Dental assistants play a vital role in the allied health industry helping dentists and their patients. The path to a career in dental assisting depends on the state and type of practice one works in. Some people train on the job, while others complete dental assistant programs. In order to meet employer or state mandates, or to improve their career opportunities, many dental assistants also become certified, licensed, or registered.
What Is the Role of a Dental Assistant?
While dental assistant job duties can vary with the type of dental office and state where they work, these allied health professionals are usually responsible for either assisting dentists with patient treatments or performing clerical duties in the front office. In many cases, dental assistants do a combination of clinical and clerical work.
How Long Does It Take to Be a Dental Assistant?
The time it takes to become a dental assistant depends on the specific steps one takes to the career. In some states, it may be possible to enter the field after high school, and in others, it will be necessary to take additional steps, such as formal dental assistant training at a post-secondary institution and certification or licensing.
Dental Assistant Career Path
|Step 1||GED or High School Diploma||Career-Relevant Courses: Anatomy, Biology & Chemistry||3 Months to 4 Years|
|Step 2||Dental Assistant Training||Post-Secondary Institution or On-the-Job Training||9 Months to 2 Years|
or Varies with Employer
|Step 3||Dental Assistant Certification||Pass 3 DANB Exams:|
General Chairside Assisting (GC), Radiation Health & Safety (RHS) & Infection Control (ICE)
|Time to Meet Eligibility Requirements Varies, Plus|
4 Hours for Exams
|Step 4||Dental Assistant License||Meet State Licensing Requirements & Pass Exam||Varies by State|
|Step 5||Dental Assistant Registration||Meet State Registration Requirements & Pass Exam||Varies by State|
Midwest Technical Institute (MTI) offers 9-month dental assistant training at its campuses in:
- Moline, Illinois
- Springfield, Illinois
- East Peoria, Illinois
- Springfield, Missouri
MTI prepares its students for the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Radiology Health & Safety (RHS) and Infection Control (ICE) exams. Those who wish to complete the certification process will need to meet relevant work experience requirements and pass the General Chairside Assisting (GC) exam.
How Long Is Dental Assistant School?
Dental assistant training can take months or years, depending on the post-secondary educational institution. Vocational schools and community colleges are two common places to receive allied health training in dental assisting.
|Community College||Vocational School|
|Program Duration||Varies; typically 2 years for an associate’s degree||9 to 12 Months|
|Coursework||Courses Similar to Vocational School Plus General Education Classes||Oral Anatomy, Office Administration, Radiography, Dental Equipment & More|
|Credential||Associate Degree||Certificate or Diploma|
|Considerations||More Time in School, But Credits May Transfer to Bachelor’s Degree Program||Career-Focused Training & Quicker Entry into the Dental Assisting Field|
Starting a Career as a Dental Assistant
How long it takes to become a dental assistant depends on several factors, including where an individual works; however, a high school diploma or GED and dental assisting training are the steps most people take. Additional steps, such as obtaining DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification, can improve career opportunities and compensation.
To discuss your dental assisting career goals with MTI, fill out the form below to contact the Admissions Team at your local campus.