How to Become a Dental Assistant in 2023? Easy Steps

How to Become a Dental Assistant in 2023? Easy Steps

Consider how to  become a dental assistant, a rapidly growing and financially rewarding field. With some experience under your belt, you can play a vital role in a dental practice and contribute to enhancing the well-being of patients.

To begin your dental assistant career in 2023, it’s important to understand the necessary steps and certification process. This post will provide an overview of the requirements to become a dental assistant and help you get started on your path.

To pursue a career as a dental assistant in 2023, you’ll need to enroll in a dental assistant program that typically lasts for 9-12 months. 

This program equips you with the essential skills to work in a dental office. Before applying, ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements set by your state’s dental board for licensure.

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What Is a Dental Assistant?

A dental assistant is a healthcare professional who works in a dental office and provides support to the dentist or dental hygienist. 

They may perform a variety of tasks, such as preparing patients for dental procedures, sterilizing and arranging instruments, handing instruments to the dentist during procedures, taking X-rays, and scheduling appointments. 

They also educate patients on proper oral hygiene techniques and help maintain patient records. Strong communication and organizational skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work well with others are important qualities for a dental assistant.

How To Become a Dental Assistant: Easy Steps

To become a dental assistant, education is typically the first step. While some states may offer on-the-job training, pursuing a postsecondary dental assisting program is a common route to enter the field.

Here are some steps to become a dental assistant:

Complete a Dental Assistant Program

Dental assistant programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) are offered by vocational schools and community colleges. 

State requirements for additional education and training vary, but a high school diploma or GED is typically necessary to enroll in a program.

The dental assistant program takes 1-2 years and includes classroom and laboratory work covering teeth, gums, dental instruments, and CPR training.

It may be beneficial to participate in an externship prior to entering the workforce. This opportunity may be included in the dental assistant program or pursued independently, and can provide valuable insight into specialized areas such as restorative care or orthodontics.

Get Certificated Or Licensed

To embark on a profession as a dental assistant, acquiring the mandatory certification and licensure as per state regulations is crucial. This necessitates completion of a recognized dental assistant program and clearing the requisite examinations.

For individuals interested in pursuing a dental specialty, it may be beneficial to obtain additional DANB certifications. These certifications, which have specific exam focuses, include:

  • Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)
  • National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)
  • Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA)
  • Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA)
  • Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)

Get a Job

To begin your career as a dental assistant, it is advisable to apply for entry-level positions and emphasize your educational background, as well as any internship or volunteer work you have done. 

Creating a resume that highlights your familiarity with the professional environment, terminology, patient interactions, tools, and workflows can be useful.

Consider An Advanced Degree

After gaining some experience as a dental assistant, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene can enhance your prospects of better pay or job advancement. 

Credits from your previous coursework may be transferable to a bachelor’s program in dental hygiene or a related field of your preference.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

The role of a dental assistant involves collaborating with dentists to deliver patient care, aid in dental procedures, and perform administrative tasks. 

This includes preparing patients for dental treatments, maintaining and sterilizing dental equipment, providing assistance during dental procedures, performing x-rays, and prioritizing patient comfort. 

They may also be responsible for managing patient records, scheduling appointments, and overseeing office inventory.

Salary And Job Outlook Of Dental Assistant

The average annual salary of a dental assistant is around $38,660, which equates to an hourly wage of approximately $18.59.

Those seeking a flexible career path in a fast-growing industry may find dental assisting to be a promising option. According to the BLS, employment of dental assistants is expected to grow by 19% by 2026.

Careers In Dental Assistant

The job titles for dental assistants can differ based on the state’s naming conventions or the particular duties of the position.

Some job options in this field include:

  • Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
  • Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)
  • Certified Registered Dental Assistant
  • Expanded Function Dental Assistant
  • Expanded Duty Dental Assistant (EDDA)
  • Surgical Dental Assistant
  • Oral Surgery Assistant

Skills Required To Become a Dental Assistant

Apart from the education prerequisites, employers also seek dental assistants who possess qualities essential for excelling in the job. As per the BLS, some skills that dental assistants should possess are:

  • Dental assistants need to possess organizational skills to ensure that dental tools are readily accessible for the dentists.
  • Being meticulous and paying close attention to detail is crucial for dental assistants to comply with legislative regulations and adhere to industry best practices.
  • Dental assistants should possess strong interpersonal skills to foster positive relationships with patients and collaborate effectively with dentists.
  • Dental assistants must possess dexterity and be adept with their hands to execute delicate dental procedures.


Becoming a dental assistant in 2023 is a great career option for those who are passionate about helping people achieve and maintain healthy, beautiful smiles. With the right qualifications, training, and job experience, you can become a dental assistant in 2023 and start a rewarding career in the dental field. 

With the right dedication and hard work, you can become an invaluable asset to any dental office, and help improve the lives of many in the process. Contact us for more content like this!

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Become a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants can work in various settings, including private dental offices, clinics, hospitals, and dental schools. Some dental assistants may also find employment in public health settings or research facilities.

The expenses associated with becoming a dental assistant differ based on various factors such as program type, location, and duration. Typically, certificate programs cost between $1,000 to $7,000 while associate degree programs can cost up to $22,000. 

The typical pay for dental assistants in the US is approximately $18.88 per hour or $62,321 per year.

Depending on state regulations and employer preferences, employers may demand relevant work experience, an associate degree, or a certificate.

To become a registered dental assistant, you need to complete an accredited dental assisting program, pass the national DANB exam, and meet any additional requirements of your state.

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Sara Blauvelt
By Sara Blauvelt

Hey everyone, I am Sarah, an experienced career writer with a talent for breaking down complex career concepts into easily digestible content that helps job seekers succeed. Skilled career communicator, known for producing high-quality, data-driven content that provides valuable insights and strategies for career success.