IBMC Articles

Becoming a Dental Assistant: On the Job Training or Career Training?

You may have heard that you don’t need a diploma to start your career in Dental Assisting. While that’s technically true, Dental Assisting is a skilled trade that requires specialized knowledge and experience in order to succeed. Adequate practice with dental instruments, procedures and patient interaction is crucial. You’ll need to learn these skills somewhere—from an accredited career training college, or through on the job training.

Dental Assisting is expected to grow in Colorado by an impressive 18% through 2026, so it’s a great time to start—regardless of the path you choose to become one.

On the Job Training for Dental Assistants

Many prospective Dental Assistants are intrigued by the idea of learning on the job. While on the job training exists, it can be difficult to find. The truth is that most dentists are simply not interested in hiring untrained Dental Assistants—and there are good reasons for that.

Colorado law requires Dental Assistants who work in a setting where sedation, anesthesia or nitrous oxide is administered to provide proof of basic life support (BLS) skills and knowledge. Dental Assistants also need training to operate x-ray equipment and perform radiographic procedures.

This training can be completed on the job under a dentist, or through a program accredited by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. Usually, dentists prefer to hire those who have a diploma from a career training program. That’s because these graduates already have the necessary skills and practical experience needed to succeed.

Benefits of On the Job Training

  • No need for higher education
  • If you can get hired, you can enter the workforce immediately

Drawbacks of On the Job Training

  • Dental offices demand trained Dental Assistants
  • If hired, you will likely be asked to perform additional training outside of work
  • Untrained Dental Assistants lack critical hands-on experience and specialized knowledge
  • You will likely start at a lower wage than a college educated Dental Assistant

Career Training for Dental Assistants

Dentists know the value of a rigorously trained Dental Assistant with a diploma from an accredited career college. From assisting with procedures to simply understanding the way a dental office should flow, trained Dental Assistants are highly valued for their well-rounded competencies. During your time at a career training college, you’ll gain hands-on experience in the clinical setting, practicing all of the skills you’ll be required to perform on the job.

After graduating with a diploma in Dental Assisting and acquiring a position in a dental office, you will also be eligible to enroll in an Expanded Duty Dental Assistant training program. These short-term programs allow Dental Assistants to further expand their skill set and perform tasks more independently in the dental office. Often, employers are willing to pay for their Dental Assistants to complete these programs. This additional training may result in more responsibility and increased pay.

Benefits of Career Training

  • Adequate practice in the clinical setting
  • Confidence in your knowledge and abilities
  • Connections that could land you a job
  • Access to post-graduation career placement programs
  • Opportunities for further education that can lead to higher pay


Drawbacks of Career Training

  • Career training college is a commitment that lasts several months
  • You may need to commute or relocate to attend career training college

Enroll in Dental Assistant Career Training

IBMC College offers a Dental Assisting diploma program at its Fort Collins and Longmont, Colorado campuses. Taught by experienced dental professionals, the career-driven curriculum will teach you how to assist with chairside procedures, interact with and comfort patients, perform equipment sterilizations, take impressions and learn how to effectively operate equipment used in a dental office setting. The program can be completed in as little as 10 months!

It’s easy to get started at IBMC College. Just call (800)-495-2669 to speak with an admissions representative and schedule a campus tour today.

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