Dental assistants work alongside hygienists and dentists to keep the dental office functioning smoothly.
Their duties include sterilizing equipment, preparing rooms, prepping patients, and speaking with patients about how to keep their teeth healthy.
You may also file insurance claims, schedule appointments, and maintain patient records.
Dental Assistant School Options
When it comes to becoming a dental assistant, you have a few options to choose from.
You can get a certificate or diploma as a dental assistant in a few months.
If you want to get an associate’s degree, however, you’ll spend about 2 years in school.
Of course, the type of program you choose also impacts how much dental assistant school will cost.
Generally, shorter certificate programs are going to be less expensive than an associate’s degree.
Certificate and Diploma Programs
Certificate and diploma programs usually cost between $4,000 to $10,000.
Dalton Dental School in Dalton, GA, costs only $4,200 for its 12-week program.
Practical Dental Assisting School in Virginia has a 7-month diploma program.
Students pay $9,650 for this program.
This program also includes an externship of 160 hours.
Associate’s Degree Programs
Carrington College offers several locations around the country with dental assisting programs.
Locations include California, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
Completion of the dental assistant program allows you to go on to take the dental hygienist course if you wish.
You can expect to pay $20,000-$23,000, depending on the location you choose.
Herzing University is another option for a degree as a dental assistant.
The school is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The cost of this two-year program is $18,000.
This includes labs and exam fees.
Some states require you to be a certified dental assistant.
This certification is provided by the Dental Assisting National Board.
You’ll need to take 3 exams in total.
If you pay for the three exams together, the cost is $450.
Once you have your certification, you’ll need to renew it yearly.
This typically costs $75.
Some states require you to get other certifications or licensing as well.
For example, in California, you’ll pay $120 for the application fee, $60 for the practical exam, $43 for a written exam, and $38.50 for a law and ethics exam.
The total for this is $261.50.
Is it Worth Becoming a Dental Assistant?
If you are wondering if it’s worth becoming a dental assistant, there are a few things you should consider, including pay, job security, and the job duties you’ll perform.
Dental Assistant Pay
When you are a dental assistant, you’ll recoup your investment in your education fairly quickly thanks to low tuition costs and good pay.
The average salary for a dental assistant is $44,820.
The lowest-paid dental assistants made $31,000 a year, while the highest-paid 10% of dental assistants earned nearly $60,000 a year.
If you spend $20,000 to get an associate’s degree in dental assisting, you’ll make enough to cover your tuition in about 6 months, so it’s worth it from a financial standpoint.
You’ll also have job security when you become a dental assistant.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assistant positions are expected to grow by 7% over the next decade, which is faster than average.
Growing demand means that you’ll be able to find a job easily, and it can also help you get great pay and benefits.
Dental assisting is expected to be a secure career for many years to come because it’s difficult to replace dental assistants with modern technology.
Begin Your Career Quickly
We’ve discussed the low tuition for becoming a dental assistant, but the speed of dental assistant training is another benefit you should consider.
You can begin working as a dental assistant within months of beginning your training, which is another reason why it is worth it.
If you enjoy helping others, being a dental assistant can be a great career choice.
It’s a rewarding career that allows you to make a difference in the health and life of the patients you see.
Dynamic and Comfortable Work Environment
When you are a dental assistant, you’ll never get bored.
Each day provides its own unique challenges and opportunities.
You’ll spend time interacting with patients, performing procedures, and scheduling appointments.
The dynamic work setting is also comfortable.
You’ll enjoy a clean climate-controlled environment.
Becoming a dental assistant typically takes anywhere from 3 months to 2 years, depending on the program you choose.
You can expect to pay between $4,000 to $10,000 for a diploma or certificate program, and around $20,000 for an associate’s degree as a dental assistant.
Licensing costs are $450, and yearly fees are $75.
If you are looking for a rewarding career that doesn’t leave you with a lot of debt, you should consider being a dental assistant.