Dental assistants prepare patients for treatment, sterilize instruments, and assist dentists during procedures. Online dental certificates are a flexible way for working professionals to enter or move up in a high-demand field. Dental assistant certificate online graduates make a median salary of $37,040, with the top 10% earning more than $52,000.

Dentists often hire more than one dental assistant. This allows them to see more patients in a day, and most dental assistant positions are full time. As the large baby boomer population ages and health professionals continue to stress the importance of good dental hygiene, the demand for trained professionals will continue to grow. The field is projected to grow 18% from 2014 to 2024, which translates to more than 50,000 jobs.

What are the best dental assistance certificate programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
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

What Are The Best Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Indianapolis, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

IUPUI's certificate in dental assistance features a 14-course, 30-credit curriculum that requires labs, lectures, and clinical experience. Students hone knowledge and skills related to oral pathology, dental materials, and clinical science. All learners select one of two elective courses.

Almost 85% of dental assisting students find employment shortly after graduation. Students can start their job hunt through IUPUI's internship opportunities. IUPUI's School of Dentistry offers additional resources, including a private job board.

Admission requirements include a minimum 2.0 high school or undergraduate GPA. IUPUI online programs do not charge out-of-state tuition. The university only awards financial aid to students in the program after they complete the program's course prerequisites.


Lake Area Technical Institute

Watertown, SD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

LATI's online certificate in dental assistance uses a hybrid curriculum in which students spend 12 days per semester completing labs on LATI's Watertown, South Dakota campus. The program's 44-credit curriculum includes coursework in applied psychology, dental radiography, and orthodontics. Learners have the option of earning an associate degree by taking additional online courses.

Program alumni report a 99% employment rate. LATI encourages positive academic and career outcomes by offering guides that cover online learning best practices and IT troubleshooting.

Admission requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores, and LATI accepts ACT scores for financial aid purposes. In addition to tuition, learners pay for uniforms and laboratory tools. Students can finance the certificate by applying for federal grants and loans.


Sinclair Community College

Dayton, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 27%

Students who enroll in Sinclair's certificate in dental assistance program spend 1-2 days per week completing labs on the college's Dayton, Ohio, campus. Required courses in the 17-credit curriculum include basic life support for healthcare providers, dental assisting office management, and lab dental assisting radiography.

Sinclair's dental assistance program prepares graduates to sit for the Ohio certification exam. As students prepare for the exam, they can access Career Connection and Focus2Career software to explore job openings throughout the state.

Applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA in all high school or undergraduate courses. Montgomery County residents pay the lowest per-credit tuition rate at Sinclair. Learners can apply for institutional financial aid by submitting the Sinclair Online Scholarship Application.


Eastern Iowa Community Colleges

Davenport, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 35%

EICC's online certificate in dental assistance features a hybrid curriculum in which learners intern at the Veterans Affairs Dental Clinic in Davenport. The 46-credit curriculum includes coursework in the principles of dental assisting, dental office procedures, and dental science.

EICC's online resources include resume critiques, an interview preparation guide, and a job board. The college's website also provides learners with links to resume-writing best practices and a manual that covers how to create an online brand that attracts employers' attention.

Admission requirements include active health insurance and the results of a recent physical examination. Hybrid learners pay a slightly higher tuition rate than other in-state students.


Hudson Valley Community College

Troy, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 30%

Hudson Valley Community College's certificate in dental assistance program prepares students for a fulfilling career in New York. Graduation requirements include 27 credits and a 225-hour clinical internship. The program features coursework in dental office procedures, dental assisting, and radiology.

The college connects learners with job databases, interviewing tips, and interest inventories. As such, 95% of alumni either find employment or transfer into a bachelor's program.

Admission requirements include GED scores or high school transcripts, FAFSA results, and a placement test. All incoming learners also complete a virtual orientation session. Hudson Valley Community College's Our Opportunities website allows students to apply for institutional scholarships.

What Else can I Expect From an Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Program?


Dental assistant certificate programs online share many similarities. Courses will vary between schools, but the list below will give you an idea of what courses you can expect to take.

