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Dental Assistant Vocational Schools

Dental assistants are in more demand than ever. Dentists are increasingly relying on their assistants to handle routine aspects of their practice like settling patients into the exam chair, sterilizing the instruments, processing x-rays and maintaining dental records. In some states, dental assistants with the proper certification can handle more complex tasks like coronal polishing and fluoride treatments.

Dental assistant vocational, trade and technical schools can prepare you to work in a variety of settings -- from an oral surgeon's office to a pediatric dental clinic. Pursuing nationally recognized qualifications or an area of specialization can help you find the right fit for your career in this growing field.

Dental assisting specializations

The majority of dental assistants work in regular dental offices or clinics and therefore concentrate their training on general dentistry. However, there are opportunities to specialize in this field. In order to work in a dental specialty, your state or your employer may require additional training or certification.

Some dental assistant schools offer students the ability to receive specialized training. Others may offer training rotations that allow you to experience several specialty areas over the course of your schooling. In addition to general dentistry, specialties for dental assistants include:

  • Pediatrics: specializing in children and families
  • Orthodontics: specializing in incorrect bites due to irregularities in teeth or the jaw
  • Periodontics: specializing in gums, membranes, and bones that support teeth and the treatment and prevention of periodontal disease
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery: specializing in jaw, mouth or face surgery including plastic surgery, dental implants or oral cancer
  • Endodontics: specializing in dental pulp as in the case of root canals or cracked teeth

Dental assisting certifications and degrees

Depending on your state regulations and your employer's expectations, requirements for becoming a dental assistant range from a high school diploma and on-the-job training to a one-year certificate or a two-year associate's degree. High school classes in biology, anatomy and chemistry can help prepare students for a career in dental assisting.

Dental assistant vocational schools provide more specialized courses like oral anatomy where you'll learn about teeth, jaws and gums. Courses in chair-side assisting will teach you about dental tools and terminology. Some dental assisting schools offer classes in dental science, dental materials and radiology in addition to office skills including computing and communications. Laboratory classes and supervised practice offer hands-on dental assisting experience.

Some states require dental assistants to be certified, and some employers simply prefer to higher certified assistants. To check what's necessary for your state, the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB.org) lists specific state-by-state requirements.

To be eligible for certification, you must have completed a program from an accredited dental assisting school and be CPR certified. Alternatively, you may have a high school diploma along with 3,500 of approved work experience. For specialized certifications, check DANB's exam eligibility criteria.

DANB offers four broad certifications that can prepare you to specialize or gain a greater degree of responsibility on the job.

  • Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam covers general chair-side assisting, radiation health and safety, and infection control.
  • Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) covers orthodontic assisting and infection control.
  • Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA) covers coronal polishing, sealants, topical anesthetic and topical floride.
  • Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA) covers anatomy, morphology and physiology, impressions, temporaries, isolations, sealants, and restorative functions.

DANB also offers more targeted certifications, components of the broader certifications, which can often be taken with few or no prerequisites. Those include:

  • Infection Control (ICE)
  • Sealants (SE)
  • Impressions (IE)
  • Anatomy, Morphology and Physiology (AMP)
  • Coronal Polishing (CP)

Dental assisting salary and career outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), dental assistants in the U.S. earned a median annual wage of $34,900, or $16.78 an hour, in May 2013. The top 10 percent earned at least $48,350 a year, while the lowest 10 percent earned up to $22,220. New Hampshire was top-paying state for dental assistants, with mean annual wages of $43,810, with Alaska and Minnesota coming in 2nd and 3rd.

The BLS paints strong employment picture for dental assistants, with 25 percent growth predicted through 2022. This growth is driven in large part by improved access to health care.

Finding the right fit

Varying degrees of responsibility exist within the field of dental assisting and may depend your on specific certifications and areas of specialization. Pursuing additional certifications and specialties can help you target your career and may help you find the job that best fits your interests and abilities.

Sources:

Certified Dental Assistant, Exams and Certifications, Dental Assisting National Board, Inc., http://www.danb.org/Become-Certified/Exams-and-Certifications.aspx

Dental Assistant, American Dental Association, 2014, http://www.ada.org/en/home-ada/education-careers/careers-in-dentistry/dental-team-careers/dental-assistant

Dental Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319091.htm

Dental Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm

Dental Assistant Vocational Schools
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Explore a new career with Pima Medical Institute.

Programs : Dental Assistant, Medical Assistant, and more..

Campus Locations :

Seattle: 9709 Third Avenue NE Suite 400 Seattle, WA 98115

Renton: 555 S. Renton Village Place Suite 400 Renton, WA 98057

Las Vegas: 3333 E. Flamingo Road Las Vegas, NV 89121

Houston: 10201 Katy Freeway Houston, TX 77024

Chula Vista: 780 Bay Blvd #101 Chula Vista, CA 91910

Mesa: 957 S. Dobson Road Mesa, AZ 85202

Denver: 7475 Dakin Street Suite 100 Denver, CO 80221

Colorado Springs: 3770 Citadel Drive North Colorado Springs, CO 80909

Albuquerque: 4400 Cutler Avenue NE Albuquerque, NM 87110

Tucson: 3350 E. Grant Road Tucson, AZ 85716

Get a hands-on, job-specific education at Lincoln College of Technology.

Programs : Dental Assistant, Medical Assistant, and more..

Campus Locations :

West Palm Beach: 2410 Metrocentre Blvd West Palm Beach, FL 33407

Melrose Park: 8317 W. North Avenue Melrose Park, IL 60160

Marietta: 2359 Windy Hill Road Marietta, GA 30067

Westwood College is dedicated to preparing students with the knowledge, skills and training needed for meaningful employment. Through education, we create opportunities, change lives and impact futures.

