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Are you someone who aspires to join the dental field?

Providing care to people, having exciting opportunities every day, and while earning a good living?

As a Certified Dental Assistant, this could be your life…without having to spend years in medical school.

Dental Assistants enjoy the flexibility of choosing to work across many settings, from smaller private practices to hospitals and clinics.

And according to recent data from the BLS, demand for these professionals is only set to increase in the coming years.

With potentially thousands of people out there seeking an exciting and rewarding career as a dental assistant, how can YOU help yourself to stand out from the crowd? By getting certified as a Dental Assistant!

Read more: Dental Assistant Duties

When it comes to investing your time and money into getting a DA certification, it is important to go to the very best school to receive your training.

In this article, we have put together a list of some of the best dental assistant online schools out there for training, in addition to our selection methodology. Let’s dive straight into it…

Here’s the list of the Best Schools and Online Programs:

Top Pick

Key Highlights

  • 100% Online
  • Lowest Price
  • Accredited University
  • Hands-On Externship Included
  • Fastest Completion
  • Free Laptop
Check Out Preppy's Dental Assistant Program >>

If you’re looking to become a Certified Dental Assistant, Preppy’s training program is one of the best you’ll find out there.

Preppy is a one-of-a-kind training platform, bringing an all-inclusive DA certification program in partnership with the renowned and accredited Auburn University.

Here is why we absolutely love Preppy:

To begin with, Preppy’s Dental Assistant program is comprehensive AND takes less time to complete than others.

You can finish Preppy programs and be certified within 3 to 6 months, while other dental assistant courses take somewhere between 9 months to two years to complete.

Additionally, with speed also comes affordability. Preppy has just one low price that’s a fraction of the cost of typical dental assistant programs out there…so you don’t need student loans or debt.

Preppy’s program is also 100% Online and Self-paced

Online programs are better suited for busy adults.  Other certifications out there typically require driving to a conventional classroom setting every week…that’s unfortunately just not possible for working adults with so many commitments all around.

Preppy changes that.

Moreover, Preppy also includes an Externship opportunity. Upon finishing their online training, students are placed with a local dental clinic or healthcare organization for hands-on experience and real-world training.  You can put this on your resume and could help you stand out from other candidates when setting out to look for jobs.

On top of all this, the best thing to appreciate about Preppy training courses is that these are offered through Auburn University which is not only an accredited institution but also world-famous for its brilliant programs and curriculum. This is something to consider as many training programs out there are not accredited.

Preppy programs also come with “all-inclusive” tuition, with all the textbooks and learning materials included in the costs. Students even get a free laptop with Preppy courses. We have not heard of this happening anywhere else in the industry and makes for one of those reasons why we believe Preppy is a unique and exciting opportunity.

Are we biased? 100% yes.

Being in the industry for so long and having seen many unsuccessful training programs, we are happy that there is finally a platform that ticks all the right boxes.

Yes, that’s Preppy!

>>Learn more about Preppy’s program here!

For more on this innovative program, click the button to get all the details below:

San Joaquin Valley College

Key Highlights

  • No Online Classes
  • Longer Time to Completion (11 months)
  • Accredited School
  • Higher Tuition Cost
  • Financial Aid Available
  • Thorough Curriculum

SJVC is a private, For-Profit College that was founded 1977 by Robert and Shirley Perry.  They offer bachelor’s, associate, as well as certification programs across business, medical and technical fields in 17 locations across California. Programs are offered for professional development, through rigorous academic and hands-on training.

The college is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

The dental assistant program at San Joaquin Valley College is a comprehensive program, combining training in patient care with operational duties. The program covers fundamentals of dental anatomy and radiology along with basic dental assisting skills such as patient management and working with dental software.

The programs also offer financial aid options and scholarships to help with affording the cost. At the end of the programs, students also find themselves eligible and qualified to sit for the state licensure exam.

What we don’t like:

The program is long and takes as much as 11 months to finish.  It has one of the higher costs on the list, and there are no online lessons. Finally, the program is only offered at 5 of the 11 SJVC campuses.

National Career College

Key Highlights

  • No Online Classes
  • Accredited School
  • Evening Classes
  • Longer Time to Completion (40 weeks)
  • Higher Tuition Cost
  • Thorough Curriculum

Located in California, NCC is a private post-secondary school offering training programs. It started in the year 2005 as a specialized dental training institute but has grown into a school offering professional development programs in the larger medical and business field as well. The school is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

In NCC’s on-campus Dental Assistant training program, we like that students learn about basic dental assistant duties such as handling equipment and preparing for dental procedures. These include Dental Anatomy and Orthodontics, radiography, dental health, and more. Students are also trained for the administrative and managerial side of things.

Dental assistant training at NCC is offered through in-person morning and night classes.

Some Cons:

The DA program is offered through on-campus lessons, only.

It is also a bit lengthy as a 40 week (9 month) long program and has a higher tuition cost.

