If you have decided that becoming a dental assistant is the right choice for you, then you’re on the right track. But this first decision is just the beginning! You also have to pick which school is right for you. With more than 280 dental assisting schools in the United States, the good news is that you have a lot of options. The bad news is that it might make your decision very difficult! There are a few key aspects to keep in mind to make sure you choose the right educational environment.
1. Length of Program.
Depending on your state’s requirements, you may only need to complete a short training program and acquire a certificate, or you may need to enroll in a two-year program. Regardless, you will want to carefully consider the type of program in which you are interested. It may be wise to complete a longer degree program even if it isn’t mandated. This way you can ensure that you are adequately prepared to take on positions in the dental industry.
2. Tuition and Rates.
You should take the time to work out your budget beforehand so you know exactly what you can afford. It will make a difference if you look for a program at a major university or at a community college and if you go to a public or private institution. The financial aspect may also influence the length of program you commit to, as most schools charge per semester. This means that two-year degree programs are generally more expensive than shorter options.
There are two sides to dental assisting school – the clinical side, and the administrative side. Some schools may focus on one more than the other, for example by offering more classes in billing and coding, or more hands-on classes where you practice cleaning teeth or taking x-rays. Where you choose to focus should depend on where your interests lie and in what area you would prefer to work. Chances are you’ll have to work in both the office and with the dentist when you actually get a job, but you can always try to specialize.
Where do you want to go to school? Chances are you won’t move out of the area to attend a shorter program, but there may be multiple options for you in your area. It might be a good idea to stay close to work or your house so the commute is easy and convenient.
5. Facilities and Amenities Offered on Campus.
The right facilities can make all the difference when it comes to school. Take a tour of campus too see what kinds of laboratories the school offers and what kind of technology the classroom is equipped with. Interactive computer labs, online learning platforms, state-of-the art lab equipment, and dentist equipment with which you can practice can all contribute to an education that will stick.
The specifics of your education will vary slightly depending on what kinds of decisions you make about the above aspects. Some choices, like location, might be easy. Others, like program length, might have you mulling over a lot of different options. Make sure to check what enrollment dates are for each program you are considering as well. Depending on what you find, you may have a lot of time to nail down the right institution for you, or you might be feeling the pressure! Best of luck!