The dental assistant certification prepares students to work alongside dentists to promote oral health. They're structured to give students experience with laboratory equipment and dental procedures, which will enable them to help dentists carry out their responsibilities. Potential dental assistants will learn to interact with patients and educate them on taking care of their teeth as well. Finally, dental assistant programs will also teach students how to evaluate and control infections and diseases. Upon graduating, students are qualified become professional dental assistants.
The vocational certificate is the most common dental assisting certificate program. It is specifically designed to give students the career skills they will need to be successful. Programs generally last one year, although students who take classes on a part-time basis may take longer to earn the certificate. Classes include dental office management, anatomy, physiology, and preventative dentistry. Students may also take dental psychology and clinical procedures classes.
Students who take the dental assisting certification online will complete all course work online. However, most certificate programs will also require students to complete internships and laboratory requirements. These cannot be completed online, but students should be able to find an office or school in their local area where they can gain hands-on experience.
There are no post-baccalaureate certificates in dental assisting, but students can choose to earn certificates in dental hygiene instead. Dental hygiene programs teach students about the infectious diseases that can affect the mouth. They also teach students how to communicate with patients, showing them how to brush their teeth, floss, and use dental products effectively. Dental hygienists usually work in dental offices, although some may have their own practices.
As with certificates in dental assisting, certificate programs in dental hygiene require hands-on experience. Students will likely need to complete clinical and internship requirements in their areas. However, they should be able to submit all other course work online. The program can take around a year to complete.
Although there are no post-master’s certificates in dental assisting, students who want to earn higher education can pursue a post-master’s certificate in dental hygiene. This is ideal for students who want to stay on top of current dental research and who want to qualify for supervisory or management positions. Many who earn their post-master’s certificate can also open up their own practices.
While enrolled, students will learn about current research in dental care. They will conduct research and explore new ways to approach oral help. They will also hone their communication skills. The best post-master’s certificate programs will include an internship component. In total, the certificate should take around a year to complete, depending on how many classes students take each term.
What’s Next for Dental Assistant Certificate Holders?
Upon earning a certificate in dental assisting, students typically go on to become professional dental assistants. The position earns around a median salary of $35,390 annually, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, although salary figures vary by location and employer. The field is growing rapidly and has a strong job outlook as well. For students who earn certificates in dental hygiene, there is the option of becoming a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists can earn around $68,250 annually, the BLS reports.
Students interested in higher education can earn degrees in dental assisting or dental hygiene. Associate degrees help students qualify for careers, while a bachelor’s or master’s degree can help students qualify for advancement. Graduate degrees can also help students forge careers as postsecondary teachers. Those interested in high-level degrees also have the ability to attain a bachelor’s in nutrition.