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Are you considering a career as a dental assistant? Dental assisting is a fulfilling career where you always get to see new people, learn new things, and help others. And attending the right dental assisting program is the first step to becoming a dental assistant. But what do you need to get into dental assistant school?

Understanding how to apply and what to expect during dental assisting school can help you feel more confident about embarking on your new role as a dental assistant. 

What Do I Need To Become A Dental Assistant?

Dental Assistants are exceptionally personable and friendly. It’s important that dental assistants have good “soft skills” and be able to get along with others. After all, your career in dental assisting will be extremely people-focused. Most of our dental assisting program applicants are good working with their hands and prefer to be active, as opposed to sitting at a desk. You’ll also want to have good dexterity and hand-eye coordination, as you’ll be working alongside the dentist, passing dental instruments, prepping patients, and supporting dental hygienists in some cases. 

Most importantly, you’ll need to make sure you meet any dental assisting national board requirements from your specific state. Every state is different, so each requires certain dental field training or a minimum number of hands-on training hours. 

If you haven’t already, go ahead and plan on getting your current CPR certification. Make sure you take a healthcare provider CPR class, as it’s different than other routine BLS cards that are issued. Please note Pacific Northwest Dental Assisting School offers this as part of our training.

Most assisting school requirements will also ask for a copy of your high school diploma or GED.

Next, you’ll apply to and attend dental assisting school. Since most dental assistants can be fully trained in a matter of months, completing dental assisting school isn’t as time-consuming or stressful as a lengthier degree path. Yet, it’s just as rewarding! You’ll want to consider all of your dental assisting programs options to select one that offers hands-on training, assistance with job placement, and experience in actual dental offices as you attend school. In addition, most offer financial assistance, which is also extremely helpful!

How Can I Earn My Dental Assistant Certification?

Certified dental assistants usually attend credentialed dental assisting school programs near them. If your dental assisting school is in another state, be sure to communicate with the admissions staff to discuss your specific qualifications and accreditation process. Students may choose to sit for a CDA exam, such as those approved by the Commission of Dental Accreditation or other national organizations. These certifications may be optional in most states, but they can be beneficial on your resume or if you plan on attending dental or hygiene school after a few years in dental assisting.

All dental assistants will also need to complete radiation health certifications with their state, making it legal for them to take X-rays in and after dental assisting school. Your program directors will guide you through this process so that you know how to be registered/licensed/credentialed once you start working in a dental office. 

What are Dental Assisting School Prerequisites?

Dental assistant programs are typically certificate-based, allowing you to attend assisting school without any specific course prerequisites outside of your high school diploma. Some places may have stricter dental assisting school requirements, while others have more lenient. More than likely, you will need to have your CPR course during the application process or shortly after being accepted. Radiation or sealant exams are typically not taken until you’re closer to becoming a certified dental assistant. Dental assisting tends to involve a lot of hands-on technical learning, so there are fewer science courses taken than if you were applying to hygiene school. 

Immunization Requirements

Before you begin your rewarding career as a dental assistant-and even if you plan on performing basic administrative tasks in a dental office- you’ll have to complete your mandated vaccine and immunization requirements. These have been required for decades, so it is not anything recent with the COVID-19 pandemic. They go along with other infection control protocols. Since dental staff personnel are frequently exposed to bloodborne pathogens, it is crucial to complete your immunizations, such as Hepatitis B, before or during dental assisting school. You typically cannot become a certified dental assistant without these records, or at least some type of a waiver to prove that you are unable to receive them because of health or religious reasons. 

Find The Best Dental Assistant Program For You

In dental assistant programs, prospective students should first consider the quality of training that students receive. If your dental assisting school is located in another state, you will want to make sure you know exactly what’s required to return back to your home state and work in the dental health sector. More established programs can guide you through this preparation process so that you know whether or not you’re choosing the best dental assisting school. Be sure to look at graduation rates, the teacher-to-student ratios, and job placement offerings as well. 

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Dental Assistant?

Most dental assistants either take out a small loan, pay their tuition in full, or receive tuition assistance through their school. Since dental assistant courses are typically priced at extremely competitive rates, you can embark on a new career without going into the same load of student loan debt that you would attending a university for four years. There will be some expenses such as uniforms or supplies, but your initial financial assistance packet should list all fees at the time of application, so there’s nothing to be surprised about later on. Many of them will work with you to help with grants to minimize your out-of-pocket school costs. 

Why Choose A Career As A Dental Assistant?

As a dental assistant, you will work with patients and other healthcare professionals on a daily basis, making a positive impact on the lives of others. Working as a dental assistant is a stable job with a reliable income, providing a healthy work-life balance for you and your family. 

If you’re looking for the best dental assistant school and are ready to embark on your new dental career, contact Pacific Northwest Dental Assistant School today for instructions on how to apply.