The dental assistant in South Carolina is an entry-level health worker who supports the dentist with various daily duties in the office. Even though it is possible for individuals who have graduated from high school to learn this job by means of on-the-job training, the majority of organizations would rather employ candidates who have completed a 12-month dental assistant certification program.

The need for dental assistants in South Carolina is projected to increase dramatically in the coming years, making it a good option for people who are beginning their careers. The 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 19% surge in new roles for dental assistants by 2026.

What do dental assistants do in South Carolina?

Dental assistants in South Carolina are employed under the guidance of a dentist, and are responsible for carrying out a range of support tasks that help to keep the office working efficiently. The subsequent link features the traditional assignments that offices place on their assistants.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in South Carolina

The certification process to become a dental assistant in South Carolina may be summarized in the next four actions.

Step 1 – Complete high school or get your G.E.D.

The very first step towards whatever position you pursue really should be completing your high school diploma. With opportunities in the healthcare field, this is particularly true. There are a few jobs in the field that may be held without completing a high school diploma, but they typically provide very little room for advancement.

While shopping for a dental assistant certification course, you will find that almost all schools require students to hold a diploma or G.E.D. prior to registration. For that reason, regardless of your professional goal, make sure that you take this first step.

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

Choosing a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited training course is the second step if you have decided to get certified. The CODA is a nationally-recognized body that coordinates dental assisting education throughout the nation.

The importance of CODA accreditation

Considering that only trainees who graduate from a program accredited by the CODA are immediately able to challenge either of the national certification exams, it really is imperative that you graduate from a program that is accredited by this organization.

About online dental assistant programs

A desirable alternative to on-campus classes, dental assistant classes online give pupils the opportunity to go to class and finish their education per their own daily schedules. For people who do not live close to a physical campus that features the training they are looking for, online courses are also an appealing alternative.

To clear up a popular misconception, even though online classes enable students to complete their classroom studies through online learning, the clinical, hands-on portion of their training needs to be finished at a physical site.

Step 3: Complete training course and necessary hands-on training hours

Graduating from the approved program you decided on in the previous step will be your next order of business. The academic section can frequently be completed in 12 months or less, but completing the required internship hours (occasionally called an “externship”) at a dental office may possibly take longer.

The classroom part of your studies will most likely incorporate all of the principles and procedural-type content that is going to be a part of the certification exam. The externship, however, will give you the opportunity to put what you learn into use in a functioning, professional environment.

Step 4: Pass one of the national certification tests

The NELDA and CDA are the two exams that present nationally-recognized dental assisting certifications. Eligibility to challenge either of these assessments requires you to initially graduate from a CODA-accredited training course. You will receive the national credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) by passing either examination.

We take a better look at these exams below.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

The National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA) is offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and is a three-part exam. The exam is provided in a timed structure, and contains three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). Students who successfully pass the exam earn the distinction National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA).

A candidate must satisfy one of the following two prerequisites in order to challenge the examination:

  • Finished a CODA-approved dental assistant training program, or
  • Acquired comparable work experience as a dental assistant

CDA Exam

Also provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), is the CDA also grants the nationally-regarded title Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) to candidates who earn a passing score. Students have one hour and 45 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice problems.

To be eligible to challenge this assessment, candidates have to satisfy one of the following prerequisites:

  • Finished a CODE-accredited dental assistant program, or
  • Gained comparable work experience as a dental assistant

Dental assistant pay in South Carolina

Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for a dental assistant in the United States was $37,630 as of May 2017.

The data table below contains the most recent data on salary available in South Carolina.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
South CarolinaHourly$13.16$17.32$24.74
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC MSAHourly$15.22$20.31$25.15
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC MSAHourly$13.96$18.26$23.64
Florence, SC MSAHourly$12.42$18.24$24.59
Greenville-Mauldin-Easley, SC MSAHourly$13.74$17.91$28.73
Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, SC MSAHourly$13.47$17.40$27.44
Spartanburg, SC MSAHourly$13.49$17.07$23.08
Pee Dee South Carolina BOSHourly$13.88$17.00$19.43
Low Country South Carolina BOSHourly$12.80$16.76$22.65
Columbia, SC MSAHourly$12.54$16.68$23.08
Sumter, SC MSAHourly$12.55$15.43$19.14
Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC MSAHourly$10.75$15.33$20.20
Upper Savannah South Carolina BOSHourly$12.55$15.07$24.88
Lower Savannah South Carolina BOSHourly$10.85$14.56$22.34