The dental assistant in West Virginia is a beginning medical worker who helps the dentist with various daily functions in the office. A handful of assistants may find positions even if they are not certified, but this is becoming rare as the majority of facilities now choose to employ just those individuals who have completed an accredited program.

Because of record demand for new dental assistants in West Virginia, this career path is quite desirable with people who want an entry-level job in the medical field. As a matter of fact, based on the most current numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 19% growth in dental assisting positions through the next 10 years.

What does a dental assistant do in West Virginia?

Dental assistants in West Virginia are employed under the guidance of a dentist, and are responsible for performing a range of support duties that help to keep the office operating smoothly. The following link reflects the standard responsibilities that offices place on their assistants.

The steps to becoming a dental assistant in West Virginia

The four steps to become a dental assistant in West Virginia are listed below.

Step 1 – Finish high school or earn your G.E.D.

Getting your high school diploma is a basic fundamental to finding work in any specialized job. Finding a job in the medical field is no different. While it is sometimes possible to get some entry-level jobs without at least a G.E.D., you will eventually discover that your opportunities for advancement are limited.

Furthermore, the majority of dental assistant courses call for students to be high school graduates or G.E.D. holders in their admissions requirements. For these reasons, if you’re planning on earning a living in medical care, it’s always a wise decision to finish this crucial initial step.

Step 2: Enroll in a CODA-accredited training course

The next step in becoming a certified dental assistant is to register for classes that are approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). This organization coordinates program curricula and guidelines to ensure consistent high quality in nationwide dental assisting schools.

Why CODA accreditation is important

Due to the fact that only individuals who complete a training course accredited by the CODA are immediately entitled to sit for either of the national certification exams, it really is imperative that you finish a program that’s accredited by this body.

Dental assistant classes online

In order to better support individuals who are employed or have other commitments that make attending class challenging, a great number of schools feature pharmacy tech classes online. These programs may also be ideal for students who do not live close to a school that offers dental assisting education.

Although it is possible to finish the classroom portion of a course online, it’ll nevertheless be required to complete the internship component in-person at a designated site.

Step 3: Graduate from training course and required hands-on training hours

The third step is to complete the accredited program you have chosen. Although each course is somewhat different, it is fairly common for pupils to finish their academic training and internship in as little as 12 months.

A lot of training classes devote the classroom part of their course of study to the subject matter that will be included in the national certification assessments. In terms of the internship part of the course, this is when students get hands-on experience in a live dental office setting.

Step 4: Successfully pass either the NELDA or CDA test

In order to get a nationally-accepted dental assistant certification, you have to pass either the NELDA or CDA exam. You need to graduate from a course accredited by the CODA to be qualified to sit for one of these examinations. Students who pass either examination earn the nationally-acknowledged distinction of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

We take a deeper look at these exams below.

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

One of the primary nationwide tests is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant Exam (NELDA), which is a three-part exam recognized throughout the nation. The NELDA consists of three component exams (the RHS, ICE and AMP) given in a one-hour, 50-minute timed structure. Individuals who pass the examination gain the title National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA).

A candidate has to be able to satisfy the next two requirements to sit for the test:

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

CDA Exam

The CDA is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and also grants the title of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). This timed examination features 60 questions, given in a timed format.

Eligibility for this exam also depends on the student having either:

  • Graduated from a CODE-accredited dental assistant course, or
  • Obtained equivalent work experience as a dental assistant

How much does a dental assistant make in West Virginia?

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

Dental assistant compensation in West Virginia differs a bit from the nation’s median, as is displayed in the data table below.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$12.24$17.76$25.00
West VirginiaHourly$9.40$13.03$18.25
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan DivisionHourly$14.14$20.19$29.37
Winchester, VA-WV MSAHourly$11.12$17.48$26.42
Cumberland, MD-WV MSAHourly$10.96$16.95$28.50
Morgantown, WV MSAHourly$10.83$16.15$22.88
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSAHourly$12.07$15.94$23.21
Charleston, WV MSAHourly$10.13$14.42$18.71
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH MSAHourly$9.74$14.34$18.92
Wheeling, WV-OH MSAHourly$10.14$14.32$19.95
Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna, WV-OH MSAHourly$10.64$14.10$18.10
Southern West Virginia BOSHourly$9.01$11.94$17.65
North Central West Virginia BOSHourly$9.19$11.31$14.63