Becoming a dental assistant in California is looking more and more like a smart career choice with the great career outlook! See how you can get started on the right career path from day 1, all the way to graduation day from an accredited dental assisting program in California.

What does a dental assistant do in California?

Dental assistants in California are employed under the guidance of a dentist, and are responsible for completing a variety of supporting duties that help to keep the office running smoothly. While many managers might require additional duties, the following link shows what the principal function of most dental assistants are.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in California

The certification process to become a dental assistant in California can be summarized in the next four steps.

Step 1 – Complete high school or earn your G.E.D.

Getting your high school diploma is one of the important foundations to becoming employed in any specialized job. When considering job opportunities in the medical field, this is particularly true. You can find jobs in the field that can be held without finishing a high school diploma, but they typically have little room for growth.

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

The second step in becoming eligible to work as a certified dental assistant is to register for training courses that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The CODA is a nationally-regarded body that coordinates dental assisting training across the nation. Considering that only trainees who finish a training program in CA accredited by the CODA are immediately eligible to sit for either of the national certification exams, it really is imperative that you finish a training program in CA that is recognized by this body.

CODA Approved Dental Assisting Training Programs in California

Dental Assisting – College of Alameda
California
College of Alameda
555 Atlantic Avenue
Dental Assisting Department Box 45
Alameda
94501
510-748-5275
Program Director: Ms. Carla Pegues
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2011
Next Accreditation Visit: 2018

Dental Assisting – Orange Coast College
California
Orange Coast College
2701 Fairview Road
Costa Mesa
92628-5005
714-432-5565
Program Director: Ms. Joy Louise Myers
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval with Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2015
Next Accreditation Visit: 2022

Dental Assisting – Cypress College
California
Cypress College
9200 Valley View Street
Cypress
90630
714-484-7293
www.cypresscollege.edu
Program Director: Ms. Elizabeth Pacheco
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2015
Next Accreditation Visit: 2022

Dental Assisting – College of the Redwoods
California
College of the Redwoods
7351 Tompkins Hill Road
Eureka
95501
(707) 476-4253
Program Director: Ms. Hillary Reed
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2011
Next Accreditation Visit: 2018

Dental Assisting – Citrus College
California
Citrus College
1000 West Foothill
Glendora
91740
626-914-8728
citruscollege.edu; citruscollege.edu/academics/programs/dental/Pages/default.aspx
Program Director: Ms. Dawn Brewster (Klein)
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2013
Next Accreditation Visit: 2020

Dental Assisting – Hacienda La Puente Adult Education
California
Hacienda La Puente Adult Education
14101 East Nelson Street
La Puente
91746
626-934-2890
Program Director: Ms. Heather Pasicznyk
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2013
Next Accreditation Visit: 2020

Dental Assisting – Foothill College
California
Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills
94022
650-949-7351
www.foothill.edu
Program Director: Ms. Cara Michiko Miyasaki Ching
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2011
Next Accreditation Visit: 2018

Dental Assisting – Moreno Valley College
California
Moreno Valley College
Moreno Valley Campus
16130 Lasselle Street
Moreno Valley
92551-2045
951-571-6430
www.mvc.edu/academicprograms/dh/index.cfm
Program Director: Dr. Lidia Hulshof
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2015
Next Accreditation Visit: 2022

Dental Assisting – Cerritos College
California
Cerritos College
11110 East Alondra Blvd
Norwalk
90650
562-860-2451×2587
www.cerritos.edu/dental-hygiene/
Program Director: Ms. Lydia Cosio
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2016
Next Accreditation Visit: 2023

Dental Assisting – College of Marin
California
College of Marin
1800 Ignacio Boulevard
Novato
94949
415-457-8811 x8410
www.marin.edu/departments/Health Science/Dental Assisting/
Program Director: Ms. Rebecca Allen
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2011
Next Accreditation Visit: 2018

Dental Assisting – Pasadena City College
California
Pasadena City College
1570 East Colorado Blvd
Pasadena
91106
626-585-7883
www.pasadena.edu/divisions/health-sciences/dental-hygiene/
Program Director: Ms. Denise Romero
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2016
Next Accreditation Visit: 2023

Dental Assisting – Diablo Valley College
California
Diablo Valley College
321 Golf Club Road
Pleasant Hill
94523
925-969-2640
www.dvc.edu/academics/bhsd/hygiene/
Program Director: Ms. Colleen Teresa Pohley Shipp
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2017
Next Accreditation Visit: 2024

Dental Assisting – Chaffey College
California
Chaffey College
5885 Haven Avenue
Rancho Cucamonga
91737-3002
909-652-6668
Program Director: Ms. Tanya Cusick
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval with Reporting Requirements (intent to withdraw)
Last Accreditation Visit: 2017
Next Accreditation Visit: 2024

Dental Assisting – Sacramento City College
California
Sacramento City College
3835 Freeport Boulevard
Sacramento
95822
916-558-2038
www.scc.losrios.edu/dental/
Program Director: Ms. Melodi Randolph
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval with Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2011
Next Accreditation Visit: 2018

Dental Assisting – San Diego Mesa College
California
San Diego Mesa College
7250 Mesa College Drive
San Diego
92111-4999
(619) 388-2697
Program Director: Ms. Margaret Fickess
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2012
Next Accreditation Visit: 2019

Dental Assisting – City College of San Francisco
California
City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Avenue
San Francisco
94112
415-239-3479
Program Director: Ms. Tiffany Ren
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2013
Next Accreditation Visit: 2020

