Welcome to The Dental Assistant Training Site! We discuss everything you need to know as you begin your career as a dental assistant.  We outline the state-specific training and certification requirements, provide a directory of training course providers, seek out the best exam preparation tools to help you get certified on your first try, highlight potential employers and available jobs after training is completed, and even coach you through interviews to help you get hired.  Those are just some of the helpful features you’ll find here on the Dental Assistant Training Site.

Dental Assistants are an integral part of making a dental office run smoothly.  Excellent dental assistant training is the foundation upon which you must begin your career.  It will prepare you to excel in your everyday duties, and remain valuable to your employer as well as your patients.

Dental assistants work in just about every city and state in the country.  Anywhere there are dental offices, dental assistants are needed!

Deciding on a dental assistant training program does not have to be overwhelming.  Let this site be your resource for learning about dental assistant requirements, state-by-state, finding a reputable course that’s also affordable and fits in with your schedule, and guides you in finding, applying for, and getting hired at your perfect job.

Dental Assistant Training

Congratulations on your decision to start your career as a dental assistant! You are entering a field that is in high demand.  Dental assistant training requirements vary from state to state. Please select your state below to access the dental assistant training and certification requirements so you can quickly get started.

Select Your State:

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
D.C. Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Florida Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming


Dental Assistant

dental assistant is paid to assist the dentist or dentists in an office in any way necessary. Whether by helping with patients, managing the office, or even working in a laboratory – a dental assistant’s duty is an extremely important one.   A job as a dental assistant is one of the most popular among job seekers today, whether you’re looking to start your career and advance to eventually become a dental hygienist, or dentist, or you may just want a stable, rewarding job for the long-term.

Most dental assistants will find employment through private practices in small towns and large cities.  Dentists are everywhere!  No matter what part of the world you may live in, there’s always a demand for healthy teeth and oral hygiene care, however training requirements and regulations vary from state to state in the U.S., and country to country as well.

Dental Assistant Job Description

The job description for a dental assistant will vary depending on the size of the dental office in which one works.

For example, a small town, one dentist practice with a limited support staff may need a dental assistant to help work with patients, and occasionally fill in to manage the office if there is only one receptionist.  Some dental assistants will start by managing the office, including greeting patients and having them complete paperwork, processing insurance claims and billing invoices, setting and managing appointments, and ordering and organizing office and dental supplies, to become familiar with how the office runs, and then move on to assisting the dentist in the exam room.

Typically, for dental assistants who only work with patients alongside the dentist, the job entails:

  • Preparing the exam room before each patient by sterilizing all dental tools and laying out supplies.
  • Making the patient feel comfortable and at ease before any procedures.
  • Working with the dentist during routine exams and cleanings to hand tools and supplies as needed
  • Taking and processing patient X-rays, and sometimes administering anesthetics to gums before procedures
  • Removing stitches as necessary
  • Laboratory procedures.
  • Evaluate the patient’s diet and its relationship to oral health, and instruct the patient in the importance of home care
  • Demonstrate proper brushing, flossing techniques to patients
  • Front Office duties include appointment making, recalls, billing and processing third party insurance forms, ordering supplies, and complying with OSHA regulations.

Dental Assistant Jobs

As previously mentioned, the demand for dental assistants is strong.  According to The University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, “the demand for dental assistants currently exceeds the supply. The growth of the dental health field assures an excellent employment outlook for the future.”

School of Dentistry, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on the internet at: https://www.dentistry.unc.edu/academic/da/ (visited April 1, 2014).

Be sure to browse our Dental Assistant Jobs page, where you’ll find a job board to help you in your search.   By browsing the current jobs that are available, you can get an idea of the local demand, as well as individual job requirements local dentists are seeking.  Even if you’re not ready to look for a position yet, reading job descriptions written by local dentists will prepare you as you begin your career as a dental assistant.

Dental Assistant Certifications

Many states will require that you obtain specific certifications before you seek employment as a dental assistant.  Since you will be working in a healthcare environment on real people, it will be very important for you to know exactly what to do before your first day on the job!

Other states don’t require a license at all, so it’s best to check using the convenient map above to see if your area needs you to first get a license before seeking employment.

Opportunities for Advanced Dental Assistant Training

After completing your basic dental assistant training, you may choose to pursue more advanced education.  Some opportunities for advanced dental assistant training include orthodontics, or x-ray processing if that wasn’t part of your basic course.  After completing a few years on the job, and experiencing the duties first hand of being in an exam room, you may decide you want to advance to the position of dental hygienist, or even become a dentist yourself.

The training programs for these advanced dental positions are generally more intensive, more time consuming, and often more expensive.  You will also need to possess greater levels of skill and more in-depth medical knowledge.

Your dental assistant training program should provide you with all the tools you require to learn your vocation, but we have an excellent page of resources with reading materials and exam preparation guides to ensure your success in obtaining your certifications.

Online Dental Assistant Training

While some initial online courses may be available, and may suit your schedule better, it’s always wise in this type of vocation to attend live classes.  A live class led by a teacher will allow for hands-on demonstrations instead of just watching a video or memorizing a diagram.  The vast majority of CODA accredited courses, which will be a requirement for receiving expanded functions certification in many states, as well one path to sitting for the DANB, or Dental Assisting National Board, General Chairside Exam.

Again, it depends on where you live, because online courses aren’t always accepted, or only a portion of the curriculum can be provided online. Make sure that if you do live in a state that allows online training, that it’s from a state-certified program that will give you what you need to proceed.  CODA accredited programs typically have a clinical requirement where you’ll be working in an externship at a dental practice.

In states that require current CPR certification, online courses are generally not accepted.

Cost of Dental Assistant Training

Cost is definitely a concern for most people when considering going back to school.  You want to make sure your investment in education will pay you back over the course of your career many times.  Luckily, most dental assistant training (including CODA accredited programs) is very affordable, and offered at local community colleges.  One year programs usually cost between $2,000 – $5,000, with some higher cost areas slightly more.  This does not include any living expenses while attending school.  For more details on the costs of schooling, please read Cost of Dental Assistant Training.  Also, we’re working on writing The Complete Guide to Financial Aid for Dental Assistants – please subscribe to our blog and when it’s available you’ll receive a copy via email.