The dental assistant in Pennsylvania is an entry-level health worker who assists the dentist in multiple daily duties in the office. Certification isn’t required in all 50 states, yet the current trend among employers has been in direction of just employing candidates who carry a certification.

Due to unprecedented demand for new dental assistants in Pennsylvania, this occupation is extremely sought after with people seeking an entry-level job in the medical field. As a matter of fact, per the most current data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 19% rise in dental assistant employment over the next decade.

What do dental assistants do in Pennsylvania?

Dental assistants in Pennsylvania work under the supervision of a dentist, and are given the task of completing a number of supporting functions that help in keeping the office operating smoothly. The subsequent lint features the basic assignments that offices put on their assistants.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in Pennsylvania

The four steps to become a dental assistant in Pennsylvania are shown below.

Step 1 – Get your high school diploma or GED

The very first step towards any career you pursue really should be earning your high school diploma. When considering careers in the healthcare field, this is extremely true. And even in cases when it is feasible to secure a position without your high school diploma, the positions normally don’t offer much in the way of compensation or chances for advancement.

When shopping for a dental assistant certification class, you can expect to find that the majority of schools require trainees to hold a diploma or G.E.D. prior to enrollment. For these reasons, if you are considering earning a living in healthcare, it’s always a good idea to finish this worthwhile first step.

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

If you’ve chosen to pursue your certification, the next thing is to register for a dental assistant training program that is approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). This body coordinates course curricula and guidelines assuring consistent high quality in nationwide dental assistant schools.

Why CODA accreditation is important

Accreditation by the CODA is deemed essential due to the fact that only graduates from a course approved by this body may take one of the national certification exams.

Online dental assistant school

A popular alternative to on-campus programs, dental assistant classes online offer college students the flexibility to go to class and finish their education according to their personal daily schedules. In instances where a pupil might not live near a campus-based class, these classes are also ideal.

To explain a common misconception, although online courses enable students to undertake their academic studies via online learning, the clinical, hands-on portion of their training has to be finished at a physical site.

Step 3: Fulfill all necessary hands-on training hours and finish the program

Once you have found an approved program that meets your requirements, the next thing is to complete it. The classroom and internship segments of the conventional course can often be finished in a year or less.

The academic segment of your training will probably incorporate all of the principles and procedural-type stuff that is going to be a part of the certification assessment. Giving college students hands-on practice in a dental office, on the other hand, is the emphasis of the internship section of a course.

Step 4: Pass one of the main national certification exams

The NELDA and CDA are the two exams that award nationally-recognized dental assisting credentials. Eligibility to challenge these exams requires you to initially graduate from a CODA-accredited program. You will acquire the national credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) by passing either test.

Below is a brief explanation of the two examinations.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

The National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA) is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and is a three-part test. The one-hour, 50-minute assessment is comprised of three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). Students who successfully pass the test gain the title National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA).

Becoming eligible to challenge the examination requires the student being able to satisfy either of the next two criteria:

  • Graduated from a CODA-approved dental assistant training course, or
  • Obtained equivalent work experience as a dental assistant

CDA Exam

The CDA Exam is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and also awards the title of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). This multiple-choice exam includes 60 questions, offered in a timed format.

Being eligible for this test also depends on the candidate having either:

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

How much does a dental assistant make in Pennsylvania?

Dental assistant compensation may vary according to many things, but the median pay was $37,630 in 2017 according to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data below features the most current numbers on salary available in Pennsylvania.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Lancaster, PA MSAHourly$13.71$19.95$24.32
Newark-Union, NJ-PA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$11.87$19.85$28.13
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA MSAHourly$13.68$17.46$25.92
Reading, PA MSAHourly$12.97$17.04$25.77
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSAHourly$10.19$17.03$23.31
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA MSAHourly$13.47$16.94$21.27
Altoona, PA MSAHourly$10.82$16.90$22.90
Far Western Pennsylvania BOSHourly$12.19$16.89$21.33
Pittsburgh, PA MSAHourly$12.42$16.62$23.03
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA MSAHourly$12.87$16.50$21.56
Lebanon, PA MSAHourly$12.98$15.81$22.75
Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$9.90$15.76$26.50
Williamsport, PA MSAHourly$12.05$15.62$23.77
York-Hanover, PA MSAHourly$11.52$15.56$23.46
State College, PA MSAHourly$11.39$15.45$20.11
Northeastern Pennsylvania BOSHourly$12.39$15.13$19.98
Erie, PA MSAHourly$10.70$14.35$18.74
West Central Pennsylvania BOSHourly$9.63$14.09$22.30
Johnstown, PA MSAHourly$10.68$13.27$16.23