Dental Assistant

Do You Need Experience to Be a Dental Assistant?

Dental Assistant


Dental Assistant Jobs & Experience

Jobs in the dental profession are growing at a faster pace than the average of all other occupations. The need for dentists and dental assistants will increase 18% in the ten-year period ending in 2024 according to projections.

If those statistics pique your interest, you might be wondering what kind of experience you need to become a dental assistant and work in a dental office.

Keep reading to learn more about this profession and what experience you need to land a job helping patients with preventative dental care.

What is a Dental Assistant?

Though their duties vary from state to state and practice to practice, dental assistants perform a number of tasks from taking x-rays to scheduling appointments. Some of their duties include:

  • providing sterilized dental instruments to the dentist
  • setting up the work area for procedures
  • making sure patients are comfortable
  • take notes dictated by the dentist during a procedure
  • keep records
  • provide suction during a procedure
  • give patients follow-up instructions
  • advise patients on oral hygiene
  • work with patients on billing

Every dentist has their own set of duties for their dental assistants.

How Do You Become a Dental Assistant?

The requirements to become a dental assistant range from graduating from an accredited program and passing an exam to no formal education required depending on your state. Let’s look at the steps to take to get the education and experience you need.


Enroll in a dental assistant program at either a community college, vocational, or technical school. The programs take about a year, but if you decide to get an associate’s degree from a community college, it’s a two-year program.

If you know during your high school years that you’d like to go into the dental field, take biology, chemistry, and anatomy courses to prepare.

Once in an accredited program, you’ll experience a combination of classroom and laboratory work. You’ll learn about teeth, gums, jaws, and the various dental instruments employed in the dental office setting.

Lastly, you’ll get supervised practical experience before taking your certification exam. Check with your state’s Board of Dental Examiners for specific state requirements.

On-The-Job Training

Once you land a job in a dental practice, the employer will offer on-the-job training. They will train you to perform your duties in a way that works for them so that you become familiar with their procedures.

In cases where formal education is not necessary, you’ll be trained by a current dental assistant, dental hygienist, or dentist in the office. You’ll learn the terminology, names of instruments, etc. to keep the office running.

Becoming a Dental Assistant

Now that you know what experience you need to become a dental assistant, you can get started on your career path. Will you get an associate’s degree or go with a certificate program?

When you’re ready to land your first job, do you know who can help? We at Dental Career Connect are dedicated to connecting dental practices with excellent employees. Our goal is to make hiring and job hunting simple and efficient for employers and job seekers. If you’re looking to be a dental assistant, start with Dental Career Connect!