Article

Top 10 Certified Dental Assistant Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certified dental assistant certifications available to help aspiring dental assistants pursue their career goals.

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications are important for a certified dental assistant in the job market because they demonstrate that the candidate has the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out the duties of a dental assistant. Certification also shows employers that a candidate is dedicated to their profession, which can make them more attractive to potential employers. Additionally, having certifications can open up opportunities for advancement or higher pay within the field. Certifications also provide a sense of credibility and professionalism, which can help a certified dental assistant stand out among other applicants.

This article reviews some of the most beneficial certifications for Certified Dental Assistants and explores how they can help to enhance their career prospects.

What are Certified Dental Assistant Certifications?

Certified Dental Assistant Certification is an official recognition that a dental assistant has achieved the highest level of professional development within the field. It is designed to ensure that dental assistants have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide safe, high-quality care for their patients. To become certified, a dental assistant must pass a comprehensive examination administered by the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA).

Having Certified Dental Assistant Certification can help in several ways. For example, it provides potential employers with an assurance that the applicant has met certain standards of excellence and is competent in providing quality dental care. Additionally, having this certification may open up more job opportunities and higher pay rates, as many employers prefer to hire individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to the profession through certification. Finally, having this certification can also be beneficial when applying for advanced education programs or seeking promotions within a dental office.

Pro Tip: When considering a certified dental assistant certification, make sure to research the requirements and qualifications for the program to ensure it meets your needs. Additionally, make sure to inquire about any continuing education or recertification requirements after obtaining the certification.

Related: What does a Certified Dental Assistant do?

Top 10 Certified Dental Assistant Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Certified Dental Assistants today.

1. Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)

A Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) is a professional who has completed a specialized program and has passed a certification exam to become certified in dental assisting. The CDA credential is the highest level of recognition for dental assistants, and it demonstrates that they have demonstrated proficiency in the field.

The requirements to become a CDA vary by state, but generally include completing an accredited dental assistant program and passing the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) certification exam. Most programs take between nine months and two years to complete, depending on the type of program chosen.

In order to take the DANB certification exam, applicants must have completed an accredited program or have at least five years of experience as a dental assistant. The exam consists of three sections: General Chairside Assisting (GC), Radiation Health and Safety (RHS), and Infection Control (ICE). Once all three sections are passed, applicants will be awarded their CDA credential.

The cost to become a CDA varies based on the type of program chosen and whether or not you need to take additional courses or prep classes for the DANB exam. Generally, tuition for an accredited program can range from $2,000 - $5,000, while prep classes for the DANB exam can range from $500 - $1,000. Additionally, there is an application fee of $125 for the DANB exam and an annual renewal fee of $50 once you’ve been certified.

2. Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)

Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) is a certification program that provides orthodontic assistants with the knowledge and skills necessary to assist orthodontists in providing quality patient care. The COA certification program was developed by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) to recognize and validate the professional competency of orthodontic assistants.

The COA program consists of three parts: a written exam, an online course, and a clinical evaluation. The written exam is administered by the AAO and consists of multiple-choice questions related to orthodontics, patient care, anatomy, physiology, and other topics. The online course covers topics such as infection control, medical emergencies, patient communication, and other topics related to orthodontics. The clinical evaluation is conducted by an AAO-approved evaluator at an approved facility.

It typically takes 6-12 months to complete all three components of the COA program. To become certified as a COA, you must pass all three components of the program within one year of enrolling in it.

The cost for the COA program varies depending on your location and whether you are a member or nonmember of the AAO. In general, nonmembers can expect to pay between $400-$600 for the entire program while members will pay around $200-$300.

3. Certified Dental Practice Management (CDPMA)

Certified Dental Practice Management (CDPMA) is a certification program offered by the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM). It is designed to provide dental office managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage and lead their practice.

The CDPMA certification process consists of two parts: an online course and an in-person exam. The online course covers topics such as dental office management, patient relations, financial management, marketing, insurance billing and coding, and human resources. The in-person exam consists of multiple choice questions covering all of the topics covered in the online course.

To get certified, you must complete both the online course and pass the in-person exam with a score of 80% or higher. The cost for the entire CDPMA certification package is $595 USD. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your official CDPMA certificate from AADOM.

