With an expected job growth of 11 percent over the next several years, dental assistants play a crucial role within dental practices by managing clinical, administrative, and customer service responsibilities.
These professionals can work in various medical settings, from endodontists and orthodontics to oral surgeons and general dental practices.
Typical dental assistant tasks include assisting dentists with treatment procedures, educating patients on oral care, preparing and cleaning equipment and workstations, record keeping, scheduling, and billing.
Becoming a dental assistant requires, at the minimum, completion of a certificate program, which teaches all foundational skills necessary for success.
Keep reading to learn more about dental assisting and the best online programs!
Best Online Dental Assistant Training Programs
Eastern Iowa Community College
EICC offers a dental assistance online certificate program with a hybrid curriculum, allowing students to intern at the Davenport Veterans Affairs Dental Clinic.
This 46-credit course load includes dental science, dental office procedures, and the principles of dental assisting.
EICC also offers online resources such as a job board, interview preparation guide, and resume critiques to ensure graduates quickly find employment after training.
The college website also has resume-writing best practices links and a manual detailing how to market yourself online that attracts employers.
Admission requirements include a physical examination and active health insurance.
The tuition is $9697 for the program, with hybrid learners paying a little more than entirely online students.
Hudson Valley Community College
Situated in Troy, NY, Hudson Valley Community College offers a certificate in dental assisting program that prepares students to enter the workforce.
Graduation requirements include a 225-hour clinical internship with 27 classroom credits.
The program focuses on radiology, dental assisting, and dental office procedures.
One of the best aspects of the college is the staff connects graduates with job databases and helps them prepare for interviews by providing successful tips.
As a result, 95% of alums transfer into a bachelor’s degree program or find employment immediately after graduation.
Admission requirements include a placement test, FAFSA results, and high school transcripts.
Furthermore, first-year students must complete a virtual orientation session.
Tuition costs $8,298, including all materials, fees, and financial requirements.
Indiana University – Purdue University
IUPUI offers a certificate in dental assistance, which requires the completion of 14 courses comprising 30 credits that require clinical experience, lectures, and labs.
Students refine their skills and knowledge related to clinical science, dental materials, and oral pathology.
All learners can choose from one of the two available elective classes.
Around 85 percent of graduates find employment immediately after graduation by beginning the job hunt using internship opportunities.
The School of Dentistry has many resources, such as a private job board.
Admission requirements include a 2.0 undergraduate or high school GPA, and the university awards financial aid to those after completing the course prerequisites.
Program tuition costs $9,371, and no separate out-of-state tuition exists.
Lake Area Technical Institute
Located in Watertown, South Dakota, LATI has an online certificate in dental assistance that requires a student rotation of 12 days per semester working in labs on-campus and 44 credits of online lectures, which cover orthodontics, dental radiography, and applied psychology.
One of the best aspects of this program is students can take a few additional online courses to earn an associate degree.
Graduates report a staggering 99% employment rate, mainly because the school encourages positive career and academic outcomes by providing guides that detail IT troubleshooting and online learning best practices.
Admissions requires high school transcripts and accepts financial aid with good ACT scores.
In addition to the $11,600 tuition, students must pay for laboratory tools and uniforms.
Furthermore, the certificate can be financed by applying for federal loans and grants.
Monroe Community College
MCC is a segment of the State University of New York’s advanced education system. With one campus in downtown Rochester, NY, a larger campus in Brighton, NY, a Rochester suburb, and many off-site learning facilities scattered around the county, MCC offers an exceptional dental assisting rapid-track certificate program.
Under the sponsorship of a practicing dentist, students learn the skills needed for success and quickly enter the workforce.
All online coursework is completed while working on the clinical practicum.
The curriculum includes biomedical science, chairside dental assisting procedures, manipulation of dental materials, oral histology, and specialty assisting techniques.
To be eligible for this program, you must work in a dentist’s office for 500 hours of clinical experience with a sponsoring dentist, which is required for graduation.
Other than the clinical requirement, students can complete this 24-credit-hour program online at their own pace.
Ozarks Technical Community College
Situated in Springfield, Missouri, OTCC offers numerous online programs for individuals that award two-year associate degrees and one-year certificates.
The college also provides plenty of vocational education classes so high school students can earn additional college credit before graduation.
As the only Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited dental assisting program in Southwest Missouri, OTCC is one of the top online choices in the country.
Students enrolled in the program must complete classes like dental science and health, office procedures, dental radiology, and chairside assisting.
Students must also finish a clinical practicum, which provides hands-on experience for a smooth transition into the field.
The program costs $15,526 for in-district students and $17,400 for out-of-district learners.
Sinclair Community College
Those who enroll in the Sinclair Certificate in Dental Assistance program must complete a 17-credit online curriculum that covers lab dental assisting radiography, dental assisting office management, and essential life support.
Also, the program requires a 1-2 day per week commitment for in-person laboratory work at the Dayton, Ohio campus.
The program prepares students to complete the Ohio certification while providing them with Focus2Career and Career Connection software access, which lists job openings across the state.
