After completion of a dental assistant training program, most graduates pursue dental assistant certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).
Dental assistant certification can help a dental assistant become more appealing to employers. It proves to employers that you have mastered the skills needed to be successful in dental assisting, according to a general dental assistant job description. It also allows dental assistants to earn a higher annual salary. In fact, the reasons to pursue dental assistant certification far outweigh the effort needed to become certified.
How To Get Dental Assistant Certification
To attain dental assistant certification, candidates must:
- Graduate from an accredited dental assistant school
- Have current CPR certification
- Pass a written exam administered by DANB
The dental assistant certification exam is approximately 4 hours long and includes 320 questions. On a scale from 100 to 900, candidates must score at least 400 to become certified.
The certification exam contains 3 main sections:
- General Chairside Test – 120 questions
- Radiation Health and Safety – 100 questions
- Infection Control Test – 100 questions
Passing the dental assistant certification exam signifies that a dental assistant meets the highest level of professional competency and is prepared to perform as a dental assistant.
For dental assistants who attended a training program that was not accredited, two years of work experience are required before they are eligible to take the DANB exam and become certified. Dental assistant certification regulations vary from state to state as well, with some states recognizing subsections of the DANB exam for certification purposes.
Benefits of Dental Assistant Certification
Certified dental assistants receive career benefits, such as a higher dental assistant salary and the ability to find jobs more easily. They are also generally given more job responsibility, and thus gain experience faster.
In general, certified dental assistants:
- Earn more than non-certified dental assistants
- Are hired more often than non-certified dental assistants
- Are more prepared to answer questions during dental assistant job interviews
- Can perform better as a dental assistant
- Gain employer trust more easily than dental assistants who are not certified