Selecting a Dental Assisting School

Starting your dental assistant training

Becoming a dental assistant is an exciting career move with lots of possibilities. If you’re interested in pursuing this path, there are many dental assisting training options available. Learn what to look for in a dental assisting school and find the right program for you.

What to look for in a dental assisting school

Choosing a career as a dental assistant is a big decision, but it’s only the first step. What’s next is finding the right dental assistant school for you.

There are many dental assisting programs out there. Finding the right one for you can be challenging, with so many options available. There are many factors to think about, and of course cost is always a consideration. To help you sort through all the choices, we’ve compiled some tips and useful resources to help you narrow down your decision.

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Know your state’s dental assisting requirements

Learning your state’s dental assisting requirements is the first step in choosing the right educational path. Dental assisting requirements vary from state to state, so knowing what is required and which courses or programs are recognized in your state is critical. For most states, no education or training is required to work as an entry-level dental assistant. However, many states have education, training, or exam requirements that dental assistants must meet in order to perform certain duties or earn state credentials.

See your state’s requirements

Explore the types of dental assistant schools

After researching your state’s requirements, the next step is to explore the types of dental assisting programs that exist. There are a few different types of dental assistant schools out there. Learn more about the differences between different programs.


CODA-accredited dental assisting programs

Some dental assisting programs are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Completing courses or graduating from a CODA-accredited program is recognized or required in many states. Additionally, graduating from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program is one of the ways to be eligible to earn DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification.

State-approved courses and programs

Some states have their own list of courses or programs that are approved to be able to take dental radiographs or perform expanded functions. To find out if your state approves other dental assisting programs or courses, look up your state dental assisting requirements.

DANB-accepted programs for NELDA certification

For those who are new to dental assisting, DANB offers the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) certification. Dental assistants who are new to the profession but have completed some education or have some experience are eligible to earn DANB’s NELDA certification. If you’re interested, consider looking into one of the DANB-accepted programs.

Other dental assisting programs

There are many other types of dental assisting programs. Whichever route you choose, it is a good idea to make sure the school has some type of accreditation. You can check the status of any post-secondary school through the U.S. Department of Education handy look-up tool online. Look up a dental assisting school.