Dental Assistant Training
If you wish to become a dental assistant, you are encouraged to get the proper training. While not every dental office requires its assistants to have formal training in this field, it can definitely increase job prospects. Consider the type of dental assistant training you should look into if you want a good chance of getting a job in this field.
The fastest way to get a dental assistant degree is through a vocational school, as there are programs that only last six months to a year. While these schools offer the appropriate training for this job, you may have to return to college if you ever switch careers since the degree you get at a vocational school may not count for much in another field. For this reason, you may prefer instead to attend community college. This typically takes two years, but in the end you will have an associate’s degree, which may be enough to break into fields other than dental assisting.
You do not need a bachelor’s degree to become a dental assistant, though you can certainly get one in a related field if you wish to be prepared to ever switch careers. As long as you take classes that teach you the basics of dental assisting or dentistry in general, employers may be impressed with your education. Plus, you may have more room for advancement when you have a bachelor’s degree.
On the other hand, some people never attend college to become a dental assistant, as they learn on-the-job. If you currently have a job in a dental office, you should ask what you would need to do to become a dental assistant, as many offices are willing to train employees. It will probably take several months for you to become comfortable with all the dental assistant duties, but in the end, you will have the position you want without having to go back to school.
Requirements of Degree Programs
Very few dental assistant programs require students to have completed anything more than high school. As long as you have a diploma or GED, you stand a good chance of getting into a community college or vocational school. During the program, you will take classes that teach dental terminology, instrument usage, and the basics of what you will be doing on a day to day basis as a dental assistant. Unlike degree programs for many other careers, you will typically not have to take on an internship before graduating, though this may still be helpful should you choose to do so.
What Training Do You Need After School?
Graduating from dental assistant school does not always mean you are completely ready to do well in this position. In many states, you are expected to take a certification exam, such as the Certified Dental Assistant credential. Even if your state does not require this certification, you should look into obtaining it if you want a better chance of getting a job quickly.
Additionally, if you wish to take x-rays of patients, you typically need to complete a radiology course and pass an exam. Since many dentists appreciate dental assistants who can take over this duty for them, you are encouraged to get this additional training if your state requires it before you can take x-rays.
Selecting a Dental Assistant School
Before you decide on the best program to participate in, you should first consider how long you can wait before starting your career. If you want to begin immediately, a shorter program from a vocational school may be best. You may even consider obtaining an entry level job at a dental office, as you can then tell your manager that you wish to start training as a dental assistant in the near future. But if you are not sure that you wish to be a dental assistant forever, you might consider getting either an associate’s degree in this field, or a bachelor’s degree in any field. This type of degree will take longer, but may lead to more opportunities for advancement.
After deciding on the length of the dental assistant program that is best for you, it is time to look at reviews of schools that you are considering. Find out what graduates are doing today, as they should be employed in this field, or at least a related field. You can talk to current students to find out what they like about the school, and also read reviews online. Plus, you should find out which schools are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, as these colleges are set up to ensure that you get all the dental assistant training you need.