Skip to content

Dental Assistant Certificate

CC Certificate of Completion
type of award
1 Year
total Credits
Financial Aid Available
Limited Entry
Next Steps

Start your journey!

Apply Now

Want to learn more?

Get Info
On this page

Launch a rewarding career as a dental assistant

Are you ready for a fulfilling career that makes a difference, one smile at a time? The Dental Assistant Certificate program at Clackamas Community College will prepare you with the skills and knowledge to become a dental assistant and join the vital and growing field of dentistry. 

  • Get hands-on training: Experience the professional tools, processes and work environments you will use in your career. Gain confidence in all aspects of dental assisting, from putting patients at ease to working with X-rays in the dental lab.
  • Join a supportive community: Clackamas Community College is known for its welcoming environment and dedicated instructors. Small cohort sizes foster an encouraging learning community where you can thrive. Academic advisors are here to help you, from preparing your application to the program to supporting you through graduation and your career plans.
  • Start your career quickly: You can be ready to join the workforce within a nine-month academic year, minimizing time spent in training and maximizing your earning potential.


  • Applications are currently closed for the 2024-25 dental assistant cohort

    Dates and deadlines for the next application cycle will be announced soon.

    Please review our application and admission process for more information.

Please note that the Dental Certificate program is a limited-entry program. A limited number of students will be accepted into the program. All potential students must also complete a formal application process.

For detailed description and outcomes for this program, view the course catalog.

Required classes for the Dental Assistant Certificate

Job Outlook

The job outlook for dental assistants is bright and growing

High demand, excellent salaries. Dental assistants and dental hygienists are in high demand nationwide, with Oregon projecting strong job growth over the next decade. 

Multiple career paths. Start as a dental assistant and build the foundation for many different roles within dental practices, hospitals, public health clinics and more.

For more information on career opportunities for this program, view the course catalog.

Skills you will gain with a Dental Assistant Certificate

Dental assisting involves a combination of technical and interpersonal skills. The dental assistant program at Clackamas Community College will equip you with the skills you need to excel in this field, including:

  • Capturing dental images: Learn to take, process and mount dental X-rays and digital images, providing crucial information for dentists.
  • Chairside assisting: Gain the hands-on skills to assist dentists during procedures, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience for everyone.
  • Patient care: Develop compassionate communication skills, build rapport with patients and ensure their comfort throughout their visit.
  • Administrative excellence: Learn scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records and handling office tasks efficiently.
  • Safety and emergency preparedness: Develop an understanding of occupational safety, infection control and aseptic procedures and learn how to assist in managing medical emergencies within the dental office. You will be a champion for creating a safe environment for patients and staff.
For more information on expected outcomes of successfully completing this program, view the course catalog.

Investing in your future

Clackamas Community College offers some of the lowest tuition rates in the Portland metro area. Here is a summary of the estimated costs for this program: 

Estimated program costs

College tuition and fees


Program course fees*



$340 (ebooks only) - $624 (ebooks and printed texts) 

Extra supplies and materials

Total costs


*Course fees cover the following items: background check, drug screening, lab supplies, credentialing exams 

Get help paying for college

Scholarships and grants (free money!) are available for students in this program. For help with financial aid and scholarships, contact the Financial Aid Resource Lab

Application and Admissions Process

Applying to the dental assistant program

Ready to get started? Applying to the Dental Assistant Certificate program is a simple 3-step process

We recommend you meet with a health science advisor before applying to the program. Our advisors will help answer prerequisite program requirements.

Tracy Pantano-Rumsey, academic advisor

Phil Reid, academic advisor

Upcoming dates and deadlines


  • Jul 20

    Notification of application status

    Applicants for the 2024-25 cohort will will be notified of their status by Saturday, July 20, 2024. 
  • Aug 7

    Mandatory orientation for conditionally accepted students

    The mandatory orientation for conditionally accepted students will be held Aug. 7, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

What are the application criteria?

The Dental Assistant Certificate application requires prospective students to answer two essay questions. The applications are “de-identified” before reviewing and scoring the essays to reduce bias. It is recommended you meet with one of the health sciences academic advisors before completing your application. A dental assistant job shadow is recommended, but not required.

Essay 1: (250 words or less) What are your goals for completing the dental assistant (DA) program?

Note: We are asking this question because we want to train students who are motivated to become dental assistants and ready to invest the time and effort required to be successful in the DA program.

Essay 1 Content





Candidates expresses job and/or professional goals for completing the DA program.

Response provides a clear, strong and detailed statement about the candidate's goals for completing the DA program.

Response provides a clear statement of the candidate's goals for completing the DA program.

Response shows an opportunity for the candidate to think deeply about their future job and professional goals.

Essay 2: (250 words or less) Describe in detail a work or training experience in which you used problem-solving or critical thinking skills. What did you learn?

Note: We are asking this question because students in the DA program need to use critical thinking skills to be successful.

Essay 2 Content





The candidate describes an experience where problem-solving/critical thinking skills were used in a work or training experience.

