Earning certification through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is a big achievement. Dental assistants who take on this challenge dedicate hours, weeks, and even months studying hard and preparing for the big exam. The day that a dental assistant passes the DANB exam and earns the letters to use after their name is one to celebrate.
Being able to use DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification mark is special, and dental assistants who are DANB certified say they are incredibly proud of their accomplishment.
But beyond holding CDA certification, these dental assistants also prove they stand out in their careers and in their dental practices in several ways. The results of DANB’s Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey show that the professional commitment it takes to earn DANB certification often extends into other career achievements and professional qualities.
These are just a few of the ways that CDA-certified assistants stand out in the dental practice.
1. Additional education
Dental assistants who hold CDA certification are more likely to have some higher education compared to those who are not certified. According to DANB’s survey, 44% of CDA certificants hold an associate degree or higher compared to 27% of non-certified assistants.
This may be because CDA certificants are lifelong learners who are passionate about professional development.
“My 48-year career has been so rewarding, more than I ever thought possible. I love what I do. I’m happy I ‘stayed the course’ and continued on in this path,” says Doreen, CDA.
What’s more, as part of the renewal requirements for maintaining DANB certification, dental assistants must complete continuing education (CE) every year, including mandatory CE in infection prevention and control. Dental assistants who hold CDA certification are continuously learning and staying up-to-date on the latest in dentistry.
2. Expanded functions
When dental assistants earn DANB’s CDA certification, they often don’t stop there. In fact, many go on to earn state-specific credentials. Of those surveyed, 42% of CDA certificants said they held a state-specific expanded functions credential, versus 22% of non-certified assistants.
While many states allow qualified dental assistants to perform state-specific expanded functions, not all of these states issue an expanded functions credential. Given this, it’s likely no surprise that 63% of CDA certificants said they performed expanded functions in the office — a higher percentage than the 37% of non-certified assistants who said they did.
In many states, DANB’s CDA certification is recognized or required to perform dental radiographic procedures or expanded functions. Dental assistants who hold CDA certification are more likely to climb the career ladder in their state and earn additional credentials. And for dental assistants who might move to a new state in the future, DANB certification can help them make the transition and stand out when looking for a new job.
“Becoming a CDA certificant has laid a great foundation and opened so many doors for me,” says Clyde, CDA. “When I moved, my state recognized DANB’s CDA certification so I didn’t have to start over. Also, I am now on my way to earn an expanded functions state credential.”
3. Career commitment
Dental assistants who earn CDA certification are demonstrating their commitment to their careers, and this dedication can be backed up by the numbers. According to DANB’s survey, dental assistants who held DANB’s CDA certification and had 6 or more years of dental assisting experience reported working for their current employer for 8.7 years on average, while those who were not certified and had the same amount of experience had been with their current employer for an average of 6 years.
Similarly, looking at those who were newer to the profession (fewer than 5 years’ dental assisting experience), CDA certificants had been with their current employer for 2.5 years on average, compared to the 1.8 years on average of those who were not DANB certified.
Terrie, CDA, has enjoyed over two decades of career satisfaction. “I am so glad I took a chance on going to school in this field and chose to become DANB CDA certified. It’s been a great 26 years spent in this profession — a lovely career that I know I will miss when my time comes to retire. I hope more people choose this career.”
Becky, CDA, agrees she’s grateful to have entered the dental assisting profession, and to have pursued DANB certification to take her career to the next level. This path has brought her many professional and personal rewards, plus peace of mind. “My career has helped me financially and kept me grounded,” Becky explains. “Mostly, I’m grateful for the job security, especially through tough times — for example, the pandemic.”