Dental assistants are an essential part of the dental healthcare team. They take x-rays of patients' teeth, schedule appointments, assist with chairside procedures, and can even take impressions and apply fluoride. Dental assistants earn a decent salary and are in high demand.
But can you become a dental assistant without experience, certification, or going to school?
Depending on where you live, you can become a dental assistant without experience, certification, or schooling, but you may have to work hard to improve your resume and become a competitive applicant.
This guide will cover where you can work as a dental assistant without experience or certification, how to become a dental assistant without those, what to include on your resume, and more.
Where You Can Work as a Dental Assistant Without Experience, Certification, or Going to School
Each state has different requirements for dental assistants. Some states allow you to become a dental assistant without any special training or certification, while others require training, certification, a background check, and/or an application for licensure.
Most states require dental assistants to complete radiation safety training at the very least. Some states have their own training, but almost every state accepts the DANB radiation safety certification.
States that do not require any kind of certification or training for dental assistants include:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
Dental assistants in these states must be supervised by a licensed dentist at all times.
How to Become a Dental Assistanto With No Experience, Certification, or Going to School
You do not have to give up on your goal of becoming a dental assistant just because you don’t have experience, certification, or special training. However, there are a few things like obtaining a high school diploma and having a good interview that are essential for landing a dental assisting job.
1) Obtain your High School Diploma or GED
All states require that dental assistants obtain their high school diploma or GED before they begin working. If you have not graduated high school, you may be able to work with a National Entry Level Dental Assistant Certificate until you graduate.
If you need to obtain a GED, you can take the GED exam with an online proctor from the comfort of your home. Most people are able to prepare for their GED exam within just a few weeks.
2) Register With Your State Dentistry Board (If Required)
Some states require you to register with the state dentistry board even if you do not have to pass a certification exam or receive special training.
States that require dental assistants to register with their state board include:
- New Jersey
- New York
3) Look for Jobs
Looking for jobs can feel overwhelming, but sites like Indeed and LinkedIn can help you narrow down your options. When you look for jobs, consider commute, working hours, pay, and company environment.
Fortunately, dental assistants are in high demand and have a better-than-average job outlook. This means that it should be relatively easy to find job openings in an area near you.
Be sure to read the dental assistant job description to make sure you meet any requirements for the role.
4) Build Your Resume
Building a resume starts with a good format and outline. Create a resume that is easy to read and is not cluttered with too much information.
Make sure you have your name and contact information in an easy-to-find location and that you choose a professional-looking font.
Have a few people look over your resume before you submit it. Having a second set of eyes look over your resume will help you identify any typos or other errors.
5) Apply for Jobs
When you apply for jobs, look specifically for roles with “on-the-job training” or “no experience required” in the job title or description. Applying for these types of jobs ensures that you are focusing on the places you are most qualified for.
If you choose to apply for jobs that don’t specify whether or not they accept inexperienced applicants, make sure that you let your potential employer know that you are willing to put in the extra work you’ll need to make up for your lack of previous experience.
6) Ace the Interview
The best way to improve your interview skills is to practice! If you can practice with someone already working in a dental office, they will be able to ask you practice questions relevant to the job.
During your interview, it is okay to admit past mistakes or a lack of knowledge about something as long as you explain how you learned from those mistakes or how you are willing to learn what you don’t know.
Make sure that you avoid blaming others, complaining about previous jobs or bosses, and asking about things like vacation time and sick days too early in the interview.
Arrive to your interview at least a few minutes early and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. In addition, make sure that you dress your best and treat everyone in the office with respect.
7) Start Working!
Remember, that you still want to put your best foot forward after you get hired. Be sure to pay close attention to what you are learning, ask lots of questions, be kind and respectful, and do your best.
What to Put on Your Dental Assistant Resume if You Have No Experience
Everyone has to start their career somewhere. Many employers are willing to give inexperienced job candidates a chance, as long as their resume is strong in other areas.
You may have to get creative, but there are many non-work-related accomplishments and experiences that can be used to build up your resume.
Here are some things to put on your dental assistant resume if you don’t have any experience:
- Service. Service projects show that you are willing to help others, work hard, and can function as part of a team. It is easy to find service opportunities to make a difference in your community and have something to add to your resume.
- Good grades. If you have good grades, it is a good idea to mention it as part of your education. Any other scholarly accomplishments like making the honor roll should be added to your resume as well.
- Leadership. If you have ever been a team captain, on student council, or even just led a group project, mention it on your resume.
- Soft skills. If you do not have work experience or skills typically required to work as a dental assistant, it is okay to list out your soft skills on your resume. This can include things like good time management, being a fast learner, team player, organization, and good people skills.
- Athletics. Being part of an athletic team or sport shows discipline and hard work. Even if your team didn’t win any big championships or awards, demonstrating that you were able to maintain your position on an athletic team is something that can be mentioned on a resume.
- Club participation. Participation in school clubs or outside activities can also help you fill in your resume. This is especially true if you had special responsibilities as part of the club like president, secretary, or treasurer.