Are you interested in becoming a dental assistant but not sure where to start? You’re not alone! Getting started on this career path may seem overwhelming at first, but there are clear steps you can take which can help you become a dental assistant in no time!
Decide if dental assisting is right for you
Pursuing a career in dental assisting is a big decision for you and your family. Many people are attracted to a career in dental assisting for the salary, job stability, and job satisfaction it can provide. If you are a strong communicator, a quick thinker, and work well with your hands, dental assisting may be a rewarding career for you.
Choose an education program
You can learn to become a dental assistant in many different ways. You can attend a community college, vocational school, or other training institute. Most training programs take between nine and eleven months to complete, but accelerated programs of study are also available. At the American Institute of Dental Assisting, for example, you can complete the entire course in only 13 weeks!
Make sure your education includes comprehensive course work as well as hands-on training. It’s important to practice on real patients under the guidance and supervision of a real dentist. Working with “practice dummies” and reading textbooks are no substitute for real life experience.
State regulations vary across the U.S. in terms of dental assistant registration, licensure, and certification. For students who choose to become certified, many take the Dental Assisting National Board’s (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination. Be sure to consult with your state dental board as well as the faculty at your training institute to see if this option is right for you.
Get experience in the field
Finally, the only way to become a dental assistant is to get some real work experience in the field. Many training programs, like the American Institute of Dental Assisting, offer job placement assistance. Internships and externships may also be available at dental practices in your area, so be sure to keep an eye out and ask fellow classmates or teachers.
Making any big decision can be a bit intimidating, but hopefully this will give you an idea of the first steps you should remember when considering a career as a dental assistant.