Top 10 Registered Dental Assistant Certifications
This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for registered dental assistants, including the requirements and benefits of each.
Published 15 min read
Certifications are important for registered dental assistants because they demonstrate a level of professional competency and knowledge that employers value. Certified dental assistants have earned a credential that shows they possess the skills, knowledge and expertise necessary to perform their job effectively. They also demonstrate commitment to their profession, as certification requires ongoing continuing education and recertification. Certifications may also make a dental assistant more competitive in the job market, as employers may prefer candidates who have obtained additional qualifications.
The purpose of this article is to review the top certifications for Registered Dental Assistants and explain how they can help boost a Registered Dental Assistant's career.
What are Registered Dental Assistant Certifications?
Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) certification is a credential that recognizes dental assistants who have demonstrated their knowledge and clinical competency in the field. It is issued by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) after an individual has passed the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam.
Holding an RDA certification can provide a number of benefits for both dental assistants and employers. For starters, it demonstrates that a dental assistant has met the educational and clinical standards set forth by DANB. This can help to increase patient confidence in the quality of care they will receive from a qualified RDA.
Additionally, certified RDAs may have access to more job opportunities than those without certification due to their proven qualifications and expertise. Employers are often willing to pay higher wages for employees with RDA certification as well, making it an attractive job prospect for many individuals seeking employment in the field of dentistry.
Finally, having an RDA certification can also make it easier for dental assistants to complete continuing education requirements and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in their profession. In some states, registered dental assistants may be eligible for additional duties or expanded responsibilities as well.
Pro Tip: Make sure to keep up with continuing education requirements for registered dental assistant certification. Staying current on your certifications will ensure that you are providing quality care to patients and staying up-to-date on the latest industry standards.
Related: What does a Registered Dental Assistant do?
Top 10 Registered Dental Assistant Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Registered Dental Assistants today.
1. Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
A Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) is a professional who has completed an accredited dental assistant program and passed the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam. The CDA is responsible for providing chair-side assistance to the dentist during dental procedures, taking and developing x-rays, sterilizing instruments, preparing materials for restorations, and performing other duties as assigned by the dentist.
It typically takes between one to two years to complete a dental assistant program and become eligible to take the CDA exam. Most programs are offered through community colleges or technical schools. To get certified, you must pass both a written and practical exam administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). The cost of the CDA exam varies depending on where you take it but generally ranges from $300-$400.
2. Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)
A Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) is a dental professional who has completed a state-approved educational program and passed the state board exam. RDA's are responsible for providing chairside assistance to dentists during dental procedures, taking impressions, and performing other duties as assigned.
In order to become an RDA, you must complete an accredited dental assisting program which typically takes one year or less to complete. The program includes both classroom instruction and clinical experience in a dental office setting. After completing the program, you must pass the state board exam in order to obtain your license.
The cost of becoming an RDA varies depending on the school and program you choose. Generally speaking, tuition for a one-year program can range from $2,000-$5,000. Additional costs may include textbooks, supplies, licensing fees, and other miscellaneous expenses.
3. Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)
Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) is a designation given to individuals who have completed an accredited orthodontic assistant program and passed the certification exam. The COA credential is designed to recognize orthodontic assistants who have achieved a high level of knowledge and skill in the field.
The COA certification program typically takes about six months to complete, depending on the student’s availability and commitment. It includes both classroom instruction and hands-on experience in a clinical setting. Students must complete coursework in topics such as dental anatomy, patient care, infection control, radiography, dental materials, and orthodontics.
To become certified as an Orthodontic Assistant, you must first complete an accredited orthodontic assistant program at a college or technical school. Once you have completed the program, you can then apply for the COA certification exam administered by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
The cost of becoming certified as an Orthodontic Assistant varies depending on the institution offering the program and other factors such as books and supplies. Generally speaking, it can range from $3,000 to $7,000 or more for tuition alone. Additional costs may include textbooks, uniforms, lab fees, and other expenses related to completing the program.
4. Certified Oral Radiography Technician (CORT)
Certified Oral Radiography Technician (CORT) is a certification program offered by the American Dental Association (ADA). It is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a high level of competency in the practice of oral radiography. The CORT credential demonstrates that an individual has met the minimum requirements for competency and safety in the practice of oral radiography.
