Dental Assisting Program Overview

Earn your diploma in as little as 10 months

Dental Assistants play an essential role by providing critical support to dentists, dental hygienists, and patients in any dental practice. It’s an ideal career for those who enjoy working with their hands while caring for patients. We offer a hybrid-online Dental Assisting program to help you gain the necessary skills to embark on this rewarding career path. By enrolling in our Dental Assisting program, you can earn your diploma in as little as 10 months.

Our curriculum combines online instruction with in-person simulations and supervised externships to prepare you for your first job as a Dental Assistant. Course topics cover key aspects of the profession, including sterilization techniques, medical emergencies, dental X-rays, impressions, and dental instruments.

If you are ready to embark on a rewarding career as a Dental Assistant, submit a request form today and speak with one of our admissions representatives.

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I had amazing teachers who really went above and beyond for us. They have some of the biggest hearts I have ever seen.

- Kandance S. (Unitek Graduate)

Frequently Asked Questions

What you need to know

Incoming Dental Assisting students are welcome to enroll at any one of our campus locations in California:

Dental Assistants are valuable members of the healthcare team. They increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of first-rate care and perform a variety of tasks. These can range from assisting patients to taking X-rays, record keeping, and scheduling appointments.

Employment of Dental Assistants is expected to steadily increase. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of Dental Assistants will likely grow 11% by 2030. This progression is largely attributed to an increasing demand for preventive dental services, which the large baby-boomer population will need as they continue to age.

The time it takes to become a Dental Assistant depends on the type of training you’d like to pursue. Generally speaking, the length of a Dental Assisting program can range from nine months to a year. Some aspiring Dental Assistants will also be required to pass an exam before they can be considered for employment.

At Unitek College, we currently offer online classes to protect our students and staff during the pandemic.

Click here to read our DA registration disclosure.

Dental Assistant salaries depend on several factors. These might include location, experience, and education. As of May 2020, the average salary for Dental Assistants was $42,310. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest 10 percent earned up to $58,390 per year, or more.

Please note that wage data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or other third-party sources may not be an accurate reflection of all areas of the country, may not account for the employees’ years of experience, and may not reflect the wages or outlook of entry-level employees, such as graduates of our program. (accessed on 11/15/2021)

There are quite a few education paths aspiring Dental Assistants can take. Some states require DAs to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. There are also states that do not require Dental Assistants to receive formal training; instead, they acquire the skills they need through on-the-job training. However, many employers will not take the risk of hiring untrained applicants.

The Dental Assistant program at Unitek College can be completed in as little as 10 months. Students will build a strong foundation for their desired career, gaining the skills and experience needed to succeed as a Dental Assistant. The curriculum also includes a supervised externship.

Like most healthcare programs, the fees paid by each student can vary depending on their individual situation. A variety of financial aid options are available to students at Unitek. For more information, please reach out to a friendly admissions representative.

The cost of the Dental Assisting program will remain the same. However, if you are having difficulty making your in-school payments, we are more than willing to work with you. You will receive all your instruction and clinical hours as agreed upon in your enrollment agreement.

The academic teams are revising academic program schedules to re-incorporate the required hours for clinical, lab, and hands-on instruction. You will receive 100% of these required hours. By rearranging the academic calendar, we are making every effort for you to continue your education with as little impact on your graduation date as possible.

These elements of our program will be scheduled once it is safe to return to campus.

Quizzes and exams will be conducted entirely online. We are also working with vendors to provide remote proctoring.

Emergency Legislation passed on 3/18/2020 allows veterans to maintain the same level of funding despite our online delivery. Financial Aid representatives will be sending more information to our veterans via an alert.

Students who graduate from the program will receive from Unitek College certificates in Infection Control, Dental Practice Act, HIPAA, Radiology, Coronal Polishing, and Pit & Fissure Sealants. These certificates are not required for initial employment, but may be of value depending on a student’s particular career goals. Students who do not graduate from the program are ineligible to receive any of these certificates.

Graduates of the program may also be eligible to take various professional certification exams, including the California Registered Dental Assisting (RDA) exam and the Dental Assisting national Board (DANB) exam. Such credentials are not required to graduate or to gain initial employment, but may be of value depending on a student’s particular career goals. Faculty are available to advise students seeking to take such professional certification exams.

Unitek has some really genuine people. Intelligent and positive, they always tried their best to help me with ANYTHING I needed to help me succeed.

- Elizabeth L. (Unitek Graduate)

Dental Assisting Program Curriculum

In as little as 10 months, our hybrid program will prepare you for an entry-level position as a Dental Assistant. You will learn how to perform clinical tasks in a dental office, physician’s practice, or other healthcare settings.

Our curriculum will provide you with the knowledge, technical skills, and work habits of a Dental Assistant. It focuses on the treatment-room care of dental patients through in-class instruction, hands-on labs, and externship experiences.

By the end of our program, you will complete 27.5-semester credits and a 200-hour externship at a nearby healthcare facility. Class topics include dental terminology, chairside assisting for general and specialty dentistry, dental materials and prevention, dental radiology, and more.

