What Education Is Required to Become a Dental Assistant?

A career as a dental assistant requires a high school diploma and either on-the-job training or graduation from a dental assistant training program. In some states, dental assistants must obtain certification. Read this article to learn about required education to become a dental assistant. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education Options

Dental assistants work closely with dentists, but they require less training than dental hygienists. Most dental assistants receive on-the-job training; however, an increasing number are completing one-year dental assistant training programs. Even experienced dental assistants constantly receive on-the-job training in order to keep up with the latest dental technology and techniques.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (www.ada.org) certifies over 250 education programs in dental assisting. During their training, dental assistants will learn:

  • Dental terminology
  • Instrument names
  • Patient interaction
  • How to perform office duties

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Prerequisites High school diploma/equivalent; placement testing, immunization records, and background checks may be required
Online Availability Online coursework available, but in-person internships/practicums are required
Degrees/Certificates Undergraduate certificate or AAS in dental assisting
Common Courses Dental Radiography, Dental Office Administration, Chairside Techniques, and Dental Materials


Some states require dental assistants to become certified through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB, www.danb.org). Certification through DANB requires either 3,500 hours of experience working as a dental assistant and a high school diploma or completion of a one-year dental assistant training program.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts that demand for dental assistants will grow by 25% between 2012 and 2022. In May 2014, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for dental assistants was $35,390. The majority of dental assistants work full-time, however, the BLS notes that some positions require assistants to work on weekends or evenings. One in three reported being scheduled on a part-time basis in 2012.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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