Dental Assistant Certification: How to Become a Certified Dental Assistant

A dental assistant certification can help you take the next step in your career path, learn how to become a certified dental assistant.
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Getting Your Dental Assistant Certification

Working as a dental assistant can be an excellent way to have a rewarding career in the field of dentistry.

Dental assistants work directly with patients, helping them care for their teeth and understand what is needed to ensure they can maintain oral health between visits.

If you’re considering a career in dentistry, you may be wondering about dental assisting certification and whether or not you need certification to start your career as a dental assistant.

This article will explain why you need a dental assisting certification and how to become a certified dental assistant.

Benefits of Certification

Most employers will require dental assistants to be certified and being certified will certainly always make you more competitive in the job market.

30 states require dental assistants to have some type of certification in order to perform certain dental assisting tasks.

Additionally, the 3 states below require dental assistants to obtain a state license or register with the state:

  • Iowa – Registration
  • Oklahoma – License
  • Washington – Registration

If your state does not require dental assistant certification, license, or registration that doesn’t mean you should just skip it. There are notable benefits to pursuing certification, even when it isn’t required for employment.

Some benefits of becoming certified include:

  • A certified dental assistant may be offered a higher rate of pay compared to a non-certified dental assistant.
  • Certification shows potential employers you are dedicated to the career and meeting high standards of care for patients
  • Certified assistants are frequently more confident and knowledgeable, even when they first begin a position, which leads to greater job success.
  • Certified assistants often report greater job satisfaction and lower rates of turnover.
  • Certified dental assistants can perform a broader scope and perform more tasks

Types of Certification

The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is the certification board for dental assistants in the United States. However, there are different types of certification available for dental assistants through this certification board.

These dental assistant certifications are:

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

Each of these certifications has its own test and set of skills and knowledge to acquire in order to pass and receive certification. The skills and knowledge for each type of certification is dependent on the use for each certification.

Each certifying exam has it’s own eligibility requirements and most of them require that you first graduate from an accredited dental assistant program before taking the exam.

The CDA is the most commonly-used certification, particularly at the beginning of a career. Another common type of dental assistant is the Registered Dental Assistant (RDA). This type of dental assistant is different from the CDA.

A Certified Dental Assistant receives certification from the DANB. On the other hand, the RDA receives licensure by meeting state requirements, which typically vary from state to state.

It’s important to remember that licensure as an registered dental assistant does not transfer from state to state because state requirements vary. Certified dental assistants, however, are more likely to be accepted in other states.

Whether your state requires certification or not, it’s a good idea to seek dental assisting certification before you start your career.

Not only will the certification program give you the skills and knowledge to be successful in your job, but it will show potential employers that you’re serious about doing your very best for their patients every day.

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