Best Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Programs
Our experts at BestColleges have ranked the top online dental assistance certificates. Read on to compare schools by cost, convenience, and academic quality to learn more about your potential path forward.
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Dental assistants perform tasks in a dental office, including cleaning and preparing work stations and equipment, educating patients on proper oral care, and assisting dentists with various procedures. Assistants may also handle administrative duties, such as billing, scheduling, and record-keeping. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 7% growth for dental assistants between 2019 and 2029.
For employment, dental assistants typically need a dental assistance certificate from an accredited program. They can then pursue national certification through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) — a credential that some employers and states require.
Read on for more information about online dental assistance certificates and related careers.
What Are the Best Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Programs? Here Are Our Top Five:
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|#1||Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN|
|#2||Lake Area Technical Institute Watertown, SD|
|#3||Sinclair Community College Dayton, OH|
|#4||Eastern Iowa Community Colleges Davenport, IA|
|#5||Hudson Valley Community College Troy, NY|
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Best Accredited Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Programs
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What Can I Expect From an Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Program?
The accessibility of dental assisting makes it attractive for working professionals looking for a quick career change or students looking to enter an in-demand field.
While the exact format varies by program, most dental assistance certificates take less than a year to complete. Online learning may accelerate completion times, but students should be aware of any internship or in-person lab components that may require campus visits.
The accessibility of dental assisting makes the field attractive for working professionals looking for a quick career change or students looking to enter an in-demand field. Aspiring dental assistants typically possess strong communication and organizational skills.
Most dental assistance programs award a certificate or a diploma, although some lead to an associate degree. Two-year associate programs typically prepare students for the same careers, but they can also provide the foundation for further study. For example, some graduates may go on to pursue a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene.
In some certificate programs, learners can pursue concentrations like radiography, oral surgery, and infection control, which can improve job prospects in those fields and help with accompanying certification exams.
Not all states and employers require national certification or licensure, so students should be sure to understand their local requirements. Some states allow dental assistants to perform specialized tasks like taking X-rays, which typically requires a national credential. Students should ensure their program meets the eligibility requirements in their state.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Program?
The exact classes in a dental assistance certificate program may vary depending on the program and location. However, most programs familiarize students with the anatomy of the mouth and the instruments that assistants use on the job. In states that require national certification and licensure, programs may feature more specialized training.
Students in this course learn dental terminology and how to use the major materials, equipment, and tools in a dental office. They also learn about the concepts behind materials and instruments, as well as any related safety concerns. Covered topics often include waxes, gypsums, metals, and acrylics.
This course examines the dental structure and teaches students to identify primary dentitions, typical oral anatomy, and facial bones. Learners also delve into common diagnoses and treatments for diseases and study how preventative and restorative oral care can fix and prevent issues.
In this course, students examine the typical role of a dental office administrator, learning how to manage scheduling, insurance claims, and inventory. Learners may also study administrative software.
Radiography courses teach students how to take intraoral and extraoral X-rays. Participants learn how to process images efficiently and safely.
This course prepares learners to treat and prevent infection in a dental setting. Students learn about various microorganisms and infections and what causes them. They also learn to properly sterilize equipment.
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What Can I Do With an Online Certificate in Dental Assistance?
The BLS projects 7% job growth for dental assistants between 2019 and 2029. During the same period, the BLS projects that related careers (e.g., dental hygienist and dental laboratory technician) will also grow faster than the average occupation in the U.S.
As the field expands, aspiring dental assistants with proper training and postsecondary credentials should enjoy ample career opportunities, even in states that do not require postsecondary education or national certification.
Learn more about dental careers and find out what you need to do to succeed in this growing field.
Dental assistants support dentists in many ways, including cleaning, sterilizing, and handing them equipment. They also prepare patients for procedures and provide them with oral care instructions. In some states, dental assistants can also process X-rays.
Dental hygienists look for signs of oral diseases in patients and teach them how to prevent and treat various conditions. They also clean teeth, perform X-rays, and apply various oral care materials. This position typically requires an associate degree.
Dental laboratory technicians work with dental appliances and devices in various ways, such as by fitting or fixing dentures or other oral prosthetics. They often receive teeth impressions from patients to create crowns or bridges to fit the mouth.
Dental office administrators oversee many tasks within a dentist office, including meeting with patients, scheduling appointments, and processing insurance claims. They also record and maintain patient records in a computer database.
Administrative service managers manage the daily operations of a large dental office or clinic. They supervise and train staff, oversee finances, and ensure that equipment and materials stay up to date and well-stocked.
Steps to Become a Dental Assistant
Below is a step-by-step guide to becoming a dental assistant. These steps include general requirements, but specific education requirements vary by state. Some states do not require dental assistants to enroll in postsecondary school.
1. Obtain a high school or GED diploma.
2. Enroll in a dental assisting program at a technical school or an associate degree program.
3. Pass a dental assistant exam, if required in your state.
4. Continue education through on-the-job training, usually by working at a dental office under the mentorship of a dentist.
5. Earn certification from the Dental Assisting National Board if desired, allowing for expanded duties.
How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make?
According to BLS, dental assistants made a median annual salary of $41,180 in May 2020. The average salary for this position varies by state, with the top 10% earning over $58,000. The highest-paying states for dental assistants are Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Alaska.
Jobs for these professionals are projected to grow by 11% between 2020-2030, which is above average. This equals about 44,000 new dental assistant openings every year.
Obtaining an associate degree can increase your chances of becoming a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists must pass a written and clinical exam to become eligible for licensure. As of May 2020, they made a median annual salary of $77,090.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Online Dental Assistance Programs
Becoming a dental assistant can take anywhere from 1-2 years. Most technical school programs last between a few months to a year. Associate degree programs typically take two years. On-the-job training is expected for those new to the role.
If you want to continue to advance your career, you may want to look into becoming a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists typically need an associate degree and a year of clinical training. Dental hygiene programs usually last around three years in total. All states require dental hygienists to be licensed, which involves completing a dental hygienist program and passing an examination.
According to Delta Technical College, the cost for dental assistance programs varies depending on the state and type of program. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2019-20 academic year was $3,800 at two-year public schools. Be sure to compare the cost of online vs. in person programs when doing your research.
Some dental offices do not require dental assistants to have completed postsecondary school. However, as programs often last only a year and cost much less than a four-year degree, pursuing this education may be worth it.
Yes. Online technical schools are an excellent option for those who have caregiving responsibilities, work part time, or need to work from home. Many online programs offer self-paced courses, allowing students to train in a vocational trade at their own speed.
U.S. Career Institute offers a 100% online program for those hoping to become dental assistants. The program takes only five months to complete and prepares students to take the Registered Dental Assistant exam. Students can also choose to follow a self-paced format.
Both CDA and RDA certifications can lead to careers as dental assistants. The major difference involves prerequisites and maintenance. The RDA designation requires an accredited dental assistance certificate, diploma, or associate degree, while the CDA is more flexible. RDA-holders need to complete regular continuing education.
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