Working at dental offices of many types, dental assistants in Washington perform under the guidance of the dentist to make sure that routine dental procedures and administrative tasks are taken care of. Even though it can be possible for men and women with a high school diploma to learn about this job through on-the-job training, almost all hiring managers want to hire applicants who have finished a one-year dental assistant certification program.

This role is a great one for those people who are beginning their careers in healthcare, due to the increasing need for their abilities in Washington. As a matter of fact, according to the latest numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there should be a 19% rise in dental assistant positions over the next decade.

What do dental assistants do in Washington?

Dental assistants in Washington are employed under the supervision of a dentist, and are responsible for completing a number of support tasks that help keep the office running smoothly. Although many employers can require further responsibilities, the following link illustrates the principal role of the majority of dental assistants.

How to become a dental assistant in Washington

The certification process to become a dental assistant in Washington may be summarized in the next four steps.

Step 1 – Complete your high school diploma or GED

Receiving your high school diploma is a basic fundamental to becoming employed in any type of professional position. When it comes to jobs in the medical industry, this is especially true. While it is possible to secure some starting positions without a diploma or G.E.D., you will eventually find that chances for promotion are limited.

On top of that, most dental assistant training programs call for students to be high school graduates or G.E.D. holders in their admissions prerequisites. For that reason, if you’re interested in earning a living in healthcare, it’s always a good idea to finish this important initial step.

Step 2: Enroll in a CODA-accredited training program

The second step in becoming eligible to work as a certified dental assistant is to sign-up for training courses that are approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The CODA is a nationally-recognized body that coordinates dental assisting coursework around the nation.

What’s CODA accreditation?

It’s absolutely imperative that you graduate from a training course accredited by the CODA, since only students who have finished an accredited training program are permitted to challenge one of the national certification exams.

A look at online dental assistant programs

To better cater to students who are employed or have other responsibilities that make going to class difficult, a lot of schools are offering online pharmacy tech programs. In situations where a person might not live near a school, these courses are likewise ideal.

While it’s quite possible to complete the academic section of a course online, it’ll still be required to complete the hands-on training component in-person at a specific location.

Step 3: Satisfy all requisite hands-on training hours and complete the program

The next step is to finish the accredited course you have selected. The academic and hands-on portions of the traditional course can oftentimes be completed in 12 months or less.

The academic section of your coursework will most likely incorporate all of the concepts and procedural-type stuff that will be included in the certification assessment. Offering students hands-on training in an actual dental office, conversely, is the emphasis of the internship part of a course.

Step 4: Pass the NELDA or CDA Certification Exam

There are two highly-popular dental assistant certification examinations – the NELDA and CDA. Becoming eligible to sit for these assessments requires you to initially complete a CODA-accredited training program. A passing grade on either test will give you the title Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

We take a better look at these examinations below.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

One of the primary nationwide examinations is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA), which is a three-part assessment administered throughout the country. The one-hour, 50-minute test consists of three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP). Students who successfully pass the exam receive the title National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA).

CDA Exam

The CDA Exam is provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and also offers the credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). Test takers have one hour and 45 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice problems.

Eligibility for this test also relies on the student having either:

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

How much does a dental assistant make in Washington?

Dental assistant pay may differ according to several things, but the median wage was $37,630 in 2017 according to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The following data table reflects how much this range varies according to the area you choose to work in.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
Northwestern Washington BOSHourly$15.88$21.26$28.33
Olympia, WA MSAHourly$15.34$20.90$24.99
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA MSAHourly$13.99$20.76$27.65
Southwestern Washington BOSHourly$13.34$20.46$26.48
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA MSAHourly$15.59$19.93$27.19
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$15.69$19.79$26.39
Bellingham, WA MSAHourly$16.08$19.72$23.95
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA MSAHourly$13.70$19.44$28.46
Wenatchee-East Wenatchee, WA MSAHourly$13.33$19.34$28.00
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA MSAHourly$15.85$18.97$23.72
Spokane, WA MSAHourly$15.84$18.65$23.38
Longview, WA MSAHourly$15.32$18.42$24.76
Lewiston, ID-WA MSAHourly$15.07$17.95$24.21
Central Washington BOSHourly$12.56$17.19$22.88
Eastern Washington BOSHourly$13.19$17.18$27.12
Tacoma, WA Metropolitan DivisionHourly$12.57$16.26$23.80
Yakima, WA MSAHourly$11.87$15.25$27.03