Learn more about our Dental Assistant certificate program and the clinical application requirements and process.
What does a dental assistant do?
A dental assistant performs various tasks. They:
- Assist the dentist with a variety of treatment procedures
- Take dental radiographs
- Serve as an infection control officer, developing infection control protocol and preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
- Help patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment
- Provide patients with instructions for oral care following surgery or other dental treatment procedures, such as the placement of a restoration (filling)
- Teach patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health; (e.g., tooth brushing, flossing and nutritional counseling)
- Take impressions of patients' teeth for study casts (models of teeth)
- Perform office management tasks that often require the use of a personal computer communicating with patients and suppliers (e.g., scheduling appointments, answering the telephone, billing and ordering supplies)
Where do dental assistants work?
Dental assistants help provide direct patient care in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery.
What are the additional expenses of the program?
Download Estimated Expenses (pdf) for a list of estimated expenses.
What degree will I earn? Will I be eligible for credentials?
Upon successful completion you will:
- Receive a certificate of completion
- Be immediately eligible to sit for the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) examination to achieve the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) designation.
What are the required courses and what is the suggested schedule? How long does the program take to complete? Where are the clinical classes held?
- Download the Required Courses listing. It includes a sample schedule (pdf, rev 2/14).
- The complete program is available only at the Harrisburg Campus. HACC offers other required courses at other campuses and sites.
What are the program clinical admission criteria and how do I apply for clinicals?
- Admission to HACC does not guarantee admission to the clinical component of the program. You begin as a pre-clinical student and work closely with your advisor to prepare to apply to the clinical/core component.
- Download the Admission Criteria, Point System and Essential Qualifications (pdf). (Includes shadowing form)
- The clinical application is available online using SurveyMonkey during spring semester. The Fall 2018 clinical application deadline is May 1, 2018. Check back in early 2018 for the link.
- Pre dental assisting students are required to meet with Dawn Clifford, the Program Director. Call (717) 221-1731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your appointment.
Is the program accredited?
The Dental Assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
800.621.8099 or 312.440.4653
Can I advance my education in this field?
This program leads directly to an occupation.
- You will be eligible to continue for another six credits in Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA).
- You may earn 30 credits towards an Associate Degree in Health Science if you:
- earn national CDA certification
- are employed in the dental assisting field
What is the most current program effectiveness data?
- Updated March 2, 2017
- Five-year program completion rate —86%
- Program performance on national board exams (five-year data 2011-2016):
- Radiation Health Safety —97%
- Infection Control —83%
- General Chairside Assisting —97%
- 2016 national board exam data
- Radiation Health Safety - 95%
- Infection Control - 100%
- General Chairside - 100%
How can I get more information?
- View a dental assisting career video (2 min. excerpt) from ADA website.
- Visit Career InfoNet for salary and job outlook stats, career video and licensing requirements.
- Visit the American Dental Association.
- View the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Who can I contact for more information?
Dental Assisting Program Office:
Select Medical Health Education Pavilion (SMHEP), Room 104
HACC - Harrisburg Campus
One HACC Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17110