How Long Does It Take To Become A Dental Assistant (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 9 To 11 Months

A dental assistant is a person who supports the important operations of the dental office. A dental assistant has to perform clinical duties, appointment scheduling, sterilizing instruments etc. 

The career of a dental assistant is promising with lots of benefits. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this path of employment is projected to grow 7%. However, becoming a dental assistant is not easy as the candidates need to be equipped with practical skills and theoretical knowledge. 

In addition to classroom teaching, it takes hands-on learning experience in a clinical setting to be successful.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Dental Assistant?

ProgramDuration 
Dental Assistant9 to 11 Months
Time on courses30 hours a week
Courses19

Students who decide to become dental assistants take anywhere from 9 to 11 months to complete. Then, they can complete the dental assistant program in a community college or technical school. 

The coursework commonly includes subjects like oral anatomy, dental radiology, dental pharmacology, CPR & first aid, dental materials, office administration, and many more. 

Although it is not necessary to take an academic program to complete a career as a dental assistant, it makes one have a leg up in the competition. 

High school students who consider dental assistant as a career choice need to take biology, anatomy, or chemistry classes. On the other hand, some people choose to do on-the-job training under the guidance of an experienced dental assistant, dentist. 

This way, it will be easier to learn various dental terminology, appointment scheduling, understanding the names of the instruments, filing patient records, office activities, and interacting with the patients. Also, the exact time to finish on-the-job training depends on the dental office.

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Taking the post-secondary education by enrolling in dental assistant training takes 9 to 11 months. The curriculum includes classroom lectures training in a clinical setting etc., depending on whether one wants to get a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.

The program may also include classes like Math or English. In addition, the program provides the knowledge of entry-level theory to be an expert in routine clinical and office tasks. Also, the certification and licensing requirements differ from different states.

Why Would Becoming A Dental Assistant Take So Long?

Becoming a dental assistant takes so long because one needs to gain real hands-on experience in a real-world setting. Therefore, the program allows 60 hours which includes practicum periods, to achieve excellence. 

Also, a full-time dentist will supervise to assist in what one learns in the classroom. This will give a major advantage to join the workforce and gain valuable connections in the field.

To become a dental assistant, one also needs to complete 3 exams throughout the program to prepare for the final exam. Hence, altogether with classes, exams, and internships, it may take one year to complete.

Once the person has acquired the certificate and license, they are ready to practice as a dental assistant. Sometimes, after working as a dental assistant, one may choose an advanced degree as well. This way, they can open the door for amazing earning potential and career mobility. 

The ten states experiencing immense growth in dental assistant careers are Texas, New York, Colorado, North Carolina, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Washington. Tennessee, and Maryland. 

While some states do not require a license, some states give importance to formal licenses. Once the certificate and license are obtained, it serves as a blanket assurance to practice as a dental assistant of one’s choice, and it does not need to be renewed annually.

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Since the certification allows the student to complete at their own pace and speed, it is flexible to work for the certificate conveniently.

Conclusion

If one wants to become a certified dental assistant, one must finish the training program, extending to 9-11 months. Overall, the courses are designed to introduce students to office procedures, patient care, and mandatory dental skills. 

Each course outline may total from 25 to 100 hours in duration, ranging from lectures, study time, lab experience, and seminars. If one is potentially interested in becoming a dental assistant, one may complete the associate degree, which allows one to transfer the credits to a bachelor-level program.

Ultimately, it is the choice of the student to choose the type of course and prepare for the final certification and practice.

References

  1. https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201526650061658.page 
  2. https://www.oralhealthworkforce.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/OHWRC-Data-Collection-and-Analysis-Abstract_Dental-Assistants.pdf 
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