If you are looking to enter the dental profession and earn a substantial income through a challenging and fulfilling position, a career as a dental assistant may be the perfect choice for you. Dental assistants are essential aides to dentists and hygienists, performing specialized tasks to help in the completion of dental treatment. They assist during dental procedures, take and process X-rays, maintain the dental office, and more.
Here, our healthcare education professionals at Howard HealthCare Academy provide an overview of dental assistant education requirements—both for prospective students and those enrolled in dental assistant programs. Read on to learn more and enroll in our award-winning Dental Assistant Program today!
Dental Assistant Education Requirements
Dental assistants receive their formal education through accredited academic programs at community colleges, technical institutes, vocational schools, universities or dental schools. Though there are typically no formal dental assistant education requirements, students will benefit from a firm understanding of applicable subjects such as health, biology, psychology, chemistry, mathematics, and speech.
Programs will cover the main requirements needed a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) or Registered Dental Assistant (RDA), including radiation health and safety, infection control, and general chairside assisting.
The majority of dental assisting programs take nine to eleven months to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated training, part-time education programs, or online training. Upon graduation, students receive certificates that qualify them to take their CDA or RDA examinations.
RDA Requirements for Dental Assistants in California
The State of California requires all dental assistants to complete a number of courses, training, and tests to qualify for their Registered Dental Assistant examinations. Find these requirements below, courtesy of the Howard HealthCare AcademyDental Board of California.
To qualify for RDA examinations, dental assistant candidates must:
- Graduate from a board-approved RDA educational program; or
- Complete at least 15 months (1,280 hours) of satisfactory work experience as a dental assistant with a dentist licensed in the United States; or
- Complete a California Department of Education-approved four-month educational program and 11 months of work experience with a dentist(s) licensed in the United States.
- Complete board-approved courses in coronal polishing and radiation safety.
- Complete and show proof of completion of a board-approved course in the Dental Practice Act completed within five (5) years of application.
- Complete and show proof of completion of an eight (8)-hour board-approved course in infection control completed within five (5) years of application.
- Complete and show proof of completion of a basic life support course offered by an instructor approved by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
- Submit fingerprint clearances from both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). This process can take 60 days or more. If a candidate has a criminal history, the arrest report and court records must be obtained and investigated before a decision is made to issue or deny the license.
Upon completing all of the above requirements, prospective dental assistant candidates will then be able to take RDA licensure examinations and obtain their RDA licenses in California.
To obtain a California registered dental assistant (RDA) license from the Dental Board of California, candidates must then:
- Pass a hands-on practical examination performed on a typodont.
- Pass a State computerized written general knowledge examination.
- Pass a State computerized law and ethics written examination.
Though many dental assistants choose to obtain licenses as Registered Dental Assistants, many others choose to work as Certified Dental Assistants. CDA requirements are typically less rigorous than RDA requirements. Upon completion of a dental assistant program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, graduates are eligible to take the CDA examination. Unlicensed dental assistants who have been trained on the job or have graduated from non-accredited programs are eligible to take the CDA examination after completing two years of full-time work experience as a dental assistant. Many states also recognize passage of certain components of the CDA examination (such as the Radiation Health and Safety examination or the Infection Control examination) for CDA licensing.
Learn More and Become a Dental Assistant at Howard HealthCare Academy
Howard HealthCare Academy’s Dental Assistant Program is structured to satisfy the California dental assistant requirements. Through our partnership with The Super Dentists, San Diego’s premier pediatric dental practice, our program emphasizes hands-on learning in real dental office environments to supplement in-class education.
Ready to fulfill your dental assistant education requirements through hands-on learning here at Howard HealthCare Academy? Contact us to speak with a member of our admissions team directly, and get started on the enrollment process to join our Dental Assistant Program today!