Dental assistants help dentists in a variety of ways, including scheduling appointments, preparing patients, setting up equipment, and keeping records. They are an essential part of the dental team and ensure that the dental office is running as efficiently as possible. Qualified dental assistants are in high demand thanks to the growing popularity of preventive dental services. 
Dental Assistant Career Overview
Dental assisting is a career path for those who wish to undergo relatively short post-secondary training, and then work in a rapidly growing industry. Career prospects are good, especially for those who completed vocational training and industry certification, as reported by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 
Dental Assistant Duties
While their responsibilities are wide-ranging, what dental assistants do may vary depending on location and dentist’s office. Overall, dental assistants make sure that the operations of a dental office flow smoothly.
Administrative tasks may include:
- recording treatment information
- taking down dental histories
- scheduling patients’ appointments
- processing payments for dental services
- filling out insurance forms
Clinical responsibilities can entail:
- exposing dental x-rays
- taking vital signs of patients
- cleaning teeth
- assisting dentists in dental emergencies
- instructing patients in oral hygiene or postoperative care
Furthermore, dental assistants care for equipment, such as ordering dental supplies, monitoring equipment inventory, producing preliminary impressions, or fabricating and fitting orthodontic appliances. 
Dental Assistant Education Requirements
How to become a dental assistant is different from state to state. In some states, there aren’t any formal educational requirements and dental assistants train on the job. Other states require that dental assistants have graduated from an accredited training program and passed a state certification exam.  Delta Technical College’s dental assistant training program may be finished in as a little as nine months. This allied health career training covers key elements of dental assisting, such as laboratory practices, x-ray procedures, sterilization, equipment maintenance, electronic recordkeeping, and insurance claim processing. Dental assistants should have skills like active listening, critical thinking, service orientation, social perceptiveness, arm-hand steadiness, finger dexterity, and control precision. 
Discover more by reading our post about educational options for dental assistants.
Dental Assistant Certification
After completing a dental assistant training program, dental assistants may want to consider acquiring industry certification. The two most common credentials are Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) and Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).
What is a Registered Dental Assistant?
American Medical Technologists offers the RDA credential. Some state boards also provide their own RDA certification. Applicants for the RDA credential must meet one of the following eligibility routes:
- Education: completing student or graduate of an accredited dental assisting program
- Military: graduate of a military dental assisting program and a minimum of one year of dental assisting work experience
- Work Experience: employed as a dental assistant for a minimum of three years and recommendation from current or former employer who is a dentist
All applicants must be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross (or have comparable training). The RDA certification ought to help dental assistants signify that they have entry-level competence for a dental assistant position. 
What is a Certified Dental Assistant?
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers the CDA credential. The CDA exam tests three components: radiation health and safety, infection control, and general chairside assisting. There are three eligibility pathways for those seeking a CTA credential:
- Pathway I: graduated from a CODA-accredited dental assisting or dental hygiene program, AND current CPR from DANB-accepted provider
- Pathway II: graduated from high school or equivalent, AND minimum of 3,5000 hours of approved work experience, AND current CPR from DANB-accepted provider
- Pathway III: former DANB CDA status, or graduated from a CODA-accredited DDS or DMD program, or graduated from a dental program outside the U.S. or Canada, AND current CPR from DANB-accepted provider 
The CDA credential can give you an advantage over other candidates applying for dental assisting positions. Employers may prefer those with certification and recruiters may specifically seek out certified dental assistants. Being certified can also lead to higher earning power and job satisfaction, as well as expanded job responsibilities. 
For dental certification, Delta Tech students who attend our Ridgeland campus take the DANB certification exam, which includes Radiology Health & Safety (RHS) and Infection Control Exam (ICE). However, they will still need chair-side work experience to take the third and final exam and obtain the CDA credential.
Dental Assistant Career Outlook
According to the BLS, the job outlook for dental assisting is very good, with a predicted growth rate of 19 percent from 2016 to 2026 (much faster than average). As research reveals the link between oral and general health, the demand for preventive dental services is growing and dentists are hiring additional personnel to service their patients. Moreover, the aging baby boomer population has been retaining more of their original teeth than previous generations, which also increases the need for dental care. Career advancement opportunities may be dental office manager, dental equipment salesperson, or processor for dental insurance claims. Dental assistants can also get further education in order to become dental hygienist. 
Dental Assistant Salary
The typical Delta Tech dental assistant program graduate earns $19,066 a year.   How much a dental assistant makes may differ depending on location and industry. The BLS states that dental assistants earn the most money in sectors like specialty hospitals, state government, company and enterprise management, and the federal executive branch. 
The BLS reports that the following careers are similar to dental assisting:
- Dental Hygienists
- Medical Assistants
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Occupational Therapy Assistants & Aides
- Physical Therapist Assistants & Aides
- Psychiatric Technicians & Aides
- Surgical Technologists
- Veterinary Assistants & Laboratory Animal Caretakers 
Delta Tech’s Dental Assisting Program
Are you interested in taking the next step toward becoming a dental assistant? Delta Tech’s dental assistant training is 35 weeks (9 months). Learn more about our Dental Assisting Program.
-  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-6
-  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-6