How to Become a Dental Assistant in Berkeley California
Selecting the right dental assistant training course near Berkeley CA is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the dental assistant program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant in Berkeley CA
Dental assistants are an important part of any Berkeley CA dental office and can undertake a multitude of tasks. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the California dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Training Options near Berkeley CA
Dental assistant programs are available at California community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in California trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Berkeley CA dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Classes
Enrolling in an online dental assistant course might be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Berkeley CA home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can begin the process of comparing California programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Berkeley CA area colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Berkeley CA often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited California programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make sure that the Berkeley CA college you decide on has the program that’s right for you. However, keep in mind that just because a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental hygienist program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Berkeley CA area school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Berkeley CA dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant schools require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Berkeley CA dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Berkeley CA area programs you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Berkeley CA.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near your Berkeley CA home at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Berkeley CA?
Following is some interesting background information about Berkeley California that you may find helpful.
Berkeley (/ˈbɜːrkli/ BURK-lee) is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Anglo-Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.
Berkeley is home to the oldest campus in the University of California system, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is managed and operated by the University. It also has the Graduate Theological Union, one of the largest religious studies institutions in the world. Berkeley is one of the most socially liberal cities in the United States.
The site of today's City of Berkeley was the territory of the Chochenyo/Huchiun band of the Ohlone people when the first Europeans arrived. Evidence of their existence in the area include pits in rock formations, which they used to grind acorns, and a shellmound, now mostly leveled and covered up, along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the mouth of Strawberry Creek. Other artifacts were discovered in the 1950s in the downtown area during remodeling of a commercial building, near the upper course of the creek.
Select the Ideal Dental Assistant Program near Berkeley CA
Selecting the right dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require approximately one year of study before they enter the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Berkeley CA.
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