If you've had a dental appointment recently, odds are a dental assistant helped you schedule the appointment, took your X-rays, explained your procedure, and, behind the scenes, sterilized instruments, ordered supplies, prepared the instrument trays, and maintained your treatment records!
DAs need to have excellent communication skills in order to set people at ease. They must also be organized, proficient writers, and prepared for the rigors of a full-time job that may require some evening hours.
So how do you get there?
Step 1: High School Preparation
Whether you're reading this as a high school student or as a graduate with some holes in your coursework to fill, you should make sure you have the basics covered: Science classes, Communication and writing courses, and Business management classes will all help prepare you.
Step 2: Get Dental Assisting Training
- Dental Assistant Certificate Program: 3 months – 1 year
- Dental Assistant Associate’s Degree program: 2 years
Step 3: Complete an Externship (Optional)
This can be a great way to get your feet wet on the job and to find out if you like the work and the responsibilities you'd have if you went pro. Externships also give you the opportunity to develop a speciality within dentistry, like orthodontics, pediatrics, or prosthodontics.
Step 4: Get Licensed
While the requirements vary from state to state, the most common ones are 1) completion of an accredited postsecondary educational program and 2) successfully completion of a practical or written exam.
Step 5: Get a Certification
Since requirements vary from state to state, there are a variety of certification options you can pursue. They all require different investments of time and money, so you should explore each of them and see which one is right for you.
- National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA™)
- Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA®)
- Certified Dental Assistant™ (CDA®)
- Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA®)
- Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA®)
Step 6: Advance Your Career (Optional)
Consider joining an association or pursuing additional certifications that will boost your profile as a dental assistant. You can also apply your existing credits and time logged towards a dental hygienist degree if you're interested in moving onwards and upwards.
How to Become a Dental Assistant
Read More at careerswiki.com
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