How to Become a Dental Assistant
Becoming a dental assistant is a rewarding challenge and smart career move. Dental assisting is a growing, competitive field with a strong job outlook. If you are organized and detail-oriented, have good interpersonal/listening skills, enjoy working with your friends, and have a desire to help others, then a career as a dental assistant might be for you!
Here are the steps for how to become a dental assistant:
Step 1: Understand the Requirements for Being a Dental Assistant
These qualifications are essential for people in a dental assistant role:
- Ability to multitask and stay organized
- Interest in healthcare and oral hygiene
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Understanding of how to perform and execute the wide range of tasks required:
- Clinical/patient care
A formal dental assistant training program will provide you with the know-how for performing the daily duties and responsibilities that are common for the role. However, there will naturally be some level of on-the-job training provided as well, as every dental office, dentist, and dental hygienist you assist will have some unique needs.
If you are strong in these areas and wish to become a dental assistant, the next step is to get your education in the field.
Step 2: Select a Dental Assistant Training Program
The most common path to becoming a dental assistant is to complete a formal dental assisting training program. This program provides knowledge, training, and experience that will be beneficial when seeking employment.
There are many dental assistant schools to choose from, so it is important to consider many factors when making your decision, including:
- Admission requirements for the school’s dental assistant program
- Structure of the dental assisting program – ideally, it will offer holistic training approach, including:
- Lectures led by experienced faculty
- Access to modern facilities
- Opportunity to gain real-world experience through an externship
- Focused course material that will prepare you for dental assistant certification
- Reputation and accreditation status of the school – ensure the school is accredited by a US Department of Education-recognized agency, such as the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
- Cost, including financial aid options
- Length of dental assisting program
Arizona College is an accredited school that offers a hands-on dental assisting program at its campuses in Glendale and Mesa, AZ. Our program is designed to be completed in 38 weeks and we offer financial aid for those who qualify.
Step 3: Attend Dental Assistant School
After you have applied, been accepted, and are enrolled in a dental assistant program, you will now focus on successfully completing the program and graduating.
When you attend a dental assistant school that offers hands-on training and dental laboratory experience, you’ll have ample opportunity to perfect new skill sets. Arizona College’s dental assistant program offers all of this important experience plus a clinical externship, which will allow you to gain work experience in a real-world dentistry setting.
Step 4: Become a Dental Assistant
After graduation, you are ready to enter into your career as a dental assistant. Though not a requirement, becoming a certified dental assistant through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) will enhance your resume and make you more marketable in your job searches.
As a graduate of the Arizona College program, our Career Services team is available to support you in your job search.