Dental assistants in Utah are entry-level health workers who assist dentists with routine dental procedures and administrative tasks around the dentist’s office. Although it is possible for those individuals who have graduated from high school to learn this career through on-the-job training, the majority of organizations would rather employ applicants who have finished a 12-month dental assistant certification course.

This job is a great one for individuals who are starting their careers in the medical field, thanks to the skyrocketing demand for their abilities in Utah. In fact, per the newest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 19% rise in dental assistant employment through the next decade.

What is a dental assistant?

In general, dental assistants in Utah handle a range of day-to-day customer service and patient care tasks for the dentist. The link here shows the basic responsibilities that offices place on their assistants.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in Utah

The four steps to become a dental assistant in Utah are outlined below.

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

No matter which career you decide to go after, receiving a high school diploma should always be considered the first step. When it comes to jobs in the healthcare industry, this is extremely true. You can find openings in the field that can be secured without a high school diploma, but they typically provide little room for advancement.

On top of that, most dental assistant training programs call for students to be high school graduates or have a G.E.D. as part of their admissions requirements. That being said, if you are thinking about working in healthcare, it is a smart idea to complete this important step.

Step 2: Sign-up for a CODA-accredited training course

Choosing a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited course is the next step if you’ve decided to get certified. The CODA is a nationally-recognized organization that coordinates dental assistant training around the nation.

The need for CODA accreditation

Due to the fact that only students who complete a program approved by the CODA are immediately able to take one of the national certification exams, it is imperative that you finish a program that is approved by this body.

A look at online dental assistant programs

A desirable alternative to on-campus instruction, dental assistant classes online provide pupils the opportunity to attend class and finish their studies per their personal schedules. These programs can also be well suited for those who do not live near an institution that offers dental assisting training.

To explain a common myth, although online courses let students to finish their academic studies via distance education, the clinical, internship portion of their education has to be completed at a physical location.

Step 3: Complete the program and complete the necessary internship hours

Once you have located an approved course that satisfies your needs, the next step is to complete it. Although every course is somewhat different, it’s quite common for students to complete their classroom training and internship in as little as a year.

The academic portion of your training will likely include all of the principles and procedural-type content that will be included in the certification test. With regards to the hands-on portion of the program, this is when trainees get hands-on training in a functioning dental office environment.

Step 4: Successfully pass the NELDA or CDA test

There are two highly-popular dental assistant certification tests – the NELDA and CDA. You must finish a course recognized by the CODA to be qualified to challenge either of these examinations. College students who pass either exam obtain the nationally-accepted title of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

Each of these examinations are broken down in more detail below.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

One of the primary national exams is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA), which is a three-part assessment recognized throughout the nation. The one-hour, 50-minute examination consists of three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). Right after passing the test, the student earns the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) credential.

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 earn a passing mark. There are 60 multiple-choice questions on this one-hour, 45-minute timed exam.

You need to have the ability to satisfy one of the following conditions so that you can can challenge the exams above:

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

Dental assistant pay in Utah

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

Dental assistant salary in Utah varies to some extent from the nation’s median, as is displayed in the data table below.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Provo-Orem, UT MSAHourly$12.18$14.66$19.05
Salt Lake City, UT MSAHourly$10.84$14.62$18.68
Ogden-Clearfield, UT MSAHourly$10.06$14.33$18.70
South Western Utah BOSHourly$10.47$14.24$18.86
West Central Utah BOSHourly$11.90$13.89$16.90
Eastern Utah BOSHourly$10.49$13.46$17.79
St. George, UT MSAHourly$10.05$13.31$18.00
Logan, UT-ID MSAHourly$8.65$13.10$18.08