-on learning opportunities in a clinical setting. If you are pursuing a career as a dental assistant, you have several educational pathways available through school for dental assistance, and the decisive factor is generally based on the possibility of continuing your studies. Dental assistant programs that offer two-year associate degrees are an excellent option for beginning professionals with a high school diploma or GED who want to gain knowledge, clinical experience, and enter the workforce within two years.