To become certified, an individual must complete a course of study approved by the ADA and pass a comprehensive written exam. The course typically takes about two years to complete and includes both classroom instruction and clinical experience. The cost of the program varies depending on the institution offering it, but typically ranges from $2,000 to $4,000.
In order to sit for the exam, applicants must submit proof of completion of an approved program as well as their application fee ($225). Once they have passed the exam, they will be awarded their CORT credential and can use it to demonstrate their expertise in oral radiography.
5. Certified Dental Technician (CDT)
A Certified Dental Technician (CDT) is a professional who has been trained and certified to perform specialized dental laboratory work. CDTs are responsible for creating prosthetic devices such as dentures, crowns, bridges, orthodontic appliances and implants. They also fabricate custom-made removable partial dentures, night guards and sports mouth guards.
It typically takes two to three years of education and training in a dental technology program to become a CDT. This includes courses in anatomy and physiology, materials science, dental lab procedures, equipment use and safety protocols. After completing the program, students must pass the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology exam in order to receive their certification.
To get the CDT certification, students must first complete an accredited dental technology program at a college or university that offers this type of training. After completing the program, students can take the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology exam which is administered by the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL). The exam consists of both written and practical components that test knowledge of dental laboratory procedures and techniques.
The cost of becoming a CDT varies depending on where you attend school and what type of program you choose to pursue. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from around $2,000-$10,000 per year depending on the institution you attend. Additionally, there is an additional fee for taking the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology exam which is currently $300 USD.
6. Certified Dental Practice Manager (CDPM)
Certified Dental Practice Manager (CDPM) is a professional certification program designed to provide dental practice managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully manage and lead a dental practice. The program is administered by the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM).
The CDPM certification requires applicants to pass an exam that covers topics such as business management, financial management, human resources, marketing and communications, patient relations, legal issues, and more. To be eligible for the exam, candidates must have at least three years of experience in a managerial role in a dental practice or related field.
The exam is offered twice each year at various locations across the United States. The cost of the exam varies depending on location but typically ranges from $350-$400.
To prepare for the exam, AADOM offers study materials such as online courses and study guides. Additionally, there are several third-party organizations that offer review courses and other resources to help candidates prepare for the exam.
Once certified, CDPMs must complete continuing education requirements every two years in order to maintain their certification status.
7. Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is a set of clinical interventions for the urgent treatment of cardiac arrest, stroke and other life-threatening medical emergencies. It is an advanced form of basic life support that includes additional skills such as airway management, rhythm recognition, pharmacology, and defibrillation. ACLS is designed to help healthcare providers recognize and treat rapidly changing patient conditions.
The American Heart Association (AHA) provides ACLS certification courses in two levels: Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). The BLS course focuses on basic life-saving techniques such as CPR and choking relief. The ACLS course covers more advanced topics such as airway management, rhythm recognition, pharmacology, and defibrillation.
It typically takes one to two days to complete an ACLS certification course. The AHA offers both online and in-person courses with varying lengths depending on the provider. Online courses can be completed in as little as 4 hours while in-person courses may take up to 16 hours depending on the provider.
In order to get certified in ACLS, you must first complete a BLS certification course or have current BLS certification before taking the ACLS course. After completing the course, you will need to pass a written exam and practical skills test in order to receive your certification card from the AHA.
The cost of an ACLS certification course varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $100-$300 USD.
8. Coronal Polishing Certification
Coronal Polishing Certification is a certification program designed to train dental professionals in the safe and effective removal of plaque, calculus, and stain from tooth surfaces. This certification is offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and requires passing a written exam. The exam covers topics such as patient safety, infection control, anatomy and physiology of the oral cavity, dental materials, polishing techniques, and instrumentation.
The certification process takes approximately three months to complete. First, applicants must register for the Coronal Polishing Certification Exam with DANB. After registering for the exam, applicants must take an approved course in coronal polishing or complete a self-study program. Once completed, applicants will then be eligible to take the written examination which consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. A score of 70% or higher is required to pass the exam and become certified.
