There are a lot of dental assistant schools out there to choose from but you want to find the one that best suits you right? Well then you are going to need to do a little research first before you decide which school is right for you. There are dental assistant schools that can last anywhere from 4 months to 2 years and they will also cost different amounts. You are also going to need to know the difference between accredited and non-accredited schools and why the ADA prefers one over the other. We’ll review everything you need to know here.
Dental Assistant Schools
Most dental programs last around 9 months to a year for a certificate/diploma or two years for an associate’s degree. These dental programs provide a lot of practical knowledge for students and prepares them for the occupation of dental assisting. Not only that but receiving a certificate, diploma, or degree can also help a dental assistant in becoming certified in the future which can result in a higher salary and increased benefits. But these schools need to be accredited by the ADA.
What the ADA stands for is the American Dental Association which is an organization that provides guidelines in which dental assisting students are to be taught by. These guidelines cover everything the ADA believes a dental assistant should know and provides for a thorough education. To find ADA accredited schools in your area check out this resource. There have been 269 ADA approved dental assisting training programs in 2006 which means there are even more today!
As we have discussed most ADA approved dental programs last anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. Most dental assistant schools only require a high school diploma or equivalent to apply. The average course usually lasts around 9 months and is provided by dental assistant schools and online colleges. Associate degrees are offered by junior and community colleges. This is much quicker and easier than what it takes for most other dental occupations. For example becoming a dentist can take up to 6 years to complete school! The advantage of receiving a certificate/diploma/degree from an ADA approved school is that it looks better in the eyes of a potential employer and that it is recognized everywhere in your state.
Please note however that there are private dental assistant schools out there that offer programs that last 4 to 6 months but most likely these programs are not approved by the ADA. However effective these programs are they do not offer a certificate/diploma/degree that is valid or recognized by the ADA. These programs are usually meant to provide an effective course with significantly less investment in time and money. This option is recommended when applying for dental offices that don’t require a certificate/diploma/degree but are looking for basic dental assistant training.
Most dental agencies look for an applicant that has had some form of prior training. Hiring doctors look for a qualified individual that has basic dental assisting skills, meets the state requirements, has the right attitude, maintains professionalism, and has a desire to learn. Having a certificate/diploma/degree is not always necessary but is often preferred.