The dental assistant in Tennessee is a beginning medical worker who supports the dentist with many everyday duties in the office. Some assistants can become employed even if they aren’t certified, but this is definitely becoming uncommon as the vast majority of employers now choose to employ only individuals who have finished a formal training program.

This job is a good one for those people who are launching their careers in the medical field, thanks to the escalating need for their abilities in Tennessee. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 report forecasts that the number of new positions for dental assistants will surge by 19% through the year 2026.

What does a dental assistant do in Tennessee?

The major duties of the dental assistant in Tennessee center around the things that help the office take care of its customers and provide basic dental care. Though some facilities may require even further duties, the following link shows the primary function of most dental assistants.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in Tennessee

The process for becoming a dental assistant in Tennessee can be summed-up in the next four actions.

Step 1 – Earn your high school diploma or GED

Earning your high school diploma is a basic fundamental to finding work in any skilled position. This is true with regards to working in healthcare. There are some jobs in the field that can be secured without a high school education, but they typically provide little room for growth.

Where dental assistant training programs are concerned, you’ll also find quickly that most authorized training programs want students to provide proof of a high school diploma or G.E.D. prior to starting classes. For these reasons, if you’re interested in earning a living in medical care, it is a wise decision to finish this important 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 decided to become certified. This body coordinates course curricula and standards to make certain of standardized quality in nationwide dental assistant programs.

Why CODA accreditation matters

Because only trainees who finish a training program accredited by the CODA are immediately eligible to sit for either of the national certification exams, it’s crucial that you finish a program that’s recognized by this organization.

Dental assistant classes online

In order to better cater to pupils who have jobs or have other responsibilities that make going to class challenging, a large number of schools feature online pharmacy tech programs. In circumstances where a college student may not live in close proximity to a school, these courses are likewise ideal.

To clarify a popular false impression, even though online courses enable students to undertake their academic studies via distance education, the clinical, internship section of their training must be finished at a physical site.

Step 3: Graduate from the program and complete the necessary internship hours

The third step is to complete the accredited program you’ve selected. The academic and internship sections of the conventional program may be completed in a year or less.

The academic section of your training will most likely cover all of the concepts and procedural-type information that is found in the certification assessment. Offering college students hands-on training in a real dental office, on the other hand, is the focus of the internship part of a program.

Step 4: Successfully pass either the NELDA or CDA examination

The NELDA and CDA are the two exams that grant nationally-recognized dental assistant credentials. Once you have completed a CODA-accredited program, you will become able to take either of them. You’ll receive the national credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) by passing either examination.

Each of these examinations are described in greater depth here.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

One of the primary national examinations is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA), which is a three-part assessment recognized all through the country. The assessment is given in a timed format, and is composed of three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). A passing grade on the test gives the pupil the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) credential.

Eligibility to sit for the examination requires the student being able to meet either of the next two prerequisites:

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

CDA Exam

The other popular national certification assessment is the CDA, which is awarded by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Test takers have one hour and 45 minutes to finish 60 multiple-choice problems.

In order to become eligible to challenge this assessment, candidates need to meet the following criteria:

  • Finished a CODE-approved dental assistant training program, or
  • Obtained comparable on-the-job experience as a dental assistant

What is the typical dental assistant salary in Tennessee?

Dental assistant salary differs according to many things, but the median wage was $37,630 in 2017 per the most recent data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The following data table reflects the fact that this number varies according to the area you work in.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Morristown, TN MSAHourly$14.92$20.88$29.76
Knoxville, TN MSAHourly$15.21$18.65$23.59
Eastern Tennessee BOSHourly$13.92$18.17$23.49
Memphis, TN-MS-AR MSAHourly$12.03$17.82$24.92
Clarksville, TN-KY MSAHourly$11.37$17.03$23.21
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN MSAHourly$11.39$17.01$22.52
Johnson City, TN MSAHourly$12.75$16.99$22.10
Cleveland, TN MSAHourly$12.06$16.40$20.13
Chattanooga, TN-GA MSAHourly$9.56$15.03$21.59
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA MSAHourly$10.59$14.72$20.66
North Central Tennessee BOSHourly$8.10$14.69$25.93
Western Tennessee BOSHourly$8.91$14.64$23.57
South Central Tennessee BOSHourly$8.43$13.99$18.79
Jackson, TN MSAHourly$10.53$13.98$18.42