How Long Does It Take To Become A Dental Assistant? [Plus 3 Important Things To Consider]

Sep 27, 2021

How long does it take to become a dental assistant? Well, The field is growing faster than average and creating numerous opportunities for a rewarding career. If you’re looking for a profession in a medical field and are interested in oral anatomy, you should consider becoming a dental assistant. 

So, how long does it take to become a dental assistant? What do I need to become a dental assistant? Would I be a good fit for the career?” 

Let’s take a look at these questions! 

1. Why to Consider Becoming a Dental Assistant

There are numerous reasons to consider a career in dental assisting, not the least of which is job security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career is projected to grow by 11% by 2030. This is faster than average for all occupations. It’s also a decent-paying occupation with a median yearly wage of $44,940.


You’ll also want to take a look at yourself. If you’re compassionate and have a desire to help others, then becoming a dental assistant may be a good choice for you. Patience and resilience is also beneficial in dealing with anxious patients.

2. How to be the Best Dental Assistant

Anyone—with enough drive and practice—can learn the skills necessary to become a dental assistant, but some skills will put you at the front of the pack. Since you’re going to get up close and personal with people every day, you’ll want to make sure your communication and people skills are excellent.


Since dental visits are such a common cause of anxiety, you might want to research how to calm people’s anxieties and reassure them. This will help put people at ease and give you a leg up on your competition for dental assisting jobs.


Since dental assistants also perform a lot of administrative tasks—like record-keeping and scheduling appointments—so you’ll benefit from basic and advanced organizational skills. Customer service skills will also help you in the process of answering phones and making appointments. 

3. What You Need to Become a Dental Assistant

Now that we know a bit more about why you should become a dental assistant and some skills that will help you excel, let’s take a better look at the real question “how long does it takes to become a dental assistant?” and how you become one.


Some states will require you to complete a dental assisting program, but attending one is usually a good idea no matter your state’s requirements. Completing a dental assisting program is a good way to show potential employers that you’re dedicated, along with the assurance that you’ve received the hands-on training and education such programs provide. These programs usually last one or two years, though some—like Chattanooga College—offer eighteen-month programs. Such programs will allow you to learn everything you need without rushing or taking unnecessary time.


You’ll want to make sure you choose a program from a school that’s reputable, teaches everything you’ll need on the job, and has a reputation for preparing people for the state board exam.


Once you’ve completed a dental assisting program, you’ll want to get a license through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Though many states don’t require a license for entry-level dental assisting positions, the license will show employers you’re serious about the career and know what you’re doing. For someone who’s just starting out as a dental assistant, this will give you a serious advantage. Moreover, if you intend to specialize, then you will need a certification. 


The licensing process involves taking an exam after graduating from an accredited program or having a certain amount of work experience. The DANB exam consists of three parts: the General Chairside Assisting (GC) exam, the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam, and the Infection Control (ICE) exam. You’ll need to pass this exam with a cumulative score 400 (out of 900) in order to become certified. 


Once you earn that license, you’ll just need to find a dental assisting job and you’ll officially become a  dental assistant! So, how long does it take to become a dental assistant? Depending on the length of your program, this whole process can take anywhere from a year to over two years.


If you’re looking to at “how long does it take to become a dental assistant?”, it’ll help to know that the process usually only takes one to two years. While that may seem like a long time, it’s still a lower barrier to entry than many jobs that pay the same amount.


Want to learn more about becoming a dental assistant? Check out our Ultimate Guide: How to Become a Dental Assistant


If you’re looking to pursue a career in dental assisting and trying to find the right program for you, visit the page for our dental assisting program and sign up for a no-obligation advisor meeting!

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