How Much Does it Cost to Become a Dental Assistant? — MedCerts

Are you interested in going back to school but scared to look at the price tag?

It may not be as expensive as you think.

Online schools have reduced the cost of education for programs like dental assisting, while still providing a quality education. Plus, dental assistant school online is one of the most convenient ways to land a career in an ever-growing field.

Due to consistent research linking general health to oral health, dental assisting is a high-demand job that’s expected to grow by 19% through 2026. Thanks to the demand, dental assisting is one of the top 25 fastest growing jobs in America.

So, how much does it cost to become a dental assistant?

It depends on your goals, program, and what you want to do in the dental field. Read on to learn more.

How Much is Dental Assistant School?

There's a variety of schools and education paths you can take to become a dental assistant. Whether you get a certificate or an Associate's degree, each one has its own benefits depending on what you're looking for in your program.

Some states allow dental assistants to work without any special training. Regulations vary state by state, as do program costs for dental assisting programs.

As for length? Most certificate programs are as short as 20 weeks, and degree programs take at least two years.

Dental assistant certifications can cost as little as $3,000 while degrees can run as high as $13,000. Depending on your state, you may also be required to pass extra Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exams, which is another cost to factor in if it’s not included with your school fees.

The difference between a certificate vs. a degree:


  • Shorter length
  • Less expensive
  • Strictly dental assistant coursework
  • Offered online and at community colleges

Who should get a certificate? This program works well for students looking to get into dental assisting ASAP.

Associate’s degree

  • Longer program
  • More expensive
  • General education included
  • Offered online, at community colleges & universities

Who should get a degree? If you love school, then this is a great option for an extended learning session. Degrees offer a more in-depth learning experience for those looking to go on to dental hygienist school.

Should I be Certified?

It depends on your state. Earning a DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certificate boosts your career and your earning potential. According to DANB’s Salary Survey:

  • Dental assistants earn almost $2 more per hour than non-certified dental assistants
  • CDA certificants get extra benefits including free dental care, paid holidays and vacation, 401(k) or pension plans, and more
  • Certified dental assistants reported higher career satisfaction and planned to renew their certifications

Dental Assistant Program Costs

Aside from tuition and fees, you may have other costs associated with becoming a dental assistant.

Other fees to consider include:

  • Uniforms
  • Labs
  • Exams
  • Books
  • Supplies
  • Background checks
  • Room and board (if on campus)

Your total cost may increase due to state-specific licensing requirements. Ask your education counselor or academic advisor prior to enrollment about total costs and financial aid options.

Look for Quality in a Dental Assistant School

No matter which program you pick, choose the one that works best for you — whether that’s online or on campus. In one of the fastest-growing job fields, getting additional education will help you stand out among dental assistant applicants.

Once you complete your program, there's always room for more growth. In the future, you can always go back to school to become a dental hygienist or even a dentist if making people smile brighter becomes your full-time passion.

Learn more about the MedCerts online dental assisting program here.

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They’ll answer all your questions about the tuition, our programs, and enrollment process.

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Written by MedCerts Team
Published on June 28, 2019