The dental assistant in Massachusetts is a beginning healthcare worker who assists the dentist with multiple daily duties around the office. A number of assistants can find positions even when they are not certified, but this is becoming uncommon since the majority of employers now prefer to hire just those candidates who have completed a formal training program.

Because of unprecedented demand for new dental assistants in Massachusetts, this profession is quite popular among people seeking an entry-level position in healthcare. The 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 19% surge in new jobs for dental assistants through 2026.

What does a dental assistant do in Massachusetts?

The basic duties of the dental assistant in Massachusetts focus on the tasks which help the office take care of its clients and provide basic dental care. The following link shows the typical assignments that offices put on their assistants.

How to become a dental assistant in Massachusetts.

The four-part process for becoming a dental assistant in Massachusetts is displayed below.

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

Regardless of the job you choose to pursue, getting a high school diploma should be regarded as the first step. Working in the medical field is no different. Even in cases where it is possible to gain employment without your high school diploma, the jobs often do not offer much in terms of pay or chances for growth.

While shopping for a dental assistant certification program, you may also find that the majority of educators require students to have a G.E.D. or diploma before enrollment. And so, whatever your ultimate professional goals, be sure that you complete this first step.

Step 2: Register for courses approved by the CODA

Looking for a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited training course is the next step if you have chosen to become certified. The CODA is a nationally-recognized organization that coordinates dental assisting education around the nation.

Why CODA accreditation is important

Considering that only students who finish a program accredited by the CODA are immediately entitled to challenge either of the national certification exams, it is crucial that you graduate from a training course that is approved by this body.

A look at online dental assistant programs

A favored alternative option to campus-based programs, online dental assistant programs give college students the versatility to go to class and finish their training according to their personal daily schedules. In cases where a person may not live near a campus-based class, these courses are also ideal.

Although it is possible to complete the classroom section of a course online, it’ll still be necessary to finish the hands-on training component in-person at a specified location.

Step 3: Graduate from training course and required internship hours

Once you’ve found an approved course that satisfies your goals, the next thing is to finish it. The classroom section can often be finished in one year or less, but finishing the required internship hours (sometimes called an “externship”) at a dental office can often take more time.

The academic portion of your studies is likely to incorporate all of the theory and procedural-type content that is found in the certification exam. In regards to the internship portion of the training, this is where trainees get hands-on training in a functioning dental office setting.

Step 4: Successfully pass the NELDA or CDA test

The NELDA and CDA are tests that grant nationally-accepted dental assisting certifications. Eligibility to challenge these examinations calls for you to initially finish a CODA-accredited training course. A passing score on either exam will give you the title Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

The following is a short explanation of both tests.

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 test accepted in all 50 states. The one-hour, 50-minute assessment is comprised of three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). Candidates who successfully pass the exam earn the title National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA).

To be approved to challenge this test, a candidate needs to have either:

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

CDA Exam

Also provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), is the CDA also awards the nationally-recognized title Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) to candidates who receive a passing score. This timed assessment includes 60 questions, offered in a timed format.

You need to have the ability to meet one of the following conditions so that you can can challenge the examination:

    • Finished a CODE-approved dental assistant course, or
    • Gained comparable on-the-job experience as a dental assistant

Dental assistant pay in Massachusetts

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

The following data table reflects that this range varies dependent on the area you choose to work in.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA-NH NECTA DivisionHourly$16.40$24.96$30.14
Nashua, NH-MA NECTA DivisionHourly$15.28$23.46$30.02
Taunton-Norton-Raynham, MA NECTA DivisionHourly$13.87$22.12$29.40
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA NECTA DivisionHourly$16.64$21.82$28.23
Worcester, MA-CT Metropolitan NECTAHourly$15.34$21.81$28.79
Barnstable Town, MA Metropolitan NECTAHourly$16.64$21.76$28.51
Pittsfield, MA Metropolitan NECTAHourly$14.19$20.62$24.11
Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner, MA Metropolitan NECTAHourly$13.64$20.60$24.98
Lawrence-Methuen-Salem, MA-NH NECTA DivisionHourly$13.59$20.30$28.57
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, MA NECTA DivisionHourly$15.08$20.24$24.84
Framingham, MA NECTA DivisionHourly$16.15$20.24$26.31
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA DivisionHourly$10.01$20.21$29.29
Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA Metropolitan NECTAHourly$14.88$20.11$24.48
Springfield, MA-CT Metropolitan NECTAHourly$15.22$19.60$27.47
Peabody, MA NECTA DivisionHourly$13.25$19.06$28.86
Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard BOSHourly$15.91$18.06$23.34
New Bedford, MA Metropolitan NECTAHourly$15.87$18.04$22.75
Northwest Massachusetts BOSHourly$13.04$17.18$22.58