Can You Work as a Dental Assistant Without Being Certified?

Dental assistant working with a patient

female dentists treating patient girl teeth

You can work as a dental assistant without certification but are limited in the job duties you can perform. A dental assistant without a certification can assist with basic dental procedures under the supervision of a licensed dentist but cannot perform more specific job responsibilities.

To work as a certified dental assistant, you can perform more expansive job duties and are not as limited by the functions of your job. An uncertified dental assistant can perform basic dental procedures.

What Are The Requirements to be a Dental Assistant?

To work as a dental assistant, you should receive the education you need from an accredited institution, such as a dental assistant school. When obtaining your dental assistant education, you will get the hands-on experience you need before entering the field.

In addition, you will work in a dental setting to get the skills you need when you become a dental assistant. You can complete your dental assisting certification program in as little as 9 to 24 months.

Do You Need a License to be a Dental Assistant?

You can be a dental assistant without having your RDA license. However, it limits your ability to do specific duties within your job field.

Suppose you need to get your dental assistant license. In that case, you can only set up and sterilize the patient’s room, schedule appointments, maintain dental records, suction, perform oral irrigation and drying, apply fluoride varnish, retract the cheek, or perform other primary duties under the supervision of a dentist.

Getting your dental assistant license allows you to have the ability to perform more job duties in addition to the basics. These job duties include taking X-rays, helping with dental procedures (crowns, fillings, root canals), and coronal polishing.

To be able to work as a dental assistant, you must complete specific certifications to perform the X-rays, temporary fillings, temporary crowns, placement of pit & fissure sealants, or coronal polishing.

Is it Hard to Become a Dental Assistant?

It is easy to become a dental assistant. The curriculum to become certified as a dental assistant is 620 hours, plus a 200-hour onsite externship and 820 hours complete program. While that may take a long time, you can complete your certification program and requirements between 9 and 18 months.

You will take courses on dental procedures, anatomy, and how to provide patient care. You will also learn the leadership and management skills necessary to work in a dental office.

During your externship, you will work hands-on with dentists, allowing you to interact with patients, guide patients in oral hygiene, take X-rays, and practice infection control.

What is the Dental Assistant Certification Process Like?

Do you need a certificate to be a dental assistant? To become certified and work as a dental assistant, you must graduate from a board-approved dental assistant program or complete a minimum of 15 months of dental assisting under a dentist’s supervision in the United States.

Another route to obtain your certification is completing a four-month program approved by the Department of Education in CA and 11 months of hands-on work experience under a dentist’s supervision in the United States. You must complete the required courses on radiation safety and coronal polishing.

Can I Get Dental Assistant Jobs Without Certification?

You can work as an entry-level dental assistant in most states without training or education. However, you will need more advanced duties to perform. Without certification, you cannot take dental X-rays, perform coronal polishing, and assist with more advanced dental procedures, such as crowns, fillings, or root canals.

Can You Be a Dental Assistant Without a Degree?

You can be a dental assistant without a bachelor’s or master’s degree. You can also become a dental assistant without a certification, but you should receive your RDA certification to perform more expansive job duties throughout your career.

As a certified dental assistant, you must complete certain courses and requirements, such as radiography training, coronal polishing, CPR (approved by the AHA or ARC), CA Dental Practice Act, 8 Hour Infection Control, plus complete time working under a dentist’s supervision, in order to learn how to interact with patients and educate them on their oral health.

Final Thoughts

Can you work as a dental assistant without being certified? Yes, but it is helpful to have a certification to be able to do more expansive work throughout your career.

If you want to understand more about how to work as a dental assistant, Howard Healthcare Academy can help. We invite students throughout Southern California to attend our dental assistant school and earn a dental assistant certification or take standalone courses.

Being a dental assistant is a rewarding career, and obtaining your dental assistant certification is simple. Contact us today at Howard Healthcare Academy to learn more!

Recent Posts

Dental Assistant Degree vs. Certificate: Choosing the Best Career Path

Thinking about becoming a dental assistant? You’re doing your research — and that’s a great first step! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job outlook for dental assistants is favorable. Specifically, it estimates a faster than the average growth rate of 7% through 2032. So, how do you become a dental assistant?...

A man receiving treatment from a female dental assistant
Dental Assistant Cover Letters: Everything You Need to Know

If you are applying for a job as a dental assistant, it is essential to create an excellent dental assistant cover letter. Cover letters help prospective employers understand why you should be hired. They showcase your professional ability, highlight your strengths, and show that you are serious about the opportunity to work as a dental...

Dental assistant helping a dentist with a young patient
How Much Do Dental Assistants Make?

If you want to become a dental assistant, you want to understand more about how much dental assistants make and whether it is a decent salary. Dental assistants’ pay depends on several factors, such as specific responsibilities and roles, location, education, and professional experience. A typical dental assistant’s salary in the United States is between...

Dental assistant explaining paperwork to a patient
What is an Expanded Duty Dental Assistant? Explore Roles & Responsibilities

An expanded duty dental assistant, also known as an expanded functions dental assistant (EFDA), is a certified dental assistant who has undergone additional training and schooling to earn the licensure and skills that enables them to perform specific dental procedures. EFDAs can perform specific dental procedures that you would expect a dentist to perform, but...

Contact an Admissions Rep

We’re happy to answer any of your questions and show you around.

Schedule A Tour

Talk to a member of our Admissions team right away.

Apply Now

Fill out this form and we’ll reach out and talk through your options.