Dental Assisting Programs

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Dental assisting is a rewarding career that requires both technical and interpersonal skills. Just as there are many paths that lead to the decision to enter this exciting profession, there are also several ways to receive training. Primarily, they include:

  • On-the-job training (OJT)
  • A formal dental assisting program

If you choose to attend a dental assisting program, there are some things you should look for.

CODA-Accredited Programs

One of the eligibility requirements for earning DANB certification is graduating from a dental assisting program accredited by the American Dental Association's (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). By attending a CODA-accredited program, you can be assured that it reflects CODA’s high professional and ethical standards. According to the ADA, there are currently about 250 CODA-accredited dental assisting programs in the United States.

CODA-Accredited Dental Assisting Programs

DANB-Accepted Programs for NELDA Certification

There are three educational pathways and one work experience pathway that meet the requirements to earn DANB’s National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) certification. The three educational pathways include:

  • Graduating from an approved post-secondary dental assisting program that is NOT accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation
  • Graduating  from a U.S. Department of Labor job corps dental assisting program
  • Graduating from an approved high school dental assisting program

To learn more about the eligibility requirements for DANB’s NELDA certification, download a NELDA application packet.

DANB-Accepted Dental Assisting Programs for NELDA Certification

Voc-Tech Programs

Vocational-Technical (Voc-Tech) dental assisting programs are usually offered at community colleges or career centers. The programs on DANB’s Voc-Tech list are not CODA-accredited. Therefore, they do not fulfill some of the eligibility requirement pathways for the CDA/GC, COA/OA, CPFDA or CRFDA exams. This list is provided as a reference for information requested on the RHS and ICE exam applications. Programs are added to this list upon request. Please note: The programs on this list may not be accepted for DANB’s NELDA certification. Please see the DANB-accepted dental assisting programs if you are looking to earn DANB’s NELDA certification.

Voc-Tech Dental Assisting Programs

A Note About Accreditation

When selecting a dental assisting program, look for CODA accreditation or accreditation by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Accredited institutions typically charge by credit hours, course or semester. Be cautious of an institution that charges less than others or offers shortcuts to earn a degree. 

DANB’s Exam Eligibility Requirements

Graduating from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program is one of the ways to be eligible to take certain DANB exams. Learn about the eligibility requirements for DANB exams.

Eligibility Requirements