How Long Is Dental Assistant School?

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Dental assisting is a sought-after career for numerous reasons, including job security, rapid entry into the workforce, and the opportunity to make a positive impact on others. Whether it involves managing appointments, capturing X-rays, or aiding dentists in everyday or specialized procedures, dental assistants are required to exhibit high levels of expertise and meticulous attention to detail.

But, how long does it take to become a dental assistant?

The duration needed to become a dental assistant varies based on your place of residence. State regulations range from minimal requirements in some areas to rigorous mandates involving education, certification, and licensure in others.

In states with more lenient prerequisites, individuals with a high school diploma may secure a dental assistant position promptly. Conversely, in states with stringent criteria, the process of becoming a dental assistant can span up to two years.

If you opt for enrollment in a training program and aim to earn certification, the typical timeframe for becoming a dental assistant ranges from 4 months to 2 years. This guide provides an overview of the different timelines associated with becoming a dental assistant through various types of training programs.

How Long Online Dental Assistant Training Programs Take

Online dental assisting programs are becoming increasingly favored among students worldwide. These online programs typically offer a self-paced learning approach, allowing you to progress at your own pace, within reasonable limits.

For students who can dedicate themselves to full-time study and possess quick learning capabilities, some programs can be finished in as little as three months. Conversely, individuals with job commitments or other responsibilities at home might require approximately 12 months to complete their training.

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How Long Does It Take To Obtain A Dental Assistant Certificate From A Community College?

Community college programs typically have a longer duration compared to online programs, typically extending from 12 to 24 months. Despite their longer duration and limited flexibility, some individuals may find that they learn more effectively in a physical, structured environment.

Similar to online certificate programs, community college programs encompass all the essential content required for passing the certified dental assistant exam and embarking on a prosperous career. These classes encompass a comprehensive range of topics, including dental materials, infection control, chair-side assisting, general dentistry, and dental specialties.

How Long Does It Take To Get An Associate Degree From A Community College?

Obtaining an associate degree in dental assisting represents the lengthiest and often the costliest route for dental assistant training. Most associate degree programs typically span around 2 years, although there are accelerated options that can be completed in 18 months.

In the initial year of an associate degree program, the curriculum primarily revolves around general education courses encompassing fundamental subjects like mathematics, writing, and sociology. Subsequent to this, students shift their attention toward specialized dental assisting topics such as oral anatomy, chair-side assisting, and infection control.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Dental Assistant?

While there are many different options for certification and they each take a different amount of time, you can expect the process of becoming a dental assistant to follow a predictable pathway: 

  1. Attain your high school diploma or GED (4 years). A prerequisite for enrolling in a dental assistant training program is the possession of a high school diploma or GED. If you haven’t completed high school, you can obtain a GED in as little as three months.
  2. Enroll in a training program (0 to 4 months). Online programs often offer immediate enrollment and course commencement. However, if you opt for a community college program, you may need to wait until the start of a semester to begin your classes.
  3. Complete your training (3 to 24 months). For those enrolled in online programs, it’s possible to complete the training within a few months through intensive study. When participating in a self-paced program, it’s crucial to dedicate ample time to comprehending the material thoroughly. There’s no benefit in rushing through the course if you don’t grasp the information well enough to pass the exam.
  4. Obtain your CPR certification (1 to 3 hours). In cases where your chosen program doesn’t include CPR certification, it’s necessary to acquire one before becoming eligible to register for the DANB exam. You can locate CPR certification classes in your vicinity through the Red Cross.
  5. Take your certification exam (up to 4 months). Upon finishing your coursework, you can register for the certification exam. It may take up to four weeks for your application to gain approval for registration. Subsequently, you have a maximum of 60 days to complete the exam. Official results will be provided to you within 2 to 4 weeks following the examination.

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How Much Does It Cost To Become A Dental Assistant?

The cost of dental assistant programs can vary, typically ranging from approximately $6,000 to $25,000. Additionally, there is a certification exam fee of $450 that you must cover.

FAQs On How Long Is Dental Assistant School

Are there different types of dental assistant programs with varying durations?

Yes, there are various types of dental assistant programs, including diploma, certificate, and degree programs. The length of the program may differ depending on the type and level of education you pursue.

What is the shortest duration for dental assistant training?

Some dental assistant programs offer accelerated or short-term options that can be completed in as little as 6 to 9 months.

What does dental assistant training typically include?

Dental assistant training covers a range of topics, including dental procedures, radiography, patient care, and infection control.

What is the job outlook for dental assistants?

The job outlook for dental assistants is generally positive, with opportunities in dental offices, clinics, and other healthcare settings.


If you have a passion for dentistry and aspire to work as a dental assistant, investing your time, finances, and energy in obtaining a certification is a valuable endeavor. Certification signifies your commitment to your profession to prospective employers, enhances your workplace confidence, and equips you with the abilities needed to ensure your patients’ safety.


  • – How Long Does It Take to Become a Dental Assistant? Length of School & Online Programs
  • – How To Become an Dental Assistant: Steps, Jobs & Salary

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