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A Basic Guide to Becoming a Dental Assistant

Almost 50% of high school graduates don’t go to college, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a successful career. If this statistic applies to you, you could become a dental assistant without going to college.

Not sure how to get started? Read our basic guide on becoming a dental assistant.

Having a High School Diploma

Becoming a dental assistant requires getting a high school diploma. Beyond high school, you may need extra dental assistant education depending on the state you want to practice in. You can learn more here about dental education.

Knowing Your State’s Requirements

Beyond a high school diploma, some states won’t require additional training or education to become a dental assistant. Other states make it necessary to get a certification through an accredited program.

It is important to keep in mind that even if your state does not require certifications, it may be in your best interest to get one. Potential employers are going to look at your qualification levels before deciding to hire you.

Enroll in a Certificate Program

If your state requires it, you’ll need to enroll in a certificate program before beginning a dental assistant career. You must enroll in an accredited program in the eyes of the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

These programs can take up to two years to complete. The length of time it takes depends on if you are pursuing an associate degree, diploma, or certificate.

You’ll learn important aspects of a career in dental assisting during these programs. You will have a competitive advantage if you enroll in a program even if your state doesn’t require it.

Complete Licensing Requirements

By visiting the Dental Assistant National Board’s website, you’ll get an idea of the certifications and licenses you need to begin your career. The basic requirements before taking an exam include:

  • Graduating from an accredited program
  • Completing CPR training
  • High school diploma (if your state does not require program completion)

If you want to work in specialized dental assisting, you must pursue further certifications.

Get an Externship

What does a dental assistant do? You’ll learn everything you need to know hands-on through an externship. You will even get an idea of the dental assistant salary.

This is not necessarily a requirement, but it can give you a competitive edge on your resume when applying for jobs. Through an externship, you can practice your skills and understand the job better as a whole.

If you want to work in a specialized area, you should opt to do an externship for dental facilities that work in those areas.

Be on Your Way to Becoming a Dental Assistant

Becoming a dental assistant can open doors and opportunities to advance your career. After working as one for several years, you can complete an advanced degree to become a dentist or dental hygienist yourself.

By following the steps in this guide, you’ll be on your way to a successful dental assistant career.

For more career advice, check out our other blog posts.

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