Dental assistants in Indiana are entry-level health professionals who assist dentists with routine dental procedures and administrative tasks around the dentist’s office. Although it is actually possible for men and women who have graduated from high school to learn about this position through on-the-job training, the majority of employers would rather employ applicants who have completed a 12-month dental assistant certification training course.

Thanks to unprecedented demand for new dental assistants in Indiana, this occupation is extremely sought after among people looking for an entry-level job in the medical field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 report projects that the number of new jobs for dental assistants will surge by 19% through 2026.

What do dental assistants do in Indiana?

Generally speaking, dental assistants in Indiana handle a variety of daily customer support and patient care responsibilities for the dentist. While many employers may require even more responsibilities, the link here illustrates the principal role of most dental assistants.

What is the process to become a dental assistant in Indiana?

The process to become a dental assistant in Indiana can be summarized in the next four actions.

Step 1 – Earn your high school diploma or G.E.D.

Receiving your high school diploma is one of the critical foundations to becoming employed in any type of professional job. With employment opportunities in the healthcare field, this is especially true. And even in cases when it is possible to find a position without finishing high school, the positions often don’t offer much in terms of pay or chances for advancement.

On top of that, many dental assistant training programs call for students to be high school graduates or hold a G.E.D. as part of their admissions prerequisites. For that reason, regardless of your ultimate career goals, be sure that you take this first step.

Step 2: Register for a CODA-accredited training program

If you’ve chosen to get your professional certification, the next move is to sign-up for a dental assistant training program that is recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The CODA is a nationally-recognized organization that coordinates dental assisting training across the country.

What’s CODA accreditation?

Since only individuals who finish a training program approved by the CODA are immediately eligible to challenge either of the national certification exams, it is crucial that you finish a training program that’s accredited by this body.

About online dental assistant programs

A desirable alternative option to campus-based programs, online dental assistant programs provide students the opportunity to go to class and finish their education per their own daily schedules. These courses can also be great for those who do not live in close proximity to an institution that provides dental assisting education.

To explain a popular myth, while online courses permit students to complete their academic studies via distance learning, the clinical, internship section of their education needs to be finished at a physical site.

Step 3: Finish program and necessary hands-on training hours

The third step is to complete the accredited course you have selected. The classroom part can often be completed in one year or less, but completing the mandatory internship hours (occasionally called an “externship”) at a dental office may possibly take longer.

The classroom segment of your coursework will likely cover all of the principles and procedural-type content that is going to be a part of the certification exam. The externship, however, will present you with the chance to put everything you learn into use in a functioning, professional setting.

Step 4: Pass one of the main national certification exams

There are two highly-popular dental assistant certification tests – the NELDA and CDA. You will need to complete a course accredited by the CODA in order to be qualified to challenge either of these exams. You will acquire the national credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) by passing either test.

Next is a brief breakdown of both tests.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

One of the primary nationwide tests is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA), which is a three-part examination recognized all over the nation. The NELDA includes three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP) given in a one-hour, 50-minute timed structure. Students who pass the assessment earn the title National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA).

Becoming eligible to sit for the examination requires the student having the ability to meet either of the next two prerequisites:

    • Graduated from a CODA-approved dental assistant training program, or
    • Obtained comparable on-the-job experience as a dental assistant

CDA Exam

Also provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), is the CDA Exam additionally grants the nationally-regarded title Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) to individuals who earn a passing mark. Test takers get one hour and 45 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice questions.

To become eligible to sit for this examination, candidates need to satisfy one of the following prerequisites:

    • Finished a CODE-accredited dental assistant program, or
    • Acquired equivalent work experience as a dental assistant

How much does a dental assistant make in Indiana?

Dental assistant pay fluctuates based on several factors, but the median wage was $37,630 in 2017 according to the most recent information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data table below contains the latest data on salary offered in Indiana.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Kokomo, IN MSAHourly$8.58$21.14$28.86
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI MSAHourly$13.68$20.13$26.44
Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN MSAHourly$13.18$19.06$25.16
Indianapolis-Carmel, IN MSAHourly$14.15$18.89$24.46
Gary, IN Metropolitan DivisionHourly$12.59$18.76$25.70
Fort Wayne, IN MSAHourly$12.93$18.57$24.89
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN MSAHourly$14.07$18.35$26.03
Evansville, IN-KY MSAHourly$13.69$18.34$24.15
Northeast Indiana BOSHourly$12.28$18.27$25.83
Elkhart-Goshen, IN MSAHourly$13.61$18.16$23.61
Bloomington, IN MSAHourly$13.80$18.13$23.62
Northwest Indiana BOSHourly$15.83$18.02$22.62
Michigan City-La Porte, IN MSAHourly$12.10$16.87$22.22
Southwest/ Southeast Indiana BOSHourly$11.53$16.83$20.73
Muncie, IN MSAHourly$12.67$16.48$19.02
Terre Haute, IN MSAHourly$9.94$11.22$15.89