In the medical world, if you’re looking to increase your attractiveness to potential employers, you’ll want to establish yourself from the rest of the pack. One of the best ways to do this is to obtain different certifications. The individual certifications are for specialties that go beyond traditional education. So, if you went to school to become a dental assistant, there is a number of different dental assistant certification options available to you. Each of these certifications will make you more valuable to a dental office while increasing the chance of landing a job.
There’s a better chance of earning more money because you can do more around the office. So, if you’re serious about your dental assistant position and want to make the most of out, there is a number of different dental assistant certification options out there to choose from.
What Is Dental Assistant Certification?
After you finish your primary schooling to become a dental assistant, you may decide to increase your level of knowledge and go after individual certifications. For these individual dental assistant certifications, you’ll need to take secondary classes in order to educate yourself on the specific areas of study. These certifications are different from the degree you obtained from the school you studied with. The certification is often an individual class you can take after finishing the primary education. At the end of the class, you’ll then take a class to demonstrate your knowledge.
After passing the test, you’ll receive a certification. Once you have the certification (you’ll receive both a physical copy, and it will be attached to your personal dental assistant record, so any dentist office considering you as a potential higher will look up the credentials to make sure everything you say you have is true. As each dental assistant certification is for an individual course and specialty, there are a number of certifications you can go for. Some states also have specifics as well, so it’s important to check with the dental association within your state to find out what is offered. Each certification exam is made up of several parts.
These parts are split up based on the certification, but you need to pass each of the portions of the exam in order to receive your certificate. Should you fail to pass the exams, you can retake, although some states require a waiting period between taking the certifications (and you must pay the fee over again, so make sure you are ready to take the exams ahead of time).
Should I Get Certified?
The short answer to this is yes, get a certificate. If you are serious about taking your dental assistant career seriously, you’ll need to go after the different certifications. There are four major certifications, and each instantly makes you more attractive to a dental office. A dental office is going to want someone who can work in a variety of fields. If the office provides different services to patients, such as primary dental care and orthodontic care but you don’t have certification in both, you are not able to assist in any of the procedures that take place where you are not certified.
This puts the patient at risk, and it opens the dental office up for liability suits. That is exactly why it is so critical for you to get certified in as many of the four major dental assistant certification options as possible. A dental office will always look for someone who has more certifications because this person can do more within the office. So even if you do not receive an initial raise with the additional certifications you obtain, it makes you a more desirable worker, which increases your chance of landing a job.
You will need to take individual courses for these different dental assistant certification options. However, most of these courses you can take on the weekends or after work. This way you don’t need to stop working in order to obtain the certificate. So whether you have a family or just landed a new job, you can continue to work and raise your family as you add on the certifications.
The Different Certifications Available
The state you live in may have additional certifications or requirements. There are national certifications though that will cover wherever you work. This way, once you obtain the certification, as long as you maintain it, you’ll be able to work just about anywhere in the country with any of the different dental assistant certification offerings on your resume. Plus, as the dental assistant certification is listed on your professional records and on a national database any dentist office can look the information up.
Certified Dental Assistant
This is the basic dental assistant certification, and it will be the first certification you obtain in order to work with patients within the office. These certification tests are made up of three different portions. The first is known as the GC Exam (general chairside). It is made up of 120 questions, and you have 90 minutes for the test. The second portion is the RHS Exam (radiation health and safety).
This is made up of 100 questions, and you will have a total of 75 minutes to take the exam. The third portion of the Certified Dental Assistant certification exam is the ICE Exam (infection control). This is 100 questions and again allows for up to 75 minutes to take the exam. Should you pass and obtain this certification, you will be known as a CDA (Certified Dental Assistant).
Certified Orthodontic Assistant
This next certification is to allow you to work with orthodontics. This way, you can aid in providing braces and working on straightening teeth. There are dental offices that only specialize in orthodontic work. If you are interested in applying for this kind of work (or want to increase your job possibilities) going after this certification is beneficial. Unlike the CDA, the Certified Orthodontic Assistant certification is made up of two parts. The first part is the OA Exam (Orthodontic assisting).
It has 210 questions and allows for 165 minutes to complete the test. Of all the certifications you go after, this is the longest portion of the tests. The second portion of the Certified Orthodontic Assistant certification is the ICE Exam (infection control). It is made up of 100 questions and allows for 75 minutes to complete the test. If you pass both of the tests, you’ll be known as a COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant).
Certified Preventative Functions Dental Assistant
If you want to help patients improve their oral hygiene and prevent them from developing cavities and other oral problems, you may want to go after the Certified Preventative Functions Dental Assistant certification. This particular certification is made up of four different exams. The first exam is the CP Exam (coronal polish). This exam is made up of 100 questions, and you are allowed a total of 75 minutes to complete the test.
The second exam is the SE Exam (sealants). It is made up of 50 questions, and you are given 45 minutes to complete the test. Likewise, both the TA Exam (topical anesthetic ) and TF Exam (topical fluoride) are 50 questions and allow up to 45 minutes to complete the test. Once you have passed all four of the exams, you will be known as a CPFDA (Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant).
Certified Restoration Functions Dental Assistant
Of the four certifications, this is the longest of the group. In total it is made up of 480 questions, so you will need to make sure and study ahead of time (it is also a total of 6 hours and 10 minutes for all the exams put together).
The first exam is the AMP Exam (anatomy morphology and physiology). This is 105 questions, and you are allowed up to 80 minutes to finish.
Second And Third Exams
The IM Exam (impressions) and TMP Exam (temporaries) are both 80 questions each, and you are allowed up to 60 minutes to take each exam.
The fourth exam is the IS Exam (isolation). It consists of 60 questions, and you are given 45 minutes to complete.
The fifth exam is the SE Exam (sealants). It is made up of 50 questions although you are given 46 minutes to complete this portion of the certification.
The last test is the RF Exam (restorative functions). It is 105 questions, and you have 80 minutes to complete it. If you pass all the exams, you will be a CRFDA (Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant).
If you are serious about your career as a dental assistant, it is important to obtain different certifications. These individual certifications will help you greatly in landing a new job and increasing your role within the office. You’ll also find you are often paid more with the added certifications, not to mention dental offices around the country will seek a professional just like you.