Why CDA certification is more important than ever

woman smiling while reading a letter

As DANB celebrates the 75th anniversary of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification this year, we’ve heard from many certificants about what this credential has meant to their careers. There are many benefits to holding CDA certification, but some of the most commonly reported are that it aids in dental assistants’ professional development, brings them pride, and helps them feel more confident about their knowledge and performing their everyday duties.

“I feel that CDA certification is a representation of my hard work and dedication to the field and education,” says Lindsey, CDA.

Debra, CDA, agrees: “It is my identity and has opened doors that probably would not have happened without it. I have a great job due to certification.”

It’s clear that even though the dental assisting profession is weathering challenges, such as nationwide staffing shortages, earning and maintaining CDA certification is just as important as ever.

It demonstrates knowledge.

Dental assistants are entering the profession through many different avenues, and fewer are attending CODA-accredited programs. As a result, dental assistants aren’t necessarily receiving the same training. Certification is a baseline standard that shows you have the necessary knowledge and have kept up with continuing education. In DANB’s latest salary and satisfaction survey, CDAs indicated that increased knowledge was one of the top benefits of certification.

“I thoroughly believe that to be at the top of your game, you have to stay current with changes in materials, technology, and procedures used in dentistry,” says Leslie, CDA. “The CDA credential not only gives me professional pride, but also holds me accountable to stay current with my continuing education.”

It opens new opportunities.

At a time when dental assistants may be feeling overworked and underappreciated, certification can provide new career opportunities. When a dental practice sees “CDA” behind your name, they know you have qualifications and skills to perform the job competently. Holding certification demonstrates that you are experienced, up to date on dental knowledge, and committed to patients, colleagues, and the profession.

“It proves to an employer that I take my job and the profession seriously and want to excel,” says Nancy, CDA.

Niotha, CDA, has also seen positive impacts on her career because she’s certified.

“My career has evolved since I earned CDA certification,” she says. “I have been working with a company that values my dental knowledge.”

If you’re seeking career advancement and new responsibilities, holding certification can unlock new doors. You can pursue a lead dental assistant role, expanded functions, teaching, or office management. Many CDAs work in public health or even sales.

Read more: Signs it’s time to change dental assisting jobs

It’s a source of pride.

Perhaps the most important reason, holding certification is a point of pride for those who earn it. In fact, pride is one of the top benefits of certification, according to DANB’s Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey. More than half of CDAs surveyed felt that increased pride and confidence are some of the primary benefits of certification. Four in five certificants said they feel that dental assisting is a career, not just a job. With CDA certification, your colleagues and patients can count on you — and you can know you’re giving them your very best.

“I worked hard for it, and I take pride in the time, energy, and effort I put into earning my CDA certification,” explains Helen, CDA. “Being a CDA sets an individual apart not only in knowledge but in skill as well. Without earning CDA certification, I don’t think I would deliver the same level of care to patients that I see.”

It fosters career commitment.

Prioritizing continuing education (CE) and being a lifelong learner can reinvigorate your enthusiasm for your career. Maintaining DANB certification requires completing at least 12 CE credits each year. This is an opportunity to learn about the latest in dentistry, but it can also help reignite your passion for the profession as you discover new ways to approach patient care, infection control, and other essential duties. At a time with a shortage of dental assistants, having career commitment is more valuable than ever — and employers also take notice.

“My CDA certification proved to potential employers that I am knowledgeable and passionate about making a difference in people’s oral health,” says Chrissy, CDA.

“Like a college degree, certification shows commitment and drive — and that I value my career,” explains Dixie, CDA.

Read more: 3 ways Certified Dental Assistants stand out