The entire process typically takes about 6 weeks to complete from start to finish; however, this can vary depending on how quickly you are able to complete the online course and take the in-person exam.

4. Certified Radiography Technician (CRT)

A Certified Radiography Technician (CRT) is a professional who operates X-ray equipment to produce radiographic images for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. The CRT must be able to identify the appropriate radiation exposure settings, understand the anatomy of the body part being examined, and accurately position the patient for imaging.

In order to become a CRT, you must complete an accredited radiography program and pass a certification exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Most programs take two years or less to complete and include courses in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, radiation protection, patient positioning, imaging techniques and pathology. Upon successful completion of the program and passing of the certification exam, you will receive your CRT credential.

The cost of becoming a CRT varies depending on where you attend school; however, most programs cost between $5,000-$10,000. Additionally, there is an ARRT fee for taking the certification exam which is currently $200.

Overall becoming a Certified Radiography Technician requires dedication to learning about radiography and completing an accredited program as well as passing an ARRT certification exam.

5. Certified Oral Surgery Assistant (COSA)

Certified Oral Surgery Assistant (COSA) is a certification program offered by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of competency in assisting oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the performance of surgical procedures.

To become a COSA, applicants must have at least one year of full-time experience as an oral surgery assistant, or two years of part-time experience. They must also complete an approved educational program in oral surgery technology and pass an exam administered by AAOMS.

The cost for the COSA certification program varies depending on which educational program you choose to take. Most programs cost between $1,000-$2,000. After completing the educational program and passing the exam, there is an additional fee to receive your certification from AAOMS. This fee is currently $250.

6. Certified Dental Laboratory Technician (CDLT)

A Certified Dental Laboratory Technician (CDLT) is a professional who has achieved certification in the field of dental laboratory technology. The CDLT certification is awarded by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBCDLT). This certification demonstrates mastery of the knowledge and skills necessary to perform as a dental technician.

It typically takes two years to complete the requirements for CDLT certification. The first year consists of completing an accredited dental laboratory technology program or equivalent coursework. Upon completion, the individual must pass both written and practical examinations administered by NBCDLT.

To get certified, individuals must submit an application to NBCDLT along with proof of successful completion of an accredited program or equivalent coursework, and payment of a fee. After submitting the application, individuals will be notified when they can schedule their examinations.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on whether you are already enrolled in a program or need to take additional courses to meet the requirements. The fee for taking the exams is approximately $500 USD plus any additional fees associated with enrolling in a program or taking extra courses if needed.

7. Certified Periodontal Dental Assistant (CPDA)

Certified Periodontal Dental Assistant (CPDA) is a certification program for dental assistants who have completed specialized training in periodontology. The CPDA program is administered by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). It is designed to recognize the knowledge and skills necessary to provide quality periodontal care.

The CPDA program consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, infection control, instrumentation, and patient education. The practical exam assesses the candidate’s ability to perform clinical procedures related to periodontal care.

The written exam can be taken online or at an AAP-approved testing center. The practical exam must be taken in person at an AAP-approved testing center. Candidates must pass both exams in order to become certified.

The cost of the CPDA program varies depending on the location of the testing center and whether or not you need to purchase study materials or take additional courses prior to taking the exams. Generally speaking, it will cost between $500-$1,000 USD for the entire program.

It typically takes 6-12 months to complete all requirements for becoming certified as a CPDA.

8. National Entry Level Dental Assistant Certification (NELDA)

The National Entry Level Dental Assistant Certification (NELDA) is a certification program that provides entry-level dental assistants with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform basic dental assisting tasks. It is an online program offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

To obtain the NELDA certification, applicants must complete a series of courses, including a four-hour Infection Control Course and a two-hour Radiation Health and Safety Course. Upon completion of these courses, applicants must pass a written exam as well as a practical skills test. The entire process takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks to complete.

The cost of obtaining the NELDA certification varies depending on the number of courses taken and the type of examination required. Generally, it costs between $300 and $400 for all materials, including course fees and exam fees.

In addition to passing the exams, applicants must also meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for NELDA certification. These include being at least 18 years old, having completed high school or its equivalent, and having no criminal record related to healthcare or patient care.

