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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.

CareerAnnual Median WageProjected Employment ChangeProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Dentists, All Other Specialists1634504006
Dental Laboratory Technicians364401,0002
Dentists, General14634020,60016
Dental Hygienists7111064,20033
Dental Assistants3490074,40024
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

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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Get allied health training with Ross Medical Education Center.

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

Campus Locations :

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Knoxville: 206 North Seven Oaks Drive Knoxville, TN 37922

Evansville: 227 N Green River Rd Evansville, IN 47715

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

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

Dayton: 4490 Brandt Pike Dayton, OH 45424

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

Ann Arbor: 4741 Washtenaw Ann Arbor, MI 48108

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

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Huntsville: 930 Old Monrovia Road, NW, NW, Suite 12, Huntsville, AL 35806

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

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Grand Rapids: 4528 Breton SE Grand Rapids, MI 49508

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

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

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

Brighton: 8110 Murphy Drive Brighton, MI 48116

Muncie: 411 West Riggin Muncie, IN 47303

Canton: 44958 Ford Road Canton, MI 48187

Taylor: 22311 Eureka Road Taylor, MI 48180

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

Morgantown: 1064 Suncrest Towne Centre Drive Morgantown, WV 26505

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

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Lowell: 211 Plain Street Lowell, MA 01852

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Allentown: 5151 Tilghman Street Allentown, PA 18104

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Get your career on track with a degree from St. Paul's School of Nursing.

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Staten Island: 2 Corporate Commons 2 Teleport Drive Staten Island, NY 10311

Start the next chapter of your life with an Associate or Bachelor degree from Miller-Motte College Online Division.

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Raleigh: 3901 Capital Boulevard Raleigh, NC 27604

Wilmington: 5000 Market St Wilmington, NC 28405

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Cary: 2205 Walnut St Cary, Cary, NC 27518

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

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

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

Denver: 7475 Dakin Street Suite 100 Denver, CO 80221

Tucson: 3350 E. Grant Road Tucson, AZ 85716

Mesa: 957 S. Dobson Road Mesa, AZ 85202

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

Albuquerque: 4400 Cutler Avenue NE Albuquerque, NM 87110

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

Start a great career in healthcare with Medical Careers Institute. Please Call 844-289-5375 to speak to a customer representative.

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

Get hands-on training with Remington College.

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Cleveland: 14445 Broadway Avenue Cleveland, OH 44125

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Memphis: 2710 Nonconnah Blvd. Memphis, TN 38132

Garland: 1800 Eastgate Drive Garland, TX 75041

Honolulu: 1111 Bishop Street Suite 400 Honolulu, HI 96813

Shreveport: 2106 Bert Kouns Industrial Loop Shreveport, LA 71118

Columbia: 607 Bush River Road Columbia, SC 29210

Mobile: 828 Downtowner Loop West Mobile, AL 36609

Lafayette: 303 Rue Louis XIV Lafayette, LA 70508

American Career College (ACC) offers hands-on training that will prepare students for careers in the healthcare industry at three campuses in Los Angeles, Ontario, and Orange County, California.

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

Campus Locations :

Anaheim: 1200 North Magnolia Ave. Anaheim, CA 92801

Long Beach: 236 E. 3rd Street Long Beach, CA 90802

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

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

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

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Oklahoma City: 309 S Ann Arbor Oklahoma City, OK 73128

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