  • Oral Anatomy: Students are introduced to anatomy as it pertains to dental and orthodontic work. They learn the location and function of nerves, muscles, and other structures found in the head, neck, and face. Facial and oral anatomy is an essential course.
  • Oral Radiology: This course teaches aspiring dental assistants how a dental x-ray unit works, and how to operate one. Students learn about the components of the x-ray unit and about safety precautions and the history of radiology. Taking x-rays is one of the primary jobs of dental, orthodontic, and oral surgery assistants.
  • Chairside Assisting: Students learn how to assist dentists with procedures. Learners are introduced to dental equipment and instruments and learn how to perform four-handed procedures. These courses often cover chairside assisting in surgical, orthodontic, and dental settings.
  • Dental Materials: This course covers dental instruments and the ways in which they are typically organized in an office. Students are instructed on the various types of dental equipment and their uses. The course also provides instruction on the types of glues and cements used in dental work and the role a dental assistant plays in working with these materials.


If you are interested in completing a dental assistant certificate program online, you should consider how much time you are willing to commit to earning a certificate. It can take between six months and one year to complete a certificate program. Some programs are hybrid, meaning they require on-campus visits for labs and demonstrations. The schedule and flexibility of these visits can affect the amount of time your program will take.

Some dental assistant certificate programs are individually paced, while others are taught through a cohort learning format. Individual programs allow you to complete courses and assignments at your own pace. Cohort learning programs require that you work at the same pace as the rest of your class. There are benefits to both types of learning, but cohort programs typically take longer to complete.

What Can I Do With a Dental Assistant Diploma?

A certificate or diploma is a great way to acquire job training that will quickly prepare you to enter the workforce. A degree is generally more expensive and takes more time to complete than a certificate or diploma. Degrees typically include coursework that is not career-focused. Diploma and certificate programs are best for students who do not plan to pursue higher education.


Completing a dental assistant certificate program does not mean that you have to pursue a career as a dental assistant. A certificate in dental assistance opens the door to a variety of career paths. Graduates are prepared to work alongside dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons.

Dental Assistant

Dental assistants prepare patients for dental work and assist dentists during procedures. They play an essential role in any dentist's office by providing assistance during complicated procedures and by doing some administrative work.
Median Annual Salary: $34,000

Orthodontic Assistant

Orthodontic assistants take x-rays and impressions and prepare patients for the orthodontist. They help out during procedures and clean and organize equipment.
Median Annual Salary: $38,000

Oral Surgery Assistant

Oral surgery assistants do similar work to dental and orthodontic assistants, but in a surgical setting. They prepare the patient for surgery and sterilize all necessary instruments. They also assist during procedures and make sure the patient leaves with all the information they need.
Median Annual Salary: $38,000


Some students who finish their dental assistant certificate online choose to continue their studies to acquire more training, which increases their earning potential. Dental hygienists earn an average of around $67,000 per year, nearly double what dental assistants make. Credits from dental assistant certificate programs online may transfer to associate programs in dental hygienics.

  • Associate in Dental Hygiene: Dental hygiene students learn about oral hygiene and health and how to perform certain procedures. Dental hygienists clean teeth and gums and administer local anesthesia.

Accreditation for Certificate and Diploma Programs

Accreditation ensures that your degree, certificate, or diploma meets certain standards. If a school is accredited, that means it has passed a rigorous academic review process. Some programs are regionally accredited, while others are nationally accredited. Traditional four-year universities are typically regionally accredited, while career-focused schools are usually nationally accredited.

Popular accrediting agencies specific to the dental field are the Commission on Dental Accreditation and the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. It is important to ensure that your program and school is accredited. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation's website includes a database of accredited schools.

Financing Your Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Program

If you are interested in completing a dental assistant certificate online, it is important to compare tuition rates. While dental assistant certificate programs online are not as expensive as degrees, they are still a financial burden. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if you are eligible for federal financial aid. There are also scholarship opportunities available. The American Dental Association Foundation offers $850,000 in grants and scholarships each year to dental students.


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