The cost of obtaining Coronal Polishing Certification varies depending on whether you are taking a course or completing a self-study program. Courses typically range from $100-$500 while self-study programs can cost up to $300. Additionally, there is an additional fee for taking the written examination which costs $250 for non-DANB members and $200 for DANB members.
Overall, Coronal Polishing Certification is an important credential that demonstrates your knowledge and skill in safely removing plaque, calculus, and stain from tooth surfaces. It takes approximately three months to complete the certification process and can cost anywhere between $100-$500 depending on whether you are taking a course or completing a self-study program.
9. Infection Control Certification
Infection Control Certification is a credential that demonstrates the holder has the knowledge and skills necessary to prevent, detect, and control infections. It is usually obtained through an accredited program or organization and requires successful completion of an examination.
The length of time it takes to get certified varies depending on the program chosen. Some programs offer certification in as little as two weeks while others may take up to six months or more.
To get certified, you must complete a training program that meets the requirements of the certifying organization. This typically includes courses in infection prevention and control, medical terminology, epidemiology, and other related topics. After completing the training program, you must pass an exam administered by the certifying organization in order to receive your certification.
The cost of Infection Control Certification varies depending on the program chosen but can range from $200-$500 USD.
10. Nitrous Oxide Monitoring Certification
Nitrous Oxide Monitoring Certification is a certification program designed to help ensure the safe and effective use of nitrous oxide in medical settings. The certification is offered by the American Association of Anesthesiologists (AAA), and it requires that an individual complete an accredited training course, pass a written exam, and demonstrate competency in the administration of nitrous oxide.
The training course typically takes between 4-6 hours to complete, depending on the complexity of the material covered. The course covers topics such as safety protocols, proper storage and handling of nitrous oxide, patient monitoring techniques, and more. After completing the course, individuals must pass a written exam with a score of at least 80%. Once certified, individuals must renew their certification every two years by completing continuing education credits or retaking the written exam.
The cost for Nitrous Oxide Monitoring Certification varies depending on where you take the training course. Generally speaking, courses range from $100-$400. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with taking the written exam and renewing your certification every two years.
Do You Really Need a Registered Dental Assistant Certificate?
Yes, you do need a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) certificate to practice as a dental assistant. Becoming an RDA requires the completion of an accredited program, passing the national board exam, and meeting any additional state-specific requirements.
Having an RDA certificate shows potential employers that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to work in a dental office. It also ensures that you are up-to-date on current standards of care and regulations, which is important for patient safety. The RDA certificate is also often required for higher-level positions such as office manager or lead dental assistant.
In addition to being required for many jobs, having an RDA certificate can provide other benefits such as increased earning potential due to higher pay rates and more job opportunities. Employers may also be more likely to invest in training for a certified dental assistant than for one who does not have certification.
Overall, having an RDA certificate is beneficial in many ways and can open up more career opportunities in the dental field. While it may require some effort and dedication to become certified, it is worth it in the long run.
Related: Registered Dental Assistant Resume Examples
FAQs About Registered Dental Assistant Certifications
Q1: What is a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) Certification?
A1: A Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) Certification is an official recognition from the Dental Board of California that a dental assistant has met the educational and clinical requirements necessary to perform expanded duties within the dental office.
Q2: How do I become a Certified RDA?
A2: To become a Certified RDA, you must complete an accredited dental assisting program, pass the state-administered written and practical exams, and obtain licensure from the Dental Board of California.
Q3: Is there a continuing education requirement for RDAs?
A3: Yes, RDAs must complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years in order to maintain their certification.
Q4: How long does it take to get certified as an RDA?
A4: It typically takes 1-2 years to become certified as an RDA depending on the individual's pace of study. This includes completing an accredited dental assisting program and passing both the written and practical exams.
Q5: What are some benefits of becoming a Certified RDA?
A5: Becoming a Certified RDA gives you access to higher salaries, more job opportunities, increased responsibility in the workplace, and increased credibility among colleagues. It also allows you to perform certain procedures that non-certified assistants cannot do.