American Career College

Key Highlights

  • Accredited School
  • Must Attend Live Classes Weekly
  • Externship Included
  • Thorough Curriculum
  • Higher Tuition Cost

ACC is a private, for-profit vocational training institute that was founded in 1978. The college was founded with the aim of preparing students and professionals for advancement in their healthcare careers.

We like that ACC’s dental assistant program brings together learning with practical experience. It trains students in duties related to the profession, from quality patient care to operational duties such as handling equipment and x-ray processing. The coursework also includes Coronal Polishing and procedures for crowns/molding.

The training program is offered in a blended learning format, with online lessons included. The college has received accreditation and approvals from multiple organizations for its offerings.

A Few Things We Don’t Like:

Students have to attend lessons 2 days a week, compromising the convenience of online learning. The cost of education is higher than we like, at roughly $17,000, along with additional costs for the learning materials. The program also takes longer to complete than some of the others on the list.

What Makes a Good Dental Assistant School?

As we mentioned before, according to the BLS, the demand for dental assistants is expected to only grow in the coming years.

So, those with a passion for joining the healthcare industry, working at a rewarding job that also pays well, should consider becoming a certified dental assistant.

Now, how do you go about choosing the right school for dental assisting training?

We can help you decide how to select the best school for your needs by explaining what we look for in the schools and programs and how we rank them. Our choice of school will have one or more of the following:

Online Classes

The criterion we consider the most important is online lessons. This is because online Dental Assistant programs help adult learners and professionals continue their studies without letting go of their work commitments.

With the ease of taking classes during the time of the day most convenient, these adults can advance in their careers and get to earn more. Online learning also eliminates the issue of having to move states to attend the college most suited for their needs.

That’s why we always recommend looking for dental assisting programs that are 100% online.

Thorough Curriculum

Even though online, we like to make sure that the programs we choose have solid coursework. Having an extensive curriculum that comes with rigorous training in dental care and one that will help you stand out from other candidates.

Self-Paced Coursework

Programs that allow students to take studies at their own pace have a higher standing for us. This is because we believe that each student has their own way of learning and it will take each one us a different time investment to move along the program. Some of us are good with some concepts but not with others.

With self-paced coursework, students can give more time to material they find either difficult or more aligned with their professional goals. This ensures a higher chance of retaining information and a higher success rate with their training.

All-Inclusive Tuitions

We prefer programs that come with all-inclusive costs – this means the tuition costs should include textbooks and any other learning materials. For students, it can sour their experience if they are asked to pay some extra money for textbooks. And just to keep you updated, textbooks now cost a lot!

A Fun Learning Experience

We want to make sure that the programs of our choice are engaging and challenging. Learning does not have to be boring.

Solid Support

When students are starting out in a new course, they often need support. With an online learning format, the need for support is usually higher. There is a need for technical support but also a need for one-to-one mentorship.


DA Certifications are a really good option when it comes to boosting your chances in front of potential employers. But what makes it even better is having that invaluable hands-on real-world training experience.

For this reason, we believe externships in a dental practice or medical setting make the training experience even better. Hence it is one of the criteria when choosing the school. Since not every program offers this, we highly recommend looking for those that do.

The Importance of Dental Assistant Programs for Training

As per the stats by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for dental assistants looks positive. Employment is expected to grow up to 8 percent from 2021 to 2031, with approximately, 56,400 job openings on average, across the country. This growth is much faster than for most other occupations.

Another thing we’d like to bring to your attention is that starting with a certification for becoming a dental assistant is a good way to see if it’s even the right profession for you. Every year, many people enter the healthcare industry, hoping to work as qualified dentists because of the many perks and benefits that come with it. This involves a whole lot of money as well as many years of time investment. Dental certification exams are also not easy to clear.

And even after all this, and years of working as a dentist, these people come out realizing it’s not something they would like to do all their lives.

But working as a dental assistant gives you that important peek into what the work and the healthcare industry look like and whether the job is a good fit for you. Trained as a dental assistant and working on the job, you will be able to do this without having spent years of your life spending all that much money.

Our Methodology

So far, we have covered quite a lot and just so you don’t miss anything, let’s go over everything once more …

Initially, when we came up with the idea to put together this article, we decided to put some time into researching these dental assisting certification programs out there and we can say for sure, that not all of these programs were created equal.

When selecting schools for this list, the criteria we considered are the following:

  • Online programs vs traditional campus
  • Non-profit vs for-profit
  • Faster duration
  • Comprehensive preparation for certification exams
  • Self-paced learning
  • Textbooks and other learning materials included in the cost
  • Instructor-led
  • Support
  • Externships to gain valuable experience

If you’re interested in a rewarding and lucrative career as a  dental assistant, you could become certified and begin working in as little as 3-6 months by completing training through one of these fantastic schools!

What a great opportunity to work in an exciting industry!

About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.