Response provides a clear, strong and detailed statement about a situation when problem-solving or critical thinking skills were used in a work or training experience.

Response provides a clear statement about a situation when problem-solving or critical thinking skills were used in a work or training experience.

Response shows an opportunity for the candidate to reflect on a time when they used problem-solving or critical thinking skills in a work or training experience.





The candidate can recall and write about what they learned from the experience.

Response provides a clear, strong and detailed statement about what they learned from the work or training experience.

Response provides a clear statement about what they learned from the work or training experience.

Response shows an opportunity for the candidate to reflect on what they learned from the work of training experience.

Printable PDF Advising Guide


Preparation before entering the program ensures success

Students who are formally accepted into the Dental Assistant Certificate program must attend a mandatory orientation. During the orientation, students will start the process of completing all non-academic requirements. 

Please start collecting your vaccine records for the below list of immunizations and if accepted, be prepared to submit documentation during the orientation. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • 18 years of age 
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Immunizations (MMR, Varicella, Tdap, Hep B, COVID-19, flu)
  • Tuberculosis test
  • Criminal background check
  • Drug screen

Note: A criminal background check requires a Social Security number. Students will start the criminal background check process during the orientation and upload vaccine records. 

Students will need to either complete writing and math prerequisite classes or take placement tests before being accepted to the dental assisting program. Please meet with an academic advisor to ensure you have met the requirements to enter the program. To be successful in the program and become employable, the student must also be able to perform the essential functions expected of dental assistants.

Essential functions

The following essential functions are expected of dental assistants and students entering the dental assistant program. Please contact the dental assistant program regarding questions or concerns about these requirements.

Students must have the physical, intellectual and emotional abilities to provide safe patient care; visual acuity, hearing, speech, manual dexterity, physical strength and endurance must be maintained as well. The practice of dental assisting requires the following functional abilities with or without reasonable accommodations: 

  • Visual acuity (clearness of vision)
    • With or without corrective lenses sufficient to assess patients and their own environments.
    • Detect changes in skin color or condition; collect data from recording equipment and measurement devices used in patient care; detect a fire in a patient area and initiate emergency action; read and follow instructions pertaining to dental materials; ability to perform oral procedures involving fine detail, including the use of indirect field of vision.
  • Hearing ability
    • With or without hearing aids to hear a patient’s call for help, to auscultate a patient’s vital signs and their own environment.
    • Detect sounds related to bodily functions using a stethoscope; detect audible alarms within the frequency and volume ranges of sounds generated by mechanical systems that monitor bodily functions; hear clearly during telephone conversations; effectively hear to communicate with patients and other health care team members.
  • Olfactory ability (smells)
    • Detect smoke from burning materials; detect odors from hazardous material spills.
  • Tactile ability (sense of touch)
    • Read and record patient vital signs; detect unsafe temperature levels in heat-producing devices used in patient care; perform intra-oral patient care procedures; detect anatomical abnormalities.
  • Strength and Mobility
    • Ability to lift 25 pounds; prolonged time sitting and/or standing on feet (8-12 hours); repetitive bending and twisting.
  • Ability to speak, comprehend, read and write in English
    • Able to question the patient about their condition; accurately relay information about the patient both verbally and in written communication to others.
  • Fine motor skills (ability to make movements using the small muscles in your hands or wrists)
    • Demonstrate eye/hand coordination; safely dispose of needles in sharps containers; manipulate small equipment and small dental instruments; manipulate dental materials; handle and pass dental instruments; place and move instruments in the oral cavity.
  • Emotional stability to function effectively under stress
    • Ability to adapt to changing situations and to follow through on assigned patient care responsibilities.
  • Cognitive ability (reasoning and/or thinking)
    • Ability to collect, analyze and apply information.
    • Ability to make clinical judgments and manage decisions that promote positive patient outcomes.

ADA accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 (ADA) mandates that reasonable accommodations must be made for individuals with disabilities. Any student who may need an accommodation for a disability should make an appointment with the program director and the Disability Resource Center.

Frequently Asked Questions

Dental assistant program FAQs

What is a dental assistant?

A dental assistant works as part of the dental team to perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks. These tasks include setup for dental treatments, working with the dentist and dental hygienists during treatment, taking dental radiographs, making dental models and much more. 

How competitive is CCC’s dental assistant program?

Admission to CCC’s dental assistant program is limited-entry. There are 24 students per cohort and the process of getting accepted involves completing an application and a mandatory orientation.

What modality is the program delivered in? 

The program is a full-time, closed cohort program offering classes in-person and online. All lab courses are taught in person at the Harmony campus. The program consists of 54 credits delivered over three terms. 

Is the dental assistant program accredited?

The dental assistant program is not nationally accredited but it is approved by the Oregon State Board of Dentistry

I am interested in the program but don’t know how to apply. Who can I talk to?

The dental assistant program is housed under the Health Sciences Department, which is a part of the Health Professions Educational Focus Area. They have