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How Long Is Schooling for a Dental Assistant?

How Long Is Schooling for a Dental Assistant?

Dental assistant using a digital X-ray device to check a patient’s teeth

Individuals who want to enter a rewarding and fast-growing profession in the medical sector should consider becoming dental assistants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roles in dental assisting jobs are expected to grow 8% percent through 2031 — more rapidly than the average rate for all occupations.

As with other higher education programs, one of the main questions on prospective students’ minds is how long it will take to complete all necessary coursework to enter the workforce. At Northwestern College, we offer a high-quality dental assistant certificate program to prepare students in Oak Lawn, IL, and the greater Chicago area with the skills they need to thrive in dental assisting careers. Here, we discuss an estimated timeline for this program and detail other benefits of seeking your certificate.

Dental Assisting Program Credit Hour Requirements

Students enrolled in the dental assisting program at Northwestern College need to complete 48 credit hours of coursework to obtain their certificate. One credit hour indicates approximately an hour in class per week, along with a couple of hours of homework.

At most colleges, students must complete 60 credit hours to earn an associate’s degree. In general, this amount averages out to approximately two years of education. Northwestern College has designed its program for students to complete in just one year.

This accelerated process makes the program at Northwestern College ideal for students who are already working full-time but want to expand their career opportunities with training that will not take years to complete. Additionally, we offer flexible scheduling to ensure students can pursue their professional goals while meeting crucial life responsibilities with their families and current jobs.

Reasons to Become a Dental Assistant

Entering the workforce in a shorter amount of time than it takes to begin other careers in the medical field is not the only advantage of becoming a dental assistant. Here are some other motivations for people to pursue dental assisting:

  • Career advancement: With your experience and additional schooling, you may progress into a dental laboratory technician or hygienist role, giving you more responsibilities and possibly higher pay.
  • Low stress: Dentists tend not to experience the same overwhelming situations as other doctors. Therefore, working as a dental assistant may not produce the same level of burnout.
  • Flexibility: Some dental assistant roles offer the freedom to customize schedules, making it easier to find child care or attend to other important matters.
  • Specialization: Dental assistants can work in traditional dental offices or other places. Some also serve alongside orthodontists, oral surgeons, and other specialists.
  • Environment: Medical facilities tend to be cleaner than other job sites, including dentist’s offices. Working in a neat setting may boost your attitude when you come to work each day.

Why Choose the Dental Assistant Certificate Program?

At Northwestern College, you will obtain more than an expedited education when you enroll in the dental assistant certificate program. The topics discussed can give you the key competencies employers look for in applicants, potentially increasing your chances of securing a job. Skills you will develop in the program include:

  • Aiding with extra and intraoral examinations
  • Conducting dental laboratory processes
  • Helping dentists through medical emergencies
  • Leveraging conventional and digital strategies to form and mount dental radiographs
  • Logging patient information into dental records
  • Observing safety and infection control measures during patient visits

Following a hybrid model, the program features in-person and online classes. Students also obtain practical training through an externship. These classes are led by qualified educators with ample experience in the field. As students get closer to graduation, they may seek career services for help finding dental assisting positions, as well. The Office of Career Development and Alumni Relations provides job search skills and opportunities to network with recruiters.

Obtain Dental Assistant Schooling to Further Your Career

If you need an accelerated certificate program to launch your career in dental assisting, turn to Northwestern College. By taking a student-first and career-oriented approach to higher education, we provide you with the knowledge and resources you need to achieve your career goals. You can request information to learn more about the dental assistant certificate program at our campus in Oak Lawn, IL, and the greater Chicago area.