The dental assistant in Iowa is a beginning healthcare worker who helps the dentist in a number of daily functions in the office. While it is actually possible for individuals who have graduated from high school to learn about this position by means of on-the-job training, the majority of hiring managers prefer to employ applicants who have finished a 12-month dental assistant certification training course.

Thanks to record demand for new dental assistants in Iowa, this career path is extremely popular among men and women seeking an entry-level job in the medical field. As a matter of fact, according to the newest numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 19% rise in dental assisting jobs during the next decade.

What is a dental assistant?

Dental assistants in Iowa work under the supervision of a dentist, and are given the task of carrying out a range of support tasks that assist in keeping the office operating smoothly. Though some managers can require even further responsibilities, the following checklist here illustrates the principal function of the majority of dental assistants.

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

The four-step process for becoming a dental assistant in Iowa is displayed below.

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

Earning your high school diploma is a basic foundation to becoming employed in any professional position. Working in the healthcare field is no different. There are some positions in the field that may be held without a high school diploma, but they usually offer little room for advancement.

When looking for a dental assistant certification program, you can expect to find that almost all schools require students to hold a diploma or G.E.D. prior to enrollment. So, whatever your ultimate professional career goals, be sure that you finish this first step.

Step 2: Register for courses approved by the CODA

If you have decided to earn your certification, the next step is to enroll in a dental assistant training program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The CODA is a nationally-recognized body that coordinates dental assisting training around the nation.

Why CODA accreditation is important

It is absolutely vital that you graduate from a training program accredited by the CODA, given that only those students who have finished an approved training program are permitted to sit for one of the national certification exams.

Dental assistant classes online

A desirable alternative option to campus-based courses, online dental assistant programs give pupils the opportunity to go to class and finish their studies according to their personal daily schedules. For pupils who don’t live close to a college campus that features the courses they want, online programs are always an attractive alternative.

Be conscious, though, that online programs still ask pupils to finish their internship hours at a physical site associated with the school.

Step 3: Finish the program and complete the required internship hours

The third step will be to finish the accredited program you’ve selected. The classroom and internship sections of the typical program can often be completed in 12 months or less.

The classroom section of your studies will most likely incorporate all of the principles and procedural-type stuff that is included in the certification test. The externship, however, will give you the opportunity to put the things you learn into use in a functioning, professional environment.

Step 4: Successfully pass either the NELDA or CDA test

There are two highly-popular dental assistant certification tests – the NELDA and CDA. Once you’ve completed a CODA-approved course, you’ll be able to challenge either of them. A passing grade on either test will award you the title Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

We take a deeper look at these exams below.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

Provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam, or NELDA as it is called, is a three-part examination administered in every state. The examination is given in a timed structure, and contains three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). A passing score on the exam gives the student the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) credential.

Becoming eligible to take the test requires the pupil having the ability to satisfy either of the following two prerequisites:

    • Graduated from a CODA-approved dental assistant program, or
    • Acquired equivalent work experience as a dental assistant

CDA Exam

The second major national certification exam is the CDA, which is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Test takers get one hour and 45 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice questions.

To be eligible to take this examination, individuals must meet the following criteria:

    • Graduated from a CODE-approved dental assistant program, or
    • Obtained equivalent on-the-job experience as a dental assistant

How much does a dental assistant make in Iowa?

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

The data below features the most recent numbers on salary offered in Iowa.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Ames, IA MSAHourly$16.90$21.65$26.44
Cedar Rapids, IA MSAHourly$16.44$21.61$28.63
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA MSAHourly$16.08$21.35$27.23
Northeast Iowa BOSHourly$14.31$20.34$24.17
Iowa City, IA MSAHourly$14.80$18.48$25.21
Northwest Iowa BOSHourly$15.60$18.47$23.21
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA MSAHourly$15.15$18.14$23.24
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL MSAHourly$13.53$17.58$23.48
Southeast Iowa BOSHourly$13.16$17.13$23.66
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD MSAHourly$12.95$17.11$22.48
Dubuque, IA MSAHourly$11.95$16.88$20.23
Southwest Iowa BOSHourly$10.55$16.64$23.60
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA MSAHourly$12.50$16.25$20.56