How To Become a Dental Assistant

how to become a dental assistant

If there’s one area of the healthcare sector that puts more smiles back on people’s faces – it’s working in dental healthcare. By becoming a dental assistant, you can not only become a pivotal member of any dental healthcare team, you can start an exciting new career in the dental industry. Whether it’s assisting dentists and hygienists to perform their tasks more effectively or educating patients about their oral health. As a dental assistant, you’ll play a key role in any dental facility. We’ve put together an essential guide to help you pursue a career as a dental assistant.

Find out more about Dorsey College’s Dental Assistant training program here!

Your journey to become a dentist assistant

As possibly the most appealing aspect of the job – typically, no two days as a dental assistant are ever the same. However, as a result, there are a number of factors, skills, and duties you must learn before becoming a dental assistant.

The first step towards learning how to become a dental assistant often starts with enrolling in a dental assistant training college or program. While program lengths  may vary, entering the dental assistant profession can be completed with around one year of training.

Attending a dental assistant school can provide you with the fundamental administrative and practical skills demanded of the role and should preferably include an externship. For example, a typical day for a dental assistant can consist of:

  • Meeting, greeting, and scheduling appointments for patients
  • Chairside assisting of dentists and oral hygienists
  • Sterilizing equipment before and after a procedure
  • Processing patient lab and X-ray results

Getting a solid grounding in the various responsibilities of a dental assistant can ultimately provide the ideal foundation for you to challenge a certification exam.

Find a training program

It’s important not to underestimate the value of attending a dental assistant training program. Dental assistant schools can give you the knowledge base, as well as the skills you need to thrive in the industry.

It’s also important that the dental assistant training course you attend includes a clinical portion. Learning about the skills and procedures is one thing; applying them in a real-world dental facility offers invaluable practice and experience to excel in your new career.

The importance of a well rounded dental assistant training program

In a program you can learn the knowledge and the skills needed to perform duties as a dental assistant. However finding a program that also offers an externship can give you additional hands-on experience. These tasks can help you become comfortable while assisting dentists, hygienists, and orthodontists when:

  • Preparing patients before a procedure
  • Sterilizing tools and instruments
  • Supplying equipment to a dentist during procedures
  • Operating machinery such as lighting and the suction hose
  • Handling X-rays and laboratory samples

Does your state require an exam?

Fortunately, like most states, Michigan does not require dental assistants to sit a mandatory certification exam.  However, it’s always good to do your research as certain employers may only hire dental assistants who have become certified.  In addition, becoming certified can make an aspiring dental assistant a more competitive candidate when they are pursuing job opportunities.

The projected demand for the employment of dental assistants is set to grow by an incredible 7% between 2022 and 2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 1.

How hard is it to become a dental assistant

Perhaps you’re worried about the minimum educational requirements needed to begin, the time commitment involved, or how you can accumulate the skills necessary to become a dental assistant. Luckily, becoming a dental assistant through a dental assistant education program can help you overcome these obstacles. For starters, while the entry requirements to enroll can vary from state to state, you can begin your training in Michigan with a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Additionally, most dental assistant training programs are designed to be completed in a year or less.

Completing a dental assistant training program can provide you with a solid foundation to pursue certification once you’ve graduated. However, dental training schools, like Dorsey College, also allow you to combine your studies with an externship. This provides an excellent way to apply these skills in a real-world environment and grow your confidence.

How long does it take to become a dental assistant

Fortunately, there is no need for a degree to become a dental assistant. Instead, aspiring dental assistants can attend specialist training colleges to study the administrative and technical aspects of the role. While some dental assistant courses can take up to two years, most can be completed within a year or less of training.

Take a step towards your dental assistant career with Dorsey College!

At Dorsey College, our dedicated team of educators have specifically crafted the program for our dental assistant training program. In addition to our in-classroom learning, you can also benefit from hands-on training in the labs on-campus as well as an externship for an opportunity to put your learned skills and knowledge into practice.

So kickstart your journey to learn how to become a dental assistant with Dorsey College. With three fantastic campus locations, you can choose to study to become a dental assistant at:

Intended to be completed in just one year, you could soon embark on a new career as a dental assistant. So, make that switch today – swap your current job for a career that can put smiles back on people’s faces.

Ready to make a change? Take the first step!
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  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Assistants, at (visited November 20th, 2023).

NOTE: The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Michigan Board of Dentistry are responsible for the licensing of individuals who want to practice dentistry, dental hygiene and advanced levels of dental assisting.  Students attending a dental assisting program offered by a private college that is not accredited by the American Dental Association are not eligible for licensure in the State of Michigan. Dorsey College is classified as a private college and is not accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation; graduates of this program are not eligible for licensure as a Registered Dental Assistant in Michigan. However, graduates of this program may challenge a certification exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. after completing 3,500 hours of dental work experience. Dorsey’s Dental Assistant Program includes the opportunity to sit for the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) and the Infection Control (ICE) certification exams, which are two components of the Dental Assisting national Board (“DANB”) Certified Dental Assistant (“CDA”) exam. Graduates of this program may complete the third exam component necessary for DANB’s CDA credential, which is challenged after completing “a minimum of 3,500 hours’ work experience as a dental assistant, accrued over a period of at least two years (24 months, if employed fulltime) to a maximum of four years (48 months, if employed part-time) which employment must be verified by a licensed dentist.”