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Gain skills to work as a dental assistant in dental offices in as little as 9 months.

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At a Glance

  • Get ready to work in dental offices in as few as 9 months

  • Receive either a Certificate of Achievement or an Associate Degree

  • Offered at 15 location in AZ, CA, ID, NM, NV, OR and WA

  • Prepare for a career as the face of a dental practice

  • Prepare for examination for licensure as a Registered Dental Assistant in some states

  • Affordable tuition varies by location, learn more now

About the Program

What Will I Learn

Students in Carrington College’s Dental Assisting program begin with a broad base of knowledge on subjects ranging from anatomy of the head and mouth to sterilization techniques to front-office operations. Students’ progress to learning specific skills and building their understanding of dental procedures performed in dental offices. As they near the end of their studies, Dental Assisting students complete an externship.

Students pursuing an Associate Degree also complete a broad base of general education course offerings focusing on:

  • English writing and composition
  • Computer literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social sciences

Program Outcomes

Dental assistants provide patient care and chair-side support as dentists complete exams and procedures. Most visibly, people may see dental assistant’s passing instruments, but that’s just the beginning of their technical skills. By the end of Carrington College’s Dental Assistant programs, you’ll be able to: 

  • Assist with dental procedures such as fillings, crowns, and extractions
  • Take & pouring dental impressions (molds of the mouth)
  • Prepare patients for surgery
  • Operate equipment and monitors
  • Talk with patients
  • Perform administrative tasks
  • Prepare examination areas
  • Clean up after procedures
  • Sterilize equipment

Career Opportunities

You’re passionate about helping people with their smiles. That will help you succeed as a dental assistant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for dental assistants will continue to grow. In fact, employment of dental assistants is projected to grow nationally 11% between 2020 and 20301. And there are some reasons for this growth, including:

  • Continue research showing a link between oral health and general health will increase the demand for preventive dental services.
  • Dentists need dental assistants to help with routine tasks, giving the dentist more time to see patients in their practice and focus on more complex procedures.

As baby boomers age, and people keep more of their original teeth than previous generations did, there will be a greater need to maintain and treat teeth, which means an increased need for dental care2.

Student Life at Carrington College

We know college is a big step. But education can be the first step in building a better future. Your instructors, administrators and fellow students are there to help if you ever hit a bump in the road along the way. Carrington College offers a lot of great student support services designed to help you succeed.

Student Finance

From scholarships and grants to loans, we will help you understand how to search and apply for financial aid.3

Tutoring and Study Groups

For help with schoolwork, your instructors and Student Success Center staff are often available for tutoring or you can join in an open student study group.

Externships, Clinical Rotations and Fieldwork

Most programs include an opportunity to learn in the real world before you even graduate! You’ll earn impressive experience that looks great on your resume.

Career Services

After graduation, we’ll help you with your career search with everything from resume writing help to job search support to interview tips.

Program Specific Disclosures


Our dental assistant programs prepare graduates for an occupation in which passage of a California licensing examination is required. The link below shows exam passage rates for the most recent available year. If you have questions regarding the calculation of these rates please contact the agency listed. Dental Board of California

Cost & Financial Aid

Education is a major investment, but it’s an investment in your future. Every student comes to Carrington with unique financial needs. Carrington College is committed to helping you achieve your education goals. We participate in most financial assistance programs, both federal and state, as well as private financing. Each program has different requirements and application instructions. Student loans, grants and scholarships are available to those who qualify.

For complete information on current tuition costs, please see the Academic Catalog

The best way for us to understand your financial needs is to meet in person. Call (602) 492-1086 to set an appointment with our Student Finance Department so we can help you develop your personalized financial plan to achieve your educational goals.

Accreditation and Approvals

Carrington College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC/WASC), 331 J Street, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814; 415- 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at

The Dental Board of California,, approves the Carrington College Dental Assistant programs at the Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Pomona, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro and Stockton campuses. 

For comprehensive information on Carrington’s accreditation and approvals, visit

Read Our Career Guide On Dental Assisting

If you love working with people, helping with complex tasks, and want to get to work in as little as nine months, a career as a dental assistant may be right for you.

Dental Assistant FAQ

What does a dental assistant do?

Based on recent data from the BLS, common dental assistant job duties include:4

  • Ensuring that patients are comfortable in the dental chair
  • Preparing patients and the work area for treatments and procedures
  • Sterilizing dental instruments
  • Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Drying patients’ mouths using suction hoses and other equipment
  • Instructing patients in proper oral hygiene
  • Processing x rays and complete lab tasks, under the direction of a dentist
  • Keeping records of dental treatments
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Working with patients on billing and payment

How long is the dental assistant program?

A Dental Assisting program may take up to two years to complete, depending on whether it’s a certificate, diploma, or degree. However, Carrington College’s Dental Assisting program can be completed in as little as nine months.

What do you need to be a dental assistant?

While some states require dental assistants to graduate from an accredited program or pass a licensing exam, others might not need formal education. But it may be helpful to enroll in a Dental Assisting program for relevant experience and training. Students typically must have a high school diploma or GED to enroll.

What is a dental assistant?

A dental assistant helps dentists and dental hygienists by perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Caring for patients
  • Handling dental records
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Cleaning dental equipment

(See What does a dental assistant do? for more details about their role in a dentist office)

Is it worth being a dental assistant?

Dental assisting can be an exciting career path if you have an interest in oral health care. Ultimately, the decision lies with you on whether a dental assistant certificate is worth it or not. According to records from the BLS, employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 11% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.5 

How much is dental assistant school?

At Carrington College, our tuition differs by the campus location. Learn more about our affordable plans by reading the Carrington College Academic Catalog.

Is a dental assistant a good career?

Dental assisting can be a great choice for those interested in doing a variety of tasks and helping patients with oral care. It’s also a path that offers the potential for career advancement in a stable environment. If all of this sounds good to you, then a Dental Assisting program at Carrington College might be the route to your success.

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  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Assistants, on the Internet at (visited October 05, 2021).  Data reflects a national projected percentage change in employment from 2020-2030 and may not reflect local economic conditions.
  3. Student loans, grants and scholarships are available to those who qualify.