Online Dental Assistant Schools
Dental care is something that more and more Americans are realizing is vital for their overall health care. Dental offices employ a variety of different workers to help with the basic operations, and among them a dental assistant is one that can't be overlooked. These professionals wear a lot of different hats in the workplace. They usually handle tasks like admitting patients, scheduling visits, filing insurance, and more. In some cases they may also provide general oral health care by clean teeth, postoperative preparations for dental surgery, take x-rays, develop radiographs and more. In short, they work to assist the dentist in whatever he may need. Most small dental offices employ at least one of these professionals while larger dental facilities may employ many.
The training process for dental assistants is standardized across the country, which means that completing the program once will generally qualify one for employment in nearly any dental office in the country. While basic training could involve a simple certificate, students often elect to continue their education and earn a bachelor's degree. Many more actually begin their career by earning an online dental assistant degree but then continue their education in the field further. Online degree options help to make it easier for students to change their careers without having to struggle to balance work and education, and it's a great option for students graduating high school as well.
Online Dental Assistant Degree Levels
Diploma or Certificate: 6 months to 1 year
Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
Earning a basic online dental assistant certificate, sometimes called a diploma, can be completed in six months to a year. The program covers the basics of insurance, scheduling, and more as well as basic dental terminology. Quality programs usually also teach students how to take x-rays of teeth and apply whitening procedures to the teeth. They are also trained in assisting dentists during involved procedures and surgeries and learn how to advise patients on proper dental care and answer questions. In short, it covers a variety of administration, clerical, and clinical duties and prepares students for work in a dental office of any size.
Those who opt to earn an associate's degree will learn all of the above as well as other training. In most cases these associate's degree programs simply add general education classes that allow students to continue their education further should they decide that it's right for them. They'll be able to learn all of the administrative, clerical, and clinical skills as those who earn a diploma but will gain further training that allows them to become a much more thorough and capable dental assistant in every way imaginable. Most additional programs taken during an associate's degree program will include classes in math and the humanities. A degree or diplomas are both excellent paths into a highly rewarding career.
Basic Admission Requirements
One reason that an online dental assistant degree is such a major draw for students is that there are few requirements needed to enroll. In most cases the completion of a basic application and holding a high school diploma or GED is enough to enter the program. This easy admission application helps students who did poorly in high school but whom are ready to turn their career around to do so, and is also a reason that these programs are popular with adults looking to change their station in life and in their career. Simply put, the program is a great choice for people ready to move ahead and give themselves the right advantages.
Traditional and Online Dental Assistant Degrees Key Differences
The main difference between online and traditional dental assistant degree is obvious. Students in a traditional program will take their classes on the campus of the school offering the program. They'll interact with other students and with the educator as they work through their classwork. Online students rely on videos, forums, reading, tutorials, and online chat to complete their lessons and to interact with others. Online programs are better for self-motivated students who are able to focus on their lessons and complete them without the guidance of a teacher. Both types of programs will include clinical in-office training that allows students to get the hands on training they need to thrive in their field.
Tuition costs will vary from school to school, but in most cases will be between two and four thousand dollars annually. Those enrolling in online programs generally pay slightly less than those who take traditional courses. The important thing to remember is that online or traditional programs both offer excellent financial aid options including loans, financing plans, and grants. It's much easier to find the money for your education than most realize and with the growing demand for dental assistants, paying back any loans will be much quicker than you realize as well.
As with any college program, choosing a school that is fully accredited is important. Most employers will only hire a person who has graduated from a fully accredited program. Not only that, but schools that lack accreditation won't be able to offer federal financial aid. Students looking to transfer their credits later to continue their education won't be able to do so if they graduate from a non-accredited program. In short, you need to complete your dental assistant program through a fully accredited school if you want to ensure that you find employment after you graduate.
Finding the Right Degree
Today the time that it takes to earn an online dental assistant degree has helped it become a popular program to improve one's career. Finding the best program usually comes down to figuring out where you want the future to take you. If you want to start off as a dental assistant but then complete further education later, an associate's degree is the right call since your credits will be transferable. But if you plan on making a dental assistant position your career, the extra time usually isn't worth it since a diploma program will give you all the training needed. No matter what you decide on be sure that you complete an accredited degree program.