Montana has two dental assistant programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). One of them is Great Falls College – Montana State University (GFS MSU), a two-year institution that was established in 1969 and located in the principal city of the Great Falls, Montana metro area. The other one, Salish Kootenai College (SKC), was established in 1977 to primarily serve the Native American community. In fact, its main campus is located on a reservation in the small city of Pablo.
Dental Assistant Schools in MontanaAspiring dental care assistants seeking education at GFC MSU can enroll in an 11-month certificate program. The curriculum is split into three semesters: Fall, Spring, and Summer. The number of credits required for graduation is 43 to 45; the curriculum also has an additional graduation requirement entitled “Becoming a Successful Student.” Core courses are in subject matter that includes infection control; dental office management; chairside assisting; oral radiology; and head, neck and oral anatomy. At SKC, students have two choices instead of one: the Certificate of Completion in Dental Assisting Technology and the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Dental Assisting Technology. Although SKC students can complete the A.A.S. program in 11 months like the certificate track, it would require an increased work load per semester. Indeed, the dental assisting curricula at SKC are actually more elaborate, with 55 credits for the certificate and 90 credits for the associate degree. Naturally, it would take two years to complete the A.A.S. Also, the curricula have unique non-dental classes tailored to Native Americans, such as “Native American Contributions” and “History of Indians in the U.S.”
SALARIES FOR DENTAL ASSISTANTS IN MONTANAIn Montana, dental care assistants have an annual median salary of $31,100 ($14.94 per hour), according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bottom 10 percentile of dental care assistants in the state took home $21,600 ($10.38 per hour), while the top 10 percent took home $40,700 ($19.58 per hour). According to the BLS, there were 1,060 dental care assistants in Montana. The agency expects that number to increase by 24 percent–up to 1,320–between 2010 and 2020.
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