Becoming a dental assistant is a great career choice that doesn’t require a college degree. But how long does it take to become a dental assistant? Depending on your schedule and dedication to your courses, certification can take less than a year. In some cases, students are able to complete their training in only a few months.
How long is dental assistant training? CareerStep’s dental assistant training is designed to take 270 hours to complete. Unlike other programs that have a strict schedule and pacing, CareerStep’s certification courses allow you to complete them at your own pace and speed. This gives you the flexibility to work your certification around your other life responsibilities and become a dental assistant in the way most convenient for you.
How to Become a Certified Dental Assistant
If you want to become a certified dental assistant, you have to finish a training program. Once you finish your courses, a professional externship is included to give you hands-on practice in the dental care field and can be used as experience on your resume. This physical training consists of 120 hours at a dental office, which will allow you to work with and observe the dentist and staff. Once you are finished with your training and externship, you will be able to enter the field and work as a dental assistant.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
The duties of a dental assistant are some of the most comprehensive and diverse in a dental office. These responsibilities can include:
- Assisting the dentist in select procedures
- Taking and developing dental x-rays
- Collecting patients’ medical histories
- Taking a patient’s blood pressure and pulse
- Instructing patients in the care and management of their teeth after surgery
- Taking impressions of patients’ teeth
- Performing digital office management tasks
- Helping with direct patient care in all dental specialties including oral surgery, periodontics, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontics
Do Dental Assistants Clean Teeth?
Dental assistants do not clean teeth and should not be confused with dental hygienists. They are not licensed or certified to remove plaque or other calcareous deposits from a patient’s teeth. A dental assistant is able to help with other procedures, patient education, and care, but they are not able to clean teeth.
How Much Do Dental Assistants Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for a dental assistant is $18.59 an hour, or $38,660 a year. These numbers are not exact figures as they can change depending on location and experience.
Is Dental Assisting a Good Career Choice?
Choosing to become a dental assistant is a great career choice. Not only does it provide you with the opportunity to work with patients and help them with their oral health, but it is projected to be a job with high growth and demand in the next decade.
Another great aspect of becoming a dental assistant is that it allows you mobility in your life. If you choose to move to a different state, your experience, training, and certifications can help you find a job at a new dentist’s office and continue your career. After all, people need access to quality dental care all over the country, regardless of city or state.
As a dental assistant, you can work for a wide variety of dental offices. Dental assistants often work for family dentistry practices, but they can also work for endodontists, maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, pediatric dentists, periodontists, or prosthodontists.
With CareerStep’s dental assistant program, you can be qualified to work in any of these offices in under a year.