Dental Assistant Degree vs Certificate

This article discusses the differences between an associate degree in dental assisting and a certificate. But before hitting the nail on the head, let’s review the two academic or professional essentials.

Do you desire to assist others?

Then becoming an assistant dentist can be the perfect choice for you. Certified dentists and other medical providers will need your help to care for patients.

Some of the duties you’ll perform include showing patients their exam rooms and making dental impressions. You’ll also sterilize dental tools and equipment, do post-procedure clean-up, assist with procedures, and more.

Dental Assistant Diploma Degree vs. Certificate

To become a dental assistant, you must learn about the differences between a dental assistant degree and a certificate. That way, you can select the educational path that suits your career goals.

Don’t go anywhere.

  • About the Dental Assistant Diploma Degree

It’s a two-year program that prepares aspiring students to become dental assistants.

The studies will also prepare you for advanced certificate exams such as the one provided by DANB. While studying, you’ll acquire skills in using oral materials, recognizing tooth anatomy, and controlling infection.

You’ll also be trained to perform radiology, respond to emergencies, and perform specific clerical duties. Furthermore, finishing a 2-year dental assistant degree is halfway to earning a 4-year degree.

You can also stand out from other job seekers in a competitive job market.

Certificate in Dental Assisting

Acquiring an oral assistant certificate is an achievement to be proud of.

The monthly program prepares students to work with dentists or in admin roles. After finishing a certificate course, you will be eligible for the DANB Certified Dental Assistant Exams.

Most certificate courses in this field can be completed within ten months of full-time study. But if you take weekend classes, your program may be extended to one year.

While studying, you’ll learn professional skills to secure entry-level jobs upon finishing.

Associate Dental Assistant Degree vs Certificate

As stated, these academic and certification options differ accordingly. At this point, we’ll outline their variations in study description, entry essentials, and learning settings.

Other areas to differentiate include the duration of studies, coursework, acquired skills, and wages. Let’s briefly explain these variations.

  • Academic Description

A typical oral assistant degree is offered for two years. It is, therefore, a fantastic choice for entry-level positions.

Those seeking education can enroll in these programs with a high school certificate or GED. They will gain the clinical knowledge and experience required to enter the workforce within two years.

As stated above, assistant degree holders in dentistry will find it easy to advance their education. Meaning they are halfway to finishing a four-year degree program.

Meanwhile, a dental assistant certificate can be obtained in just a few months. It’s a better option for those seeking a quick course of study to learn professional skills.

Plus, to gain access to entry-level jobs after finishing their studies. People who want to try out working in the dentistry industry without committing to a two- or four-year program will find certificate courses ideal.

Furthermore, certificate holders can pivot into related allied health jobs. But they’ll need to finish a two-year or four-year degree in the related field.

  • Essentials for DANB Certification

Having a dental assistant degree is enough to earn this credential. However, that is different from the case for certificate holders.

They must complete some vital steps before being issued such a document. First, they must hold a diploma or certificate in oral assisting, which takes an average of 9–11 months.

Next, they must complete two years of practicum training as dental assistants.

Finally, they must complete military training as oral assistants for two years. Such activity should be under the supervision of a certified dentist.

  • Learning Settings

These two credentials can be obtained in similar learning settings. You can get a dental assistant degree from dental schools, community colleges, technical institutions, universities, and vocational centers.

Certificates in this field can be obtained from all the settings mentioned earlier, including military facilities and dental clinics.

  • Coursework

Same here; the study syllabus for the assistant degree is similar to that for certificates. The only difference is that degree programs have extensive coursework compared to certificate courses.

But you’ll offer subjects like chairside assisting, oral materials, community health, oral anatomy, and dental radiology.

Other courses are oral office administration, tooth pharmacology, CPR and first aid, office management, and introduction to dental professions.

  • Skills Acquired

The skills learned in the dental assisting degree and certificate programs are similar.

But due to the longer duration of degree courses, you’ll have more in-depth skills than certificate holders. However, you’ll acquire the following skills: customer service, application of fluoride and sealants, and CPR first aid.

Additional skills are equipment sterilization, testing prep, and clean-up, hands-on clinical learning, and office administration.

Taking dental x-rays, practicing four-handed dentistry, and explaining proper oral hygiene practices are other competencies to take home.

  • Wages

Workers with associate degrees are eligible for excellent pay. But at the moment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t distinguish between dental assistants with certificates or associate degrees.

They receive the same amount based on the average annual salary between 2021 and 2022.

Meanwhile, practitioners with an associate degree or certificate in oral health will take home $42,510 in 2021. Then, in 2022, their wages increased to $68,697 per year.

Meanwhile, certain conditions can influence the amount both degree and certificate holders receive. These include your location, place of work, and years of experience, among others.

Why is the Field of Dental Assisting Growing Rapidly?

Have you seen the variations and similarities between these two certificate options? Of course, you do. So what next? Let’s see why this job is gaining popularity and becoming lucrative.

There are two primary causes for this. First, there is an increase in senior individuals and an expansion of pediatric dental treatment.

Children are mandated by law to be enrolled in an oral plan. That’s one of the ten critical health benefits.

This prompts adults and children to consult dentists for oral prevention and treatment. Most healthcare centers and dentists are hiring dental assistants to help care for the growing number of patients.

Besides the incentives, the government is improving access to oral healthcare for all Americans. This is the second reason the dental assistant job is fast growing.

The idea is to enable older adults, the disabled, blind people, and people with mobility issues to receive oral health care.