Programs : Dental Assisting (A), Healthcare Office Administration (A), Medical Assisting (D), and more..

Campus Locations :

Arlington: 1901 North Ft. Myer Arlington, VA 22209

Denver: 7350 North Broadway Denver, CO 80221

Upland: 20 West 7th Street Upland, CA 91786

Atlanta: 2309 Parklake Drive NE Atlanta, GA 30345

Woodridge: 7155 Janes Ave Woodridge, IL 60517

Calumet City: 80 River Oaks Center Calumet City, IL 60409

Torrance: 19700 S. Vermont Ave. Suite 100 Torrance, CA 90502

Los Angeles: 3250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 400 Los Angeles, CA 90010

Annandale: 7619 Little River Turnpike Suite 500 Annandale, VA 22003

Chicago: 8501 W. Higgins Road Chicago, IL 60631

Anaheim: 1551 S. Douglass Road Anaheim, CA 92806

Sanford-Brown can help prepare you for a rewarding career in health and dental care, business, paralegal, criminal justice, Design & Media Arts or information technology.

Programs : Certificate in Dental Assisting, Diploma in Dental Assisting with Expanded Functions, Diploma in Medical Assistant, and more..

Campus Locations :

Tampa: 7702 Woodland Center Blvd., Suite 100 Tampa, FL 33614

Dallas: 1250 Mockingbird Lane Dallas, TX 75247

Jacksonville: 10255 Fortune Pkwy #501, Jacksonville, FL 32256

Atlanta: 1140 Hammond Drive, Suite A-11 Atlanta, GA 30328

Advance your career with our affordable, self-paced, career-focused distance education programs.

Programs : Dental Assistant, and more..

Campus Locations :

Scranton: Scranton, PA 18501

Start a great career in healthcare with Medical Careers Institute.

Programs : Dental Assisting - Associate, Medical Assisting - Associate, and more..

Campus Locations :

Newport News: 1001 Omni Boulevard Suite #200 Newport News, VA 23606

Virginia Beach: 5501 Greenwich Road Suite #100 Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Henrico: 2809 Emerywood Parkway Suite #400 Henrico, VA 23294

North Charleston: 7410 Northside Drive #G101 North Charleston, SC 29420

Charlotte: 124 Floyd Smith Drive Charlotte, NC 28262

At Concorde, you’ll find that a “learn by doing” approach to healthcare training will get you the skills you need to succeed-- and get you into the workforce quickly.

Programs : Dental Assistant, Dental Hygiene - (AAS), Dental Hygiene - (AS), and more..

Campus Locations :

Tampa: 4202 West Spruce Tampa, FL 33607

Garden Grove: 12951 Euclid Street Ste. 101 Garden Grove, CA 92840

Aurora: 111 Havana Aurora, CO 80010

Get a hands-on, job-specific education at Lincoln Technical Institute.

Programs : Dental Assistant, Medical Office Assistant, Medical Assistant Technology, and more..

Campus Locations :

Brockton: 375 Westgate Drive Brockton, MA 02301

Lowell: 211 Plain Street Lowell, MA 01852

Casselberry: 7275 Estapona Circle Casselberry, FL 32730

Lincoln: Lincoln Mall 622 George Washington Highway Lincoln, RI 02865

Somerville: 5 Middlesex Ave Somerville, MA 02145

Philadelphia: 2180 Hornig Road Philadelphia, PA 19116

Allentown: 5151 Tilghman Street Allentown, PA 18104

Edison: 1697 Oak Tree Road Edison, NJ 08820

New Britain: 200 John Downey Drive New Britain, CT 06051

Mount Laurel: 1000 Howard Boulevard Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

Paramus: 160 E. Route 4 Paramus, NJ 07652

Shelton: 8 Progress Drive Shelton, CT 06484

Get hands-on training with Remington College.

Programs : Diploma in Dental Assisting, AAS in Clinical Medical Assisting, Diploma in Medical Assisting with X-Ray Tech (Limited Scope), and more..

Campus Locations :

Houston: 11310 Greens Crossing Houston, TX 77041

Cleveland: 14445 Broadway Avenue Cleveland, OH 44125

Nashville: 441 Donelson Pike Nashville, TN 37214

Tampa: 2410 E. Busch Boulevard Tampa, FL 33612

Fort Worth: 300 East Loop 820 Fort Worth, TX 76112

Little Rock: 19 Remington Road Little Rock, AR 72204

Honolulu: 1111 Bishop Street Suite 400 Honolulu, HI 96813

Shreveport: 2106 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop Shreveport, LA 71118

Baton Rouge: 1900 N. Lobdell Baton Rouge, LA 70806

Memphis: 2710 Nonconnah Blvd. Memphis, TN 38132

Garland: 1800 Eastgate Drive Garland, TX 75041

Lafayette: 303 Rue Louis XIV Lafayette, LA 70508

Columbia: 607 Bush River Road Columbia, SC 29210

Mobile: 828 Downtowner Loop West Mobile, AL 36609

Prepare for an exciting new career at the Milan Institute.

Programs : Registered Dental Assistant, Dental Assistant, Administrative Medical Assistant, and more..

Campus Locations :

Las Vegas: 710 South Tonopah Drive Las Vegas, NV 89106

Sparks: 950 Industrial Way Sparks, NV 89431

Visalia: 3356 South Fairway Visalia, CA 93277

Nampa: 1021 West Hemingway Nampa, ID 83651

Palm Desert: 75-030 Gerald Ford Drive Suite 203 Palm Desert, CA 92211

Amarillo: 7001 W Interstate 40 Amarillo, TX 79106

Bakersfield: 2822 F Street Bakersfield, CA 93301

Clovis: 731 W. Shaw Ave Clovis, CA 93612

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