Community Dental Assisting

How would you like a career in a growing field, with above-average pay and a bounty of full-time work opportunities? The best part, you can be in-and-out in just three terms with the potential to earn over $18 per hour.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 65,000 more dental assistants will be needed by 2026, up from the 332,000 who were employed in 2016. The profession’s 25% growth rate tops averages for other occupations, and research linking dental health to overall health ensures an increase in demand for dental services in the future.

PCC's Integrated Community Dental Assisting program offers a strong foundation that enables quick entry into this high-demand profession after only three terms. In this program, we teach you the skills you need to succeed, and we give you the field experience, the contacts, and sufficient time to learn the most important techniques. In just nine months, you can begin a rewarding career in which you serve the oral healthcare of thousands of people.

3 terms, 9 months to complete
Didactic work all online, Labs held every Saturday. Externship in Dental office once a week 1st term, and two days a week 2nd & 3rd term.

$7,829 excluding books, exam fees, and student kit. Tuition is due at the time of registration, or students may set up a 3-month payment plan with the Portland Community College Business Office. For Information about the payment plan, please visit the PCC Payment Plan webpage.

Oregon Requirements and Certificates
To work as a dental assistant in Oregon, graduates must take the Radiation Health and Safety exam and demonstrate the ability to take dental radiographs. Graduates who take further testing to become certified dental assistants are also eligible for Oregon Expanded Function Assisting (EFDA) endorsement. Students in the Integrated Community Dental Assisting program will follow DANB’s Pathway III.

Pathway III:

  1. Hold an Oregon Certificate of Radiologic Proficiency AND
  2. Pass the Oregon Basic Dental Assisting exam (ORB), AND
  3. Pass the Oregon Expanded Functions – General Dental Assisting exam (ORXG), AND
  4. Provide endorsement from an Oregon licensed dentist stating that the applicant has completed clinical requirements, AND
  5. Apply for the Oregon EFDA certificate (administered by DANB).

What skills will I use on the job?
The dental assistant is an important member of the dental team, assisting the dentist in providing both technical skills and communication, sometimes working independently in serving dental patients. Basic office management skills as well as clinical laboratory skills are the dental assistant’s responsibility. The dental assistant may work with dental radiographs, mix dental materials, organize treatment rooms, pass dental instruments, prepare, place and remove rubber dams, place topical anesthetics, sealants and fluorides, among other duties. Specific tasks will depend upon state regulations and the needs of your office. Duties may include: handling water, air and suction devices, mixing dental cements, bases and impression materials, taking and developing X-rays, recording medical and dental histories, maintaining order and sterilizing instruments, making study models of patients’ teeth, providing oral hygiene instructions, making dental appointments and answering the telephone.

Employment Trends
Certified Expanded Functions Dental Assistants (EFDA) are in high demand. Dental assistants are hired by private dental offices and large dental clinics.

Quick Glance
Employment (2016) - 332,000 employees
Projected Growth (2016-2026) - 15% or higher
Project Job Openings (2016-2026) - 65,000

How much can I earn?
Approximate salary $33,000 - $42,000 annually
Media wages (2017) were $18.09 hourly, $37,630 annually 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017 wage data  and 2016-2026 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2016-2026). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

Application Checklist
Find more information about the application process, including a downloadable application packet at:

  • Supplemental Essay (Please include a one page, double-spaced, typed response to the following: Describe any special skills, work experience or training that you have which might be helpful to you in the program. Explain how you heard about this program and why you are applying.)
  • Highschool Diploma or GED
  • Math 20 or equivalent placement score
  • Writing 115 or higher, or placement into Writing 121
  • 8 hours job shadowing of a Dental Assistant in a Dental office or clinic
  • Copy of current healthcare provider CPR Certification (Class must include Adult, Child, Infant CPR and Use of Defibrillator)
  • Evidence of completion of Hepatitis B Vaccination Series (or signed declination form)
  • Measles Mumps Rubella and Chickenpox vaccination (or history of past disease)
  • Current Tetanus (within last 10 years)
  • Current Tuberculin skin test (within last year).

For more information contact Stacy Kimsey