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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 :

Stockton: 1605 East March Lane Stockton, CA 95210

Hayward: 25500 Industrial Boulevard Hayward, CA 94545

Honolulu: 1500 Kapiolani Boulevard Honolulu, HI 96814

Roseville: 7 Sierra Gate Plaza Roseville, CA 95678

Concord: 5130 Commercial Circle Concord, CA 94520

Portland: 6035 NE 78th Court Portland, OR 97218

Salida: 5260 Pirrone Court Salida, CA 95368

Salinas: 1450 N. Main Street Salinas, CA 93906

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

Fresno: 255 West Bullard Avenue Fresno, CA 93704

San Francisco: 350 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94105

Milpitas: 341 Great Mall Parkway Milpitas, CA 95035

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

Marietta: 2359 Windy Hill Road Marietta, GA 30067

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

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 :

Cleveland: 14445 Broadway Avenue Cleveland, OH 44125

Houston: 11310 Greens Crossing Houston, TX 77067

Tampa: 2410 E. Busch Boulevard Tampa, FL 33612

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

Mobile: 828 Downtowner Loop West Mobile, AL 36609

Little Rock: 19 Remington Road Little Rock, AR 72204

Columbia: 607 Bush River Road Columbia, SC 29210

Honolulu: 1111 Bishop Street Suite 400 Honolulu, HI 96813

Garland: 1800 Eastgate Drive Garland, TX 75041

Shreveport: 2106 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop Shreveport, LA 71118

Lafayette: 303 Rue Louis XIV Lafayette, LA 70508

Memphis: 2710 Nonconnah Blvd. Memphis, TN 38132

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

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 :

Denver: 7350 North Broadway Denver, CO 80221

Atlanta: 1100 Spring Street Suite 102 Atlanta, GA 30309

Prepare for an exciting new career at the Milan Institute.

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

Campus Locations :

Amarillo: 7001 W Interstate 40 Amarillo, TX 79106

Nampa: 1021 West Hemingway Nampa, ID 83651

Visalia: 3356 South Fairway Visalia, CA 93277

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

Sparks: 950 Industrial Way Sparks, NV 89431

Clovis: 731 W. Shaw Ave Clovis, CA 93612

Bakersfield: 2822 F Street Bakersfield, CA 93301

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

Programs : Dental Assistant, and more..

Campus Locations :

Scranton: Scranton, PA 18501

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

Programs : Diploma - Dental Assistant, Diploma - Medical Administrative Assistant, Associate of Applied Science - Medical Assistant, and more..

Campus Locations :

Atlanta: 2841 Greenbriar Parkway SW Atlanta, GA 30331

Woodbridge: 14555 Potomac Mills Road Woodbridge, VA 22192

Springfield: 1010 West Sunshine Springfield, MO 65807

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

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

Alhambra: 2215 W. Mission Road Alhambra, CA 91803

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

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

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

Ontario: 1460 S. Millikin Avenue Ontario, CA 91761

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

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

Los Angeles: 3000 S. Robertson Blvd. Ste. 300 Los Angeles, CA 90034

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

Anaheim: 511 North Brookhurst Suite 300 Anaheim, CA 92801

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

Bremerton: 155 Washington Avenue Suite 200 Bremerton, WA 98337

Tacoma: 2156 Pacific Ave. Tacoma, WA 98402

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

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

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

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

Portland: 425 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97204

Dallas: 6060 N. Central Expressway Dallas, TX 75206

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

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

Denver: 9065 Grant St. Denver, CO 80229

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

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

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

Get allied health training with Ross Medical Education Center.

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

Campus Locations :

Brighton: 8110 Murphy Drive Brighton, MI 48116

Fort Wayne: 4122 Lima Road Unit A5 Fort Wayne, IN 46805

Lansing: 4106 W. Saginaw Hwy. Lansing, MI 48917

Owensboro: 410 Southtown Blvd Suite 6 Owensboro, KS 42303

Grand Rapids: 4528 Breton SE Grand Rapids, MI 49508

Ann Arbor: 4741 Washtenaw Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Cincinnati: 11590 Century Blvd., Ste. 210 Cincinnati, OH 45246

