Dental assistants in Alabama are entry-level medical providers who assist dentists with routine dental procedures and administrative tasks around the dentist’s office. While it is possible for those who have graduated from high school to prepare for this job by means of on-the-job training, the majority of hiring managers choose to hire candidates who have completed a 12-month dental assistant certification training course.

Due to record demand for new dental assistants in Alabama, this profession is extremely desirable for men and women looking for an entry-level position in healthcare. The 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 19% increase in new jobs for dental assistants through 2026.

What is a dental assistant?

Dental assistants in Alabama work under the supervision of a dentist, and are given the task of carrying out a number of support duties that help keep the office operating smoothly. Although some managers might require even further responsibilities, the following link shows the main role of most dental assistants.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in Alabama

The four-part procedure for becoming a dental assistant in Alabama is displayed below.

Step 1 – Complete your high school diploma or GED

Regardless of the job you decide to pursue, receiving a high school diploma should be considered the first step. Working in the healthcare field is no different. And even in the cases where it is possible to find a position without your high school diploma, the positions normally don’t offer much in the way of salary or chances for advancement.

Where dental assistant training programs are concerned, you may also discover early on that most authorized training programs require applicants to provide proof of a high school diploma or G.E.D. before beginning classes. For that reason, whatever your ultimate professional goals, be sure that you take this first step.

Step 2: Find a program accredited by CODA and register for classes

Finding a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited program is the next step if you’ve chosen to become certified. The CODA is a nationally-respected body that coordinates dental assistant coursework across the country.

What is CODA accreditation?

Due to the fact that only students who finish a training course approved by the CODA are immediately able to take either of the national certification exams, it’s crucial that you attend a training course that is recognized by this body.

A look at online dental assistant programs

So as to better accommodate students who work or have other responsibilities that can make attending class challenging, a great number of schools offer online pharmacy tech programs. These programs are likewise great for those who do not live in close proximity to an institution that has dental assistant education.

Even though it’s possible to finish the academic section of a course online, it will still be necessary to finish the hands-on training section in-person at a specified location.

Step 3: Satisfy all required internship hours and finish the program

Graduating from the approved program you chose in the previous step is going to be your next objective. The academic and hands-on parts of the traditional course may be finished in twelve months or less.

A lot of training courses dedicate the classroom portion of their syllabus to the material that will probably be included in the national certification exams. The externship, however, will present you with the chance to put the things you learn into practice in a live, professional environment.

Step 4: Pass one of the main national certification exams

There are two highly-popular dental assistant certification examinations – the NELDA and CDA. Eligibility to take these exams calls for you to initially complete a CODA-accredited program. College students who pass either exam receive the nationally-recognized title of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

Each of these examinations are described in greater detail here.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

One of the primary nationwide exams is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA), which is a three-part examination administered throughout the nation. The examination is administered in a timed format, and contains three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). After passing the test, the pupil earns the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) certification.

Eligibility to take the exam requires the student having the ability to satisfy one of the following two criteria:

    • Graduated from a CODA-accredited dental assistant training program, or
    • Acquired comparable work experience as a dental assistant

CDA Exam

Also sponsored by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), is the CDA additionally awards the nationally-regarded title Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) to individuals who receive a passing score. There are 60 multiple-choice questions on this one-hour, 45-minute timed exam.

Being eligible for this exam further depends on the candidate having either:

    • Graduated from a CODE-accredited dental assistant course, or
    • Obtained comparable work experience as a dental assistant

How much does a dental assistant make in Alabama?

Dental assistant compensation may differ based upon various things, but the median wage was $37,630 in 2017 according to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The following table reflects that this number can vary based on which area you choose to work in.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Southeast Alabama BOSHourly$11.01$17.97$23.43
Decatur, AL MSAHourly$13.25$16.92$22.65
Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSAHourly$12.24$16.29$24.05
Gadsden, AL MSAHourly$10.39$15.95$23.20