Our Dental Assisting courses also cover the following topics:

  • Infection control and sterilization
  • Medical emergencies
  • Dental X-rays and impressions
  • Dental instruments
  • Oral evacuation
  • Prosthodontics
  • Pharmacology and pain control
  • Preventative dentistry
  • Assisting with oral surgery and tray setups

Dental Assisting program graduates will receive certificates in Infection Control, Dental Practice Act, HIPAA, Radiology, Coronal Polishing, and Pit & Fissure Sealants. In addition, graduates may be eligible to take various professional certification exams, such as the California Registered Dental Assisting (RDA) exam and the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exam. While these credentials are not required to graduate or gain initial employment, they can prove essential depending on your specific career goals.

Graduates of the Dental Assisting program are trained to:

  • Work in a dental office, clinic, or lab environment
  • Function as Dental Assistants to licensed dentists
  • Utilize current industry standard dental software
  • Work with digital dental technology

Dental Assisting Admissions Requirements

How do I apply?

Our admissions process is tailored to help you understand all the educational options surrounding your career goals.  Your admissions representative will guide you through every step of the enrollment process so that you feel comfortable, confident, and ready to begin your first day of classes. We also conduct a career planning session to learn and discuss your interests, goals, and career objectives.

To apply for the Dental Assistant program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Career planning session and admissions interview
  • Submit proof of high school education or equivalent
  • Admissions application
  • Entrance exam
  • Enrollment agreement
  • Financing arrangements and, if applicable, all documents needed to obtain an official award letter for Federal Student Aid
  • Submit proof of vaccinations

Dental Assisting Campus Locations

Contact any of our campuses to learn more about how to become a Dental Assistant or to enroll in the program.  Your future starts at Unitek College.

I would like to thank career services for prepping me for my externship and sharing their honest opinions regarding my career and my growth.

- Joseph E. (Unitek Graduate)

Tuition & Financial Aid

Out-of-pocket costs for our Dental Assisting program can vary depending on your situation. There are various financial aid options available to eligible students. Our financial aid team is ready to help you develop a financial plan specifically tailored to your educational goals.

Our financial aid options can cover many college expenses, such as:

  • Tuition
  • Books
  • Transportation
  • Computer equipment
  • Room and board
  • Living expenses

 Please visit the School Catalog for more details.

Dental Assistant Career

Dental Assistant Duties & Responsibilities

Dental Assistants (DAs) play a major role in dental health. From disinfecting instruments to taking dental X-rays and assisting the dentist during exams, Dental Assistants must juggle multiple responsibilities on any given day. It’s their job to help dental offices run smoothly. In fact, Dental Assistants are often the first and last face a patient will see during their visit. They work in various healthcare settings, including dentistry facilities, hospitals, and medical clinics.

Dental Assistants have great interpersonal skills, and they prefer to work with their hands rather than in front of a computer all day. They are responsible for putting their patients at ease while offering them encouragement. Furthermore, Dental Assistants must also have an eye for detail while maintaining impressive dexterity in supporting their dentists or while treating their patients.

Their duties vary according to state law but may include any of the following job requirements:

  • Ensure that patients are comfortable in the dental chair
  • Prepare patients and the work area for treatments and procedures
  • Assist with oral surgeries
  • Sterilize dental instruments
  • Hand instruments to the dentist during procedures
  • Evacuate oral cavities and keep a patient’s mouth dry by using suction hoses and other equipment
  • Make dental impressions
  • Instruct patients in proper oral hygiene
  • Take and process dental X-Rays and complete lab tasks under the direction of a dentist
  • Install fixed prosthodontics
  • Maintain Inventory for dental practices
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Work with patients on billing and payment

Moreover, Dental Assistants are allowed to perform the following procedures in states like California:

  • Fluoride application: Fluoride is put directly on the teeth as another anti-cavity measure.
  • Topical anesthetic application: Dental assistants apply topical anesthetic to an area of a patient’s mouth, temporarily numbing the area to help prepare a patient for procedures.

Dental Assisting Salary & Job Outlook

Dental Assisting can offer a steady source of income. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary of Dental Assistants is about $42,000. Those in the top 10th percentile can earn as much as $59,000 or more per year.

Upon completing your DA training at Unitek, you will be prepared for employment in some states. Others may require that you pass an exam. Demand for Dental Assistants is expected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. According to the BLS, ongoing research linking oral health and general health will likely continue to increase the demand for preventive dental services, which will drive dentists to hire more assistants.

To learn more, click here to view our comprehensive career guide on how to become a Dental Assistant.

Please note that wage data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or other third-party sources may not be an accurate reflection of all areas of the country, may not account for the employees’ years of experience, and may not reflect the wages or outlook of entry-level employees, such as graduates of our program. (accessed on 11/15/2021)

Dental Assistant program student

Dental Assisting Program Accreditation

Unitek College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

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The Dental Assisting program is programmatically approved by the Dental Board of California.

Dental Board of California Accreditation