Applicants must hold a 2.0 GPA in undergraduate courses or a high school degree to be considered for the program.
The program tuition is $4,900, and learners living in Montgomery County pay a lower amount.
Students can submit a financial aid application to the Sinclair Online Scholarship group.
University of Georgia
As one of the most selective programs in the U.S., the University of Georgia offers a 100% online administrative dental assistant program, which costs $2,000 and requires 150 hours of lecture.
Students can start the program at any time and earn 15 credit hours upon completion, which can be applied to an associate or bachelor’s degree program for those who wish to continue their education.
Since the program is offered entirely online, it’s the ideal fit for busy learners and working adults to complete courses and start working as fast as possible.
Throughout the program, students build office management and dental terminology skills while learning to use common medical software like CDT coding, patient recording programs, and Dentrix G4.
Students also learn to correctly complete dental insurance claim forms, an essential skill of any modern dental facility.
What Courses are in an Online Dental Assistant Training Program?
While the course names vary based on the program and institution, the following five topics are part of every curriculum, including the following:
This class covers the dental structure and teaches attendees to identify facial bones, regular oral anatomy, and primary dentitions.
Students also learn about common treatments and diagnoses, and student restorative and preventative oral care to prevent and fix problems.
Students learn to use major tools, equipment, and materials in a dental office and common dental terminology.
Attendees also learn the concepts behind instruments, safety, and materials, like acrylics, metals, gypsums, and waxes.
Infection control prepares students to prevent and treat infections within a dental environment.
Students learn about infections, microorganisms, how to sanitize equipment, infections correctly, and what causes them.
This course examines the regular dental office administrator role duties, including administrative software and how to manage inventory, insurance claims, and scheduling.
Radiology instructs students on taking extraoral and intraoral X-rays and processing images safely and efficiently.
In addition to these introductory courses, some programs offer classes that help you build skills in managing dental practice, which is beneficial for future growth in the field.
For instance, you could take courses in professional and interpersonal communication, health records management, and computer programs for dentistry.
You may need to finish prerequisites at some schools before being admitted into a program.
These often include general education requirements like science or basic math, but any prerequisite courses will vary based on the program.
Can You Earn a Dental Assistant Certification Completely Online?
Yes, many programs are offered completely online.
However, given that medical assisting is an in-person, hands-on career, students always benefit from clinical experience, which may be part of the selected program or can be achieved through an internship.
Clinical experience makes it easier to transition into the dental assisting career requirements and makes them more marketable to potential employees.
In addition to learning tips and tricks from experienced professionals, those with clinical experience also better understand how an office operates, office management skills, and how to deal with difficult patients.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Dental Assistant Certification Online?
The average dental assisting program can take up to 12 months to complete online.
However, some online courses are self-paced, so they can be completed in a few months with regular commitment, while the best are more structured following a typical semester system.
Many graduates who have earned a certificate opt to continue their education and earn an associate degree, which requires at least another year commitment, and then a bachelor’s degree, which requires three more years.
The more comprehensive a program is, the longer the time commitment and the higher the tuition cost.
Still, it provides more knowledge, which can boost you in the career pool over the competition.
Students with longer and more reputable programs tend to be more attractive to employers because there’s less of an onboarding and training period.
How Much Does a Dental Assistant Certification Cost?
The typical online dental assistant certification costs between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on the required books, materials, and program duration.
It’s important to understand that even though a program is more expensive, it isn’t necessarily better.
One of the best online dental assisting programs in the U.S. is offered by the University of Georgia, and tuition costs $2,000 for 150 credit hours, which is an excellent value.
For this reason, cost shouldn’t be the only factor when choosing a school.
You want to find a program that fits your budget, but other considerations include:
- Accreditation status – accreditation by the Department of Education.
- Curriculum design – a program that’s specifically designed for the online format.
- Flexibility – hybrid or entirely online with self-paced learning or classes during a specific time frame.
- Learning environment – an interactive, personalized course load.
- Online learning expertise – a school and program with an excellent online learning reputation.
- Program outcomes – clear online learning objectives.
Becoming a dental assistant takes hard work and commitment to reach the career of your dreams.
Many enter the field with a drive to help others in their medical time of need.
While there are plenty of reasons to become a medical assistant, having a great career must be one of them.
However, to get to the point of being able to help others, it’s crucial to get a dental assisting certificate from a good college or university.
Some of the best online dental assisting programs in the country are offered by Eastern Iowa Community College, Hudson Valley Community College, Indiana University – Purdue University, Lake Area Technical Institute, Monroe, Community College, Ozarks Technical Community College, Sinclair Community College, and the University of Georgia.
In addition to offering detailed curricula, these schools provide post-graduate resources to help students start their careers.
A comprehensive program requires up to 12 months and can cost between $2,000 and $15,000.
Remember, the price does not necessarily dictate the school’s reputation or quality level, so it’s critical to consider all factors before enrolling.
If this sounds like a career that fulfills your goals, start looking at programs today, and don’t hesitate to ask admission plenty of questions to find the best option to meet your needs!