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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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Heald College provides hands-on educational programs that can help students prepare for careers in the healthcare, business, legal and technology fields.

Programs : Dental Assisting, Medical Office Administration, Medical Assisting, and more..

Campus Locations :

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Concord: 5130 Commercial Circle Concord, CA 94520

Stockton: 1605 East March Lane Stockton, CA 95210

Roseville: 7 Sierra Gate Plaza Roseville, CA 95678

Salida: 5260 Pirrone Court Salida, CA 95368

Honolulu: 1500 Kapiolani Boulevard Honolulu, HI 96814

Hayward: 25500 Industrial Boulevard Hayward, CA 94545

San Francisco: 350 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94105

Milpitas: 341 Great Mall Parkway Milpitas, CA 95035

Fresno: 255 West Bullard Avenue Fresno, CA 93704

Salinas: 1450 N. Main Street Salinas, CA 93906

Rancho Cordova: 2910 Prospect Park Drive Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

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

Marietta: 2359 Windy Hill Road Marietta, GA 30067

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

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

Campus Locations :

Tampa: 2410 E. Busch Boulevard Tampa, FL 33612

Cleveland: 14445 Broadway Avenue Cleveland, OH 44125

Houston: 11310 Greens Crossing Houston, TX 77067

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

Nashville: 441 Donelson Pike Nashville, TN 37214

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

Little Rock: 19 Remington Road Little Rock, AR 72204

Memphis: 2710 Nonconnah Blvd. Memphis, TN 38132

Lafayette: 303 Rue Louis XIV Lafayette, LA 70508

Columbia: 607 Bush River Road Columbia, SC 29210

Shreveport: 2106 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop Shreveport, LA 71118

Mobile: 828 Downtowner Loop West Mobile, AL 36609

Honolulu: 1111 Bishop Street Suite 400 Honolulu, HI 96813

Garland: 1800 Eastgate Drive Garland, TX 75041

Leave that dead-end job behind with training from Everest College.

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San Francisco: 814 Mission Street Ste. 500 San Francisco, CA 94103

Chesapeake: 825 Greenbier Circle #100 Suite 100 Chesapeake, VA 23320

Colorado Springs: 1815 Jet Wing Drive Colorado Springs, CO 80916

LA Puente: 12801 Crossroads Parkway South LA Puente, CA 91746

Los Angeles: 3460 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 500 Los Angeles, CA 90010

Everett: 906 SE Everett Mall Way Suite 600 Everett, WA 98208

Renton: 981 Powell Ave. SW Ste. 200 Renton, WA 98057

Atlanta: 2841 Greenbriar Parkway SW Atlanta, GA 30331

Alhambra: 2215 W. Mission Road Alhambra, CA 91803

Reseda: 18040 Sherman Way Ste. 400 Reseda, CA 91335

Aurora: 14280 E. Jewell Ave. Ste 100 Aurora, CO 80012

Anaheim: 511 North Brookhurst Suite 300 Anaheim, CA 92801

Gardena: 1045 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. Suite 275 Gardena, CA 90247

Ontario: 1460 S. Millikin Avenue Ontario, CA 91761

Kansas City: 1740 W. 92nd Street Kansas City, MO 64114

San Bernardino: 217 E. Club Center Drive Suite A San Bernardino, CA 92408

Springfield: 1010 West Sunshine Springfield, MO 65807

Bremerton: 155 Washington Avenue Suite 200 Bremerton, WA 98337

Woodbridge: 14555 Potomac Mills Road Woodbridge, VA 22192

Tacoma: 2156 Pacific Ave. Tacoma, WA 98402

Seattle: 2111 N. Northgate Way Suite 218 Seattle, WA 98133

Santa Ana: 500 W. Santa Ana Blvd. Santa Ana, CA 92703

Portland: 425 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97204

Denver: 9065 Grant St. Denver, CO 80229

Torrance: 1231 Cabrillo Avenue Ste. 201 Torrance, CA 90501

Vancouver: 120 N.E. 136th Ave Ste. 130 Vancouver, WA 98684

Dallas: 6060 N. Central Expressway Dallas, TX 75206

Henderson: 170 N. Stephanie Street 1st Floor Henderson, NV 89074

Arlington: 2801 E. Division Street Suite 250 Arlington, TX 76011

Newport News: 803 Diligence Dr. Newport News, VA 23606

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Denver: 7350 North Broadway Denver, CO 80221

Arlington: 1901 North Ft. Myer Arlington, VA 22209

Chicago: 8501 W. Higgins Road Chicago, IL 60631

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

Upland: 20 West 7th Street Upland, CA 91786

Atlanta: 2309 Parklake Drive NE Atlanta, GA 30345

Woodridge: 7155 Janes Ave Woodridge, IL 60517

Anaheim: 1551 S. Douglass Road Anaheim, CA 92806

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manassas: 10021 Balls Ford Road #100 Manassas, VA 20109

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

Charlotte: 4800 Airport Center Parkway #100 Charlotte, NC 28208

Greensboro: 7802 Airport Center Drive Greensboro, NC 27409

Greenville: 1001 Keys Drive #100 Greenville, SC 29615

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Norcross: Norcross, GA

Prepare for an exciting new career at the Milan Institute.

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

Sparks: 950 Industrial Way Sparks, NV 89431

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

Amarillo: 7001 W Interstate 40 Amarillo, TX 79106

Nampa: 1021 West Hemingway Nampa, ID 83651

Visalia: 3356 South Fairway Visalia, CA 93277

Bakersfield: 2822 F Street Bakersfield, CA 93301

Clovis: 731 W. Shaw Ave Clovis, CA 93612

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Scranton: Scranton, PA 18501

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