Dental Assisting – San Jose City College
California
San Jose City College
2100 Moorpark Avenue
San Jose
95128
(408) 298-2181 x3255
www.sjcc.edu/academics/departments/dental-assisting
Program Director: Ms. Edna Dolatre
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2017
Next Accreditation Visit: 2024

Dental Assisting – Palomar Community College
California
Palomar Community College
1140 West Mission Road
San Marcos
92069
(760) 744-1150 x2571
Program Director: Ms. Denise E. Rudy
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2012
Next Accreditation Visit: 2019

Dental Assisting – College of San Mateo
California
College of San Mateo
1700 West Hillsdale Blvd
San Mateo
94402
650-574-6211
Program Director: Ms. Beth LaRochelle
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2011
Next Accreditation Visit: 2018

Dental Assisting – Santa Rosa Junior College
California
Santa Rosa Junior College
1501 Mendocino Avenue
Santa Rosa
95401-4395
707-527-4583
dentalprograms.santarosa.edu
Program Director: Ms. Carol Lou Hatrick
Discipline Code: DA
Accreditation Status: Approval without Reporting Requirements
Last Accreditation Visit: 2012
Next Accreditation Visit: 2019

Step 3: Complete training course in California and required hands-on training hours

After finding an accredited program that meets your requirements, the next thing is to finish it. The academic and hands-on sections of the conventional program can be completed in 12 months or less.

The majority of training programs dedicate the classroom section of their syllabus to the subject matter that is included in the national certification assessments. Giving students hands-on experience in an actual dental office, on the other hand, is the emphasis of the internship section of a course.

Step 4: Pass the NELDA or CDA Certification Exam

There are two highly-popular dental assistant certification tests – the NELDA and CDA. Becoming eligible to challenge these examinations requires you to initially graduate from a CODA-accredited training course. College students who pass either examination obtain the nationally-acknowledged distinction of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

Each of these tests are broken down in more depth here.

Dental assistant pay in California

Dental assistant salary in California is shown in the table below. All data come directly from the bls.gov website.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Yearly$25,460 $36,940 $52,000
CaliforniaHourly$11.89$17.89$27.62
Yearly$24,730 $37,220 $57,450
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSAHourly$13.46$22.53$32.95
Yearly$28,000 $46,850 $68,530
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA MSAHourly$15.86$22.07$31.04
Yearly$32,980 $45,900 $64,560
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$13.75$21.60$30.85
Yearly$28,590 $44,940 $64,180
Napa, CA MSAHourly$11.58$21.42$28.34
Yearly$24,080 $44,560 $58,950
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA MSAHourly$15.95$21.03$27.81
Yearly$33,170 $43,750 $57,840
Chico, CA MSAHourly$13.66$20.62$25.57
Yearly$28,410 $42,900 $53,180
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA MSAHourly$13.39$19.60$27.96
Yearly$27,850 $40,770 $58,160
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA MSAHourly$13.23$19.21$24.94
Yearly$27,520 $39,960 $51,870
North Coast Region (BOS)Hourly$13.39$19.19$27.03
Yearly$27,860 $39,910 $56,230
Yuba City, CA MSAHourly$13.49$19.08$23.91
Yearly$28,060 $39,690 $49,740
Salinas, CA MSAHourly$14.98$19.00$27.84
Yearly$31,170 $39,520 $57,920
Visalia-Porterville, CA MSAHourly$13.73$18.97$24.70
Yearly$28,560 $39,450 $51,380
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$15.32$18.86$28.50
Yearly$31,870 $39,230 $59,270
Madera-Chowchilla, CA MSAHourly$13.16$18.66$26.10
Yearly$27,380 $38,820 $54,280
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA MSAHourly$13.37$18.59$25.74
Yearly$27,810 $38,660 $53,550
Hanford-Corcoran, CA MSAHourly$13.22$18.57$26.68
Yearly$27,510 $38,620 $55,490
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA MSAHourly$14.57$18.44$23.99
Yearly$30,300 $38,350 $49,890
Mother Lode Region (BOS)Hourly$12.69$17.94$26.10
Yearly$26,400 $37,320 $54,290
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA MSAHourly$12.83$17.83$26.96
Yearly$26,700 $37,080 $56,070
North Valley Region (BOS)Hourly$11.20$17.07$23.70
Yearly$23,290 $35,510 $49,310
Northern Mountains Region (BOS)Hourly$10.94$16.95$28.56
Yearly$22,760 $35,260 $59,410
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$11.15$16.70$26.35
Yearly$23,190 $34,740 $54,820
Stockton, CA MSAHourly$13.09$16.56$23.34
Yearly$27,230 $34,450 $48,550
Modesto, CA MSAHourly$11.73$16.51$24.58
Yearly$24,400 $34,330 $51,140
Redding, CA MSAHourly$12.59$16.43$24.08
Yearly$26,180 $34,180 $50,090
El Centro, CA MSAHourly$10.75$16.31$26.09
Yearly$22,360 $33,930 $54,270
Bakersfield-Delano, CA MSAHourly$11.13$16.02$24.54
Yearly$23,140 $33,330 $51,050
Merced, CA MSAHourly$11.02$15.55$22.46
Yearly$22,920 $32,350 $46,710
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSAHourly$10.72$15.23$23.02
Yearly$22,290 $31,680 $47,880
Fresno, CA MSAHourly$10.37$13.94$21.78
Yearly$21,570 $28,990 $45,300