Climb the Career Ladder with DANB Certification

Karla Segovia, CDA, was always interested in dentistry. In fact, she began working in a dental office after graduating high school. However, after a few years, she began looking for a new challenge and found a dental assisting position at a children’s medical center. One of the job’s requirements was earning certification from the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB). “Because we’re dealing with children and seeing severe cases, being DANB certified is required for all dental assistants,” Segovia says. “My job was dependent on earning DANB certification.”

Segovia, who has been DANB certified since 2009, is one of many dental assistants who used DANB certification to advance her career.

When Allison Turgyan, CDA, decided to pursue a dental assisting career, she wanted to be sure she could work in a variety of offices and perform a range of functions. After Turgyan completed a dental assisting program and earned DANB certification, she landed a job right away.

“When I started out, I lived in New Jersey where DANB certification allowed me to perform additional duties,” she says. “Because of my certification and licensure, I have been able to work with many different specialties and perform additional functions.”

Whether you are a new or experienced dental assistant, it’s important to know how to reach the next rung on the career ladder. There are about 40 different job titles for dental assistants in the United States, and every state has its own requirements.

So, how can you take the next step in your career? “I recommend that dental assistants take advantage of every opportunity for professional advancement,” Segovia says. “It is a way to enhance your career and move up in your job.”

Taking a national DANB exam is a great place to start. DANB offers certificates of competency in Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) and Infection Control (ICE). There are no requirements to take DANB’s RHS and ICE exams, which is ideal for dental assistants who are new to the field. DANB’s RHS exam is recognized or required in 20 states and the District of Columbia to expose radiographs. While most states do not have specific exam requirements to meet infection control standards, DANB’s ICE exam meets infection control requirements in Iowa, New York, North Dakota, and Texas.

Earning DANB certification is the next step and provides foundation for career growth. Most states recognize or require DANB certification to take radiographs or perform expanded duties.

DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification is recognized or required in 29 states. In addition to personal pride and peer recognition, DANB CDAs report benefits such as higher salaries, paid vacation, and continuing education reimbursement. “I have been a dental assistant for 24 years, and realize how glad I am that I made the decision to become a CDA,” says Kelly Williams, CDA.

DANB’s CDA exam is recognized or required in 25 states to perform expanded functions, and 11 states recognize DANB's CDA exam as one way or the only way to become qualified to expose dental radiographs. DANB’s CDA exam is made of three component exams: General Chairside Assisting (GC), RHS, and ICE. Dental assistants have five years to pass all three exams to earn CDA certification.

DANB’s Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) certification is recognized or required in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon. DANB’s COA exam is made up of two component exams: Orthodontic Assisting (OA) and ICE. Dental assistants have five years to pass both exams to earn certification. “COAs rock,” Jeanine Smith, COA, says. “I’m so proud that our office staff holds DANB certifications.”

States that delegate separate orthodontic functions to dental assistants include California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oregon. New Jersey includes both general dental assisting duties and orthodontic assisting duties in its delegable task list, and recognizes both DANB CDA and COA certifications as meeting state requirements.

DANB’s Certified Preventive Dental Assistant (CPDA) certification launched in April 2011. If you’re looking to demonstrate your knowledge in preventive functions, consider earning CPDA certification, which includes component exams in Coronal Polish, Sealants, Topical Fluoride, and Topical Anesthetic. “I felt excited, thrilled, and honored to earn CPDA certification. It is a great asset to my career as a dental assistant,” Kelly Ober, CDA, CPDA, says.

Arizona and New Mexico require dental assistants who wish to perform coronal polishing procedures to pass DANB’s Coronal Polish exam. Additionally, Ohio recognizes DANB's Coronal Polish exam as one way to meet requirements to perform coronal polishing. Dental assistants in New Mexico must pass DANB’s Sealants and Topical Fluoride exams to perform these functions.

In the next couple years, DANB will introduce two new certification programs to give dental assistants even more opportunities on the career ladder. DANB plans to introduce an entry-level dental assisting credential in 2012 and a restorative functions certification exam in 2013.

These new programs are being developed to support dental assistants and the profession, and to fulfill DANB’s mission of public protection. More information about these programs will be available on DANB’s website and in DANB’s Certified Press newsletter in the months to come.

To learn more about DANB certification or to look up your state’s dental assisting requirements, visit www.danb.org.

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