The dental assistant in Colorado is a beginning healthcare worker who aids the dentist with a number of everyday duties in the office. While it’s possible for those individuals who have graduated from high school to prepare for this career by means of on-the-job training, the majority of hiring managers would rather hire applicants who have finished a one-year dental assistant certification program.

This position is a good one for those who are starting their careers in healthcare, due to the escalating demand for their skills in Colorado. The 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 19% growth in new roles for dental assistants through 2026.

What is a dental assistant?

Dental assistants in Colorado work under the guidance of a dentist, and are given the task of carrying out a number of support functions that assist in keeping the office running efficiently. The typical duties performed by the vast majority of dental assistants are listed here.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in Colorado

The four steps to becoming a dental assistant in Colorado are listed below.

Step 1 – Get your high school diploma or GED

Regardless of the career you decide to pursue, earning a high school diploma should always be regarded as the initial step. Finding a position in the healthcare field is no exception. Although it is sometimes possible to get certain entry-level jobs without a diploma or G.E.D., you will sooner or later find that chances for growth are minimal.

If looking for a dental assistant certification class, you may find that most programs require trainees to hold a diploma or G.E.D. prior to registration. That being said, if you are thinking about working in medical care, it’s a good idea to finish this worthwhile initial step.

Step 2: Sign-up for classes approved by the CODA

Looking for a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited course is the next step if you have decided to get certified. Dental assisting schools across the nation are regulated by the CODA, who operates to standardize education in the industry across the country.

What’s CODA accreditation?

Accreditation by the CODA is regarded as imperative due to the fact that only graduates from a program accredited by this body can take one of the national certification exams.

Dental assistant classes online

As is true with the majority of distance education offerings, online dental assistant programs are a preferred alternative for people who are juggling multiple obligations. For students who do not live close to a college campus that features the classes they are looking for, online courses are always an attractive option.

To clarify a common misconception, although online classes enable students to complete their classroom studies through distance education, the clinical, internship section of their education must be completed at a physical site.

Step 3: Meet all necessary internship hours and graduate from the program

The third step will be to graduate from the accredited program you have selected. The academic and internship parts of the typical program can oftentimes be finished in a year or less.

The academic part of your studies will most likely cover all of the principles and procedural-type content that is found in the certification assessment. The externship, however, will give you the chance to put everything you learn into use in a functioning, professional environment.

Step 4: Pass one of the national certification examinations

The NELDA and CDA are tests that grant nationally-accepted dental assisting credentials. Becoming eligible to take these assessments requires you to initially complete a CODA-accredited course. You’ll receive the national credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) by passing either exam.

Let’s take a deeper look at these examinations below.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

One of the primary nationwide examinations is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA), which is a three-part assessment administered throughout the country. The one-hour, 50-minute examination contains three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). A passing score on the examination gives the student the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) credential.

A test taker must be able to satisfy one of the next two criteria to be able to take the test:

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

CDA Exam

The CDA is provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and additionally awards the credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). There are 60 multiple-choice questions on this one-hour, 45-minute timed exam.

To become eligible to take this exam, candidates have to meet one of the following prerequisites:

    • Completed a CODE-accredited dental assistant course, or
    • Gained equivalent on-the-job experience as a dental assistant

Dental assistant pay in Colorado

The median annual dental assistant salary was $37,630 in May 2017 per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The table below contains the latest numbers on salary available in Colorado.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO MSAHourly$12.05$19.57$26.07
Fort Collins-Loveland, CO MSAHourly$13.84$18.99$24.25
Northcentral Colorado BOSHourly$13.63$18.78$24.09
West Colorado BOSHourly$13.31$18.73$23.41
Boulder, CO MSAHourly$14.03$18.47$30.41
Greeley, CO MSAHourly$14.26$18.45$25.88
Colorado Springs, CO MSAHourly$12.45$16.98$23.00
Grand Junction, CO MSAHourly$13.20$16.96$24.17
Pueblo, CO MSAHourly$10.18$15.99$23.17
East and South Colorado BOSHourly$8.86$13.94$19.25