Dental Assistant Training Requirements and Programs California

State specific dental assistant training requirements for California, including links to important governing body websites and course providers.  Find California dental assistant schools here.

California has three levels of dental assistants:

  1. Unlicensed
  2. Licensed Registered Dental Assistant
  3. Licensed Registered Dental Assistant in Extended Functions

Unlicensed Dental Assistants 

A dental assistant without a license, may perform basic supportive dental procedures, under the supervision of a licensed dentist. “Basic supportive dental procedures” are those procedures that have technically elementary   characteristics, are completely reversible, and are unlikely to precipitate potentially hazardous conditions for the patient being treated.

The supervising licensed dentist shall be responsible for determining the competency of the dental assistant to perform the basic supportive dental procedures.

There are still some basic requirements for unlicensed assistants that must be completed before one full year of employment.

The employer of a dental assistant shall be responsible for ensuring that the dental assistant who has been in continuous employment for 120 days or more, has already successfully completed, or successfully completes, all of the following within a year of the date of employment:

(1) A board-approved course in the Dental Practice Act.

(2) A board-approved 8 hour course in infection control.

(3) A course in basic life support offered by an instructor approved by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association, or any other course approved by the board as equivalent and that provides the student the opportunity to engage in hands-on simulated clinical scenarios.

The employer of a dental assistant shall be responsible for ensuring that the dental assistant maintains certification in basic life support.

Registered Dental Assistants

To become a Registered Dental Assistant in California, you must first qualify for RDA examinations by one of the following:

  1. Graduate from a Board-approved RDA educational program of a minimum of 800 hours (approximately 8 months); or
  2. Complete at least 15 months of satisfactory (1,280 Hours) paid work experience as a dental assistant with a dentist licensed in one of the states in the United States; or
  3. Complete a California Department of Education approved 4-month educational program, and 11 months of work experience with a dentist(s) licensed in one of the states of the United States.

Foreign education and/or experience is not accepted.

Once your education or experience requirements are met, you must pass a series of exams.  To obtain a California RDA license, you must:

  1. Successfully pass a hands-on practical examination performed on a typodont.
  2. Successfully pass a State computerized written examination.
  3. Successfully pass a State computerized law and ethics written examination.
  4. Successfully complete Board-approved courses in coronal polishing and radiation safety.
  5. Successfully complete and show proof of a Board-approved course in Dental Practice Act, an eight (8) hour Board-approved course in infection control and proof of basic life support (CPR) card.
  6. Submit fingerprint clearances from both the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Identification. This process can take 60 days or more. If an applicant has a criminal history, arrest report and court records must be obtained and investigated before a decision is made to issue or deny the license. Live   Scan locations
    Once this process is completed and an applicant is found   to be qualified for licensure, a pocket identification card and wall certificate   are issued. There is no license fee required for the initial license other than   the initial application and examination fees.

Does California offer reciprocity with any other states?  No.  To practice as a Registered Dental Assistant in California, all California exam requirements must be met.  You may use paid work experience in another state as your education requirement.

How much are the fees to apply for licensure as a Registered Dental Assistant?  The initial application is $20, and exam fees are $60.  Written exam fees are additional and paid directly to exam center.

Application for RDA Examination and Licensure – Qualification through board approved RDA programs

Application for RDA Examination and Licensure – Qualification through satisfactory work experience

Registered Dental Assistants in Extended Functions

To obtain your credentials as a Registered Dental Assistant in Extended Functions, more coursework and an exam is required.  You may choose to focus on a specialty, and become a

  • Dental Sedation Assistant Permitholder, and/or
  • Orthodontic Assistant Permitholder

How much are the fees to apply for licensure as a Registered Dental Assistant in Extended Functions?  The application fee is $20, and the exam fee is $250.  If necessary, the re-exam fee is also $250, so it pays to pass on the first try!

In addition, written exam fees of $23 per exam are paid directly to testing center (PSI) at a later date.   There are 3 separate exams:  Dental Sedation Assistant Permitholder Examination ($23), Dental Assistant Extended Functions Examination ($23), and  Orthodontic Assistant Examination ($23).

Application for Registered Dental Assitant in Extended Functions

Helpful Links:

You may find additional information through these links to your state’s official dental board page, or one of our sponsors.

Dental Board of California –  Click on the “Applicants” Tab for More Information