Dental assistants are very important in a dentist’s office because they help with all the extra duties including preparing patients for procedures, processing x-rays, and sterilizing equipment. It is a highly marketable career with endless possibilities for growth. In fact, according to a survey from the Occupational Employment Statistics program, there were an estimated 7,030 dental assistants employed in Arizona in 2017. The question most people ask however is, do you need to go to dental school to become a dental assistant? Here is a comprehensive look at some of the qualifications you need:
- High School Diploma: Fortunately, you do not need years of schooling to become a dental assistant. In most counties including those Arizona, all you need is a high school diploma or a GED. You will have better chances of getting the job if you did biology and chemistry in high school but most of the training will be offered when you are working in a dentist’s office.
- Radiology Proficiency Certification: While a dental assistant can do quite a number of duties without any formal training, the state of Arizona requires you to undertake other dental assistant training courses such as a certificate in radiology proficiency if you want to get into more advanced duties. In this case, you have to go to dental college and be trained on all aspects related to x-rays and radiography.
- Coronal Polishing Certification: A dental assistant can also decide to go to dental school and advance their career by doing a certificate in coronal polishing. This will help them to know the dental anatomy well and be able to carry out more serious tasks.
- Certified Dental Assistant: This is the professional qualification for dental assistants who want to be more hands-on in the dentist’s office. To qualify for the CDA exams, you must pass three component exams and have at least 3500 hours of experience in the dental office. Research shows that 70% of dental assistants who hold DANB’s CDA certification have received a raise in their current position and this proves that CDA certification is worth it.
Anybody above 18 years can become a dental assistant if they have a GED. If you are looking for a rewarding career with great prospects, you can start as an ordinary dental assistant and then work your way up by taking up practical dental assistant training from dental school and real-world experience.