How to Become a Dental Assistant in Northport Alabama
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Northport AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the dental assistant school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant in Northport AL
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Northport AL dental practice and can perform a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. However most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Training Options near Northport AL
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. As previously mentioned, the most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in Alabama community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Northport AL dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Training Programs
Choosing an online dental assistant program might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Northport AL area programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Northport AL often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make certain that the Northport AL school you select offers the program that you want. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Northport AL area school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Northport AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Northport AL area colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Northport AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near your Northport AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Northport AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Northport Alabama that you may find helpful.
Northport is a city in Tuscaloosa County in the west central part of the State of Alabama. Located on the Black Warrior River across from downtown Tuscaloosa, it is currently the 21st largest city in Alabama with an estimated population of 24,497 in 2013. It incorporated in 1871. It is part of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As Northport is adjacent to the larger city of Tuscaloosa, many residents work in Tuscaloosa or other parts of Tuscaloosa County. Although the two cities share a land boundary, much of their boundary (and historically all of the boundary) is the Black Warrior River.
As of the census of 2000, there were 19,435 people, 7,844 households, and 5,255 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.3 people per square mile (512.9/km²). There were 8,509 housing units at an average density of 581.6 per square mile (224.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.11% White, 26.03% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Find the Right Dental Assistant Program near Northport AL
Picking the right dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require roughly one year of study prior to entering the work force. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Northport AL.
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