When considering the costs associated with attending a dental assisting program, it’s important to understand the available educational options and career opportunities. Students should also think about the duties dental assistants perform in a dental office.
These duties include clerical and clinical tasks. A dental assistant will assist with labs, x-ray procedures, CPR, patient assessments and other skills involved with providing support to clinicians
The job outlook in this field is very promising. The Unites States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a growth of 19% for dental assistants, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations of 7%. The BLS attributes this growth to the aging baby boomer population, whose good dental hygiene habits encourage regular visits to the dentist for healthy maintenance and treatment .
If this sounds like a career you might be interested in, it is important to understand the cost of dental assisting programs.
Overview of Dental Assisting Programs
Dental assisting programs are offered at a variety of higher education institutions. The costs of these programs will vary depending on length, type of training, and regional differences. Among the institutions that offer dental assistant training are trade/vocational schools, community colleges, and certification programs in four-year colleges.
Coursework at these institutions can include introduction to infection control, restorative dentistry, charting, radiology, and dental specialties. Externships are usually required and included in the cost of tuition.
Cost Breakdown of Dental Assisting Programs
The cost of programs will vary depending on whether the program offers a diploma or an associate’s degree.
Diploma Program: Programs where students earn a diploma upon completion are typically available at vocational schools that also offer flexible schedules and unique student services. These programs may be shorter in length allowing for quicker entry into the workforce, and will likely require only the coursework necessary to become a dental assistant. Unless the program also provides certification, students will need to complete that process after graduation. Tuition costs can range from $3,000-$13,000 .
Associate’s Degree: An Associate’s Degree in dental assisting is usually obtained at a community college, either public or private. These programs are typically longer in length and may require full-time enrollment to finish degree work in two years, and could include general education coursework. According to a 2019 report, the majority of students in the U.S. pay between $6,000 and $15,000* in tuition per year for both public and private two-year schools .
*These tuition ranges do not include room and board, books and supplies, transportation or other expenses and fees.
These exams may be offered as a part of a dental assisting program and included in the cost of tuition, or they may need to be taken off campus for an additional cost.
For example, Delta Technical College (Delta Tech) students at the Ridgeland, MS campus enrolled in the Dental Assisting Program, will sit for the DANB Radiology Health & Safety (RHS) and the Infection Control Exam (ICE), which are two of the three tests that are required for a dental assistant certification. The cost of these exams is included in the total cost for Delta Tech’s Dental Assisting Program.
How Do You Pay for Dental Assisting School?
Financial aid is available to qualifying students attending vocational and trade schools and can include:
- Federal Grants
- Federal Low-Interest Student Loans
- GI Bill Assistance
- The Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
Begin your Path to Become a Dental Assistant
The Financial Aid Office at Delta Tech is available to assist with financial important paperwork and answer any questions about tuition and fees. If you have questions about Delta Tech programs, please contact the Admissions Team.
Sources: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-6  https://www.medcerts.com/blog/how-much-does-it-cost-to-become-a-dental-assistant  https://www.valuepenguin.com/student-loans/average-cost-of-college