New Baltimore: 51133 Birch Street Suite 100 New Baltimore, MI 48047

Madison Heights: 29429 John R Madison Heights, MI 48071

Muncie: 411 West Riggin Muncie, IN 47303

Dayton: 4490 Brandt Pike Dayton, OH 45424

Saginaw: 4300 Fashion Square Blvd. Suite 202 Saginaw, MI 48603

Evansville: 227 N Green River Rd Evansville, IN 47715

Erlanger: 600 Rodeo Drive, Ste. 2 Erlanger, KY 41018

Davison: 815 South State Street Davison, MI 48423

Granger: 445 E. University Drive Granger, IN 46530

Muskegon: 950 W. Norton Ave Suite D Muskegon, MI 49441

Portage: 6235 South Westnedge Portage, MI 49002

Johnson City: 3021 E. Oakland Ave. Johnson City, TN 37601

Niles: 5555 Youngstown-Warren Rd Unit 909 Niles, OH 44446

Sylvania: 5834 Monroe Street Suite F - J Sylvania, OH 43560

Charleston: 5707 MacCorkle Ave, SE, Suite 20 Charleston, WV 25304

Canton: 44958 Ford Road Canton, MI 48187

Flint: G3630 Miller Rd Suite D Flint, MI 48507

Taylor: 22311 Eureka Road Taylor, MI 48180

Mansfield: 2150 West 4TH Street Mansfield, OH 44906

Bowling Green: 1751 Scottsville Road, Suite 1 Bowling Green, KY 42104

Port Huron: 2887 Krafft Road Suite 700 Port Huron, MI 48060

Morgantown: 1064 Suncrest Towne Centre Drive Morgantown, WV 26505

At Fortis Institute, you may get the skills and training you need to prepare for a career. * Programs vary by location * Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information

Programs : Dental Assistant Program, Dental Assistant, Dental Assisting, and more..

Campus Locations :

Mobile: 3590 Pleasant Valley Road Mobile, AL 36609

Wayne: 201 Willowbrook Blvd. Wayne, NJ 07470

Norfolk: 6300 Center Drive, Suite 100 Norfolk, VA 23502

Salt Lake City: 3949 South 700 East Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Birmingham: 100 London Parkway Birmingham, AL 35211

Phoenix: 555 North 18th Street Ste. 110 Phoenix, AZ 85006

Orange Park: 560 Wells Road Orange Park, FL 32073

Port Saint Lucie: 9022 South US Highway 1 Port St. Lucie Port Saint Lucie, FL 34952

Houston: 450 N.Sam Houston Parkway Houston, TX 77060

Montgomery: 3736 Atlanta Highway Montgomery, AL 36109

Towson: 700 York Road Towson, MD 21204

Lawrence Township: 2572 Brunswick Pike Suite 100 Lawrence Township, NJ 08648

Erie: 5757 West 26th Street Erie, PA 16506

Scranton: 517 Ash Street Scranton, PA 18509

Columbia: 246 Stoneridge Drive Suite 101 Columbia, SC 29210

Indianapolis: 9001 N. Wesleyan Road Suite 101 Indianapolis, IN 46268

Smyrna: 21088 Cobb Parkway Smyrna, GA 30080

Dayton: 555 E. Alex-Bell Road Dayton, OH 45459

Pensacola: 4081 East Olive Road Suite B Pensacola, FL 32514

Hyattsville: 4351 Garden City Drive Hyattsville, MD 20785

Cuyahoga Falls: 2545 Bailey Road Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221

Windsor Mill: 6901 Security Blvd. Windsor Mill, MD 21244

West Palm Beach: West Palm Beach West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Grand Prairie: 401 E. Palace Parkway Suite 100 Grand Prairie, TX 75050

Westerville: 4151 Executive Parkway, Suite 240 Westerville, OH 43081

Ravenna: 653 Enterprise Parkway Ravenna, OH 44266

Kingston: 166 Slocum Street Kingston, PA 18704

Dothan: 200 Vulcan Way Dothan, AL 36303

Foley: 200 East Laurel Ave Foley, AL 36535

FORT LAUDERDALE: 4850 W. Oakland Park Blvd. Suite 200 FORT LAUDERDALE, FL 33313

Baton Rouge: 9255 Interline Ave. Baton Rouge, LA 70809

Largo: 6565 Ulmerton Road Largo, FL 33771

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