9. Certified Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA)

Certified Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) is a certification program for dental assistants in the United States that allows them to perform certain tasks under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. These tasks include taking impressions, placing and carving restorations, removing sutures, and other duties. To become an EFDA, a dental assistant must complete an accredited educational program and pass the Certified Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) exam.

The length of time it takes to get an EFDA certification depends on the individual's background and experience. Generally speaking, it can take up to two years to complete an EFDA program, depending on how quickly you are able to learn and apply the material.

To get an EFDA certification, you must first complete an accredited educational program. Most programs require at least one year of college-level coursework in subjects such as anatomy and physiology, dental materials science, radiology, pharmacology, pathology, and dental office management. Once you have completed your coursework successfully, you will need to take the Certified Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) exam administered by either the American Board of Dental Examiners or the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations.

The cost of becoming an EFDA varies depending on which school you attend and what type of financial aid is available. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $1,500-$3,000 per semester for most programs. Additionally, there are fees associated with taking the EFDA exam which can range from $100-$200 depending on where you take it.

10. National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC-DLT).

The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC-DLT) is a voluntary certification program administered by the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL). The NBC-DLT certification is designed to recognize the professional excellence of dental laboratory technicians. It is an independent, third-party assessment of an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities related to the field of dental laboratory technology.

To become certified, individuals must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having a minimum of two years' experience in the field and passing a written examination. The exam consists of both a written and practical component that covers topics such as dental anatomy, materials science, fabrication techniques, and business management.

The process typically takes three to six months from start to finish. To begin the process, applicants must complete an application form and submit it along with supporting documentation such as proof of experience in the field. Once approved, applicants can then register for the exam and pay the required fee. After successfully passing both components of the exam, applicants will receive their certification.

The cost for taking the NBC-DLT exam varies depending on where you take it; however, it typically ranges from $400-$500 USD.

Do You Really Need a Certified Dental Assistant Certificate?

A certified dental assistant certificate is an important qualification for those who want to work in the field of dental assisting. It can open up a number of career opportunities and provide valuable experience and knowledge that will be useful in the workplace.

The most obvious benefit of obtaining a certified dental assistant certificate is that it gives you credibility as a professional. By demonstrating your commitment to the profession, employers will take notice and trust that you are capable of performing the duties required of a dental assistant. Additionally, having a certified dental assistant certificate allows you to apply for higher-paying positions, since employers know that you have met certain educational standards and possess the necessary skills to succeed in the job.

Another advantage of having a certified dental assistant certificate is that it can help you stay up-to-date with the latest developments in dentistry. As technology advances, so do the techniques used by dentists and hygienists, which means staying informed on these changes is essential for anyone working in this field. Having a certification ensures that you are familiar with current practices, making your work more efficient and effective.

Finally, having a certified dental assistant certificate proves that you are dedicated to your profession and willing to invest time and effort into furthering your career. This can give employers confidence in hiring you or promoting you within their organization. Additionally, it may also lead to better job prospects down the line as employers look for qualified individuals who have taken initiative to get educated on their own time.

In conclusion, obtaining a certified dental assistant certificate can be beneficial in numerous ways when pursuing a career as a dental assistant. Not only does it give employers confidence in your abilities but it also helps keep you up-to-date on new developments in dentistry and shows them your dedication to the profession. Ultimately, if you are looking for long-term success as a dental assistant, obtaining this certification is well worth considering.

Related: Certified Dental Assistant Resume Examples

FAQs About Certified Dental Assistant Certifications

1. What certifications are available for dental assistants?

Answer: The most common certification is the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification, which is offered through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Other certifications include the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) and the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) certifications.

2. How do I become a certified dental assistant?

Answer: To become a certified dental assistant, you must complete an accredited dental assisting program and pass the DANB’s CDA exam. You may also need to complete additional coursework or exams depending on the type of certification you are seeking.

3. How long does it take to get certified as a dental assistant?

Answer: It typically takes six months to two years to become a certified dental assistant, depending on your educational background and experience level.

4. Is there an age requirement for becoming a certified dental assistant?

Answer: Yes, you must be at least 18 years old in order to become a certified dental assistant.

5. Are there any continuing education requirements for maintaining my certification?

Answer: Yes, to maintain your certification you will need to complete continuing education courses every three years in order to renew your certification.