How Long Does It Take to Become a Dental Assistant?

How Long Does it Take to Become a Dental Assistant?

Have you ever wondered how long does it take to become a dental assistant? What exactly do you have to do before you can step into the dental office and start working? The answer might surprise you, most dental assistants only have a high school diploma! Yes, it’s true, most dental assistants don’t have any formal qualifications and the ones that do receive their certificate or diploma within a year, just like certified nursing assistants! So if you were sweating bullets before there is no cause for worry, the process of becoming a dental assistant shouldn’t be a difficult or intimidating task.

Entry Level Dental Assistant

The truth is, most dental assistants (over 75%) don’t have any formal training, and instead received on-the-job training which in most states is considered sufficient enough to work as an entry-level dental assistant. So technically, you can start as soon as today and simply search for and apply to dental offices that offer on-the-job training. Although offices that offer on the job training are harder to come by these days — due to increased competition and higher expectations — they do exist and just takes some effort to find. Offices like these often look for candidates that are willing to learn, with a good attitude and the characteristics that are necessary to be an exceptional dental assistant (such as good communication skills, attention to detail, and good customer service). Some states have requirements however, so check the map below to learn how to become a dental assistant in your state.

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On the other hand, many people choose to pursue a certificate or diploma as a dental assistant, mainly because having a certificate/diploma helps to increase the chance of getting hired. And what is surprising about getting a certificate/diploma is that most accredited dental assistant programs range between 9-12 months, which is relatively short compared to other occupations. Many technical schools and community colleges offer DA programs, and there are also specific DA schools that focus primarily on dental assisting.

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Certified Dental Assistant

There is also the option of getting certified, which basically means that you are recognized anywhere in the US as a qualified dental assistant. Being certified is the best position you can attain as a DA, and comes with a higher salary, added benefits, and expanded functions. But you’re probably wondering, how long does it take to become a dental assistant that’s certified? Becoming certified takes a relatively short amount of time, and usually takes no more than 6 months to a year after completing an accredited dental assisting program.

how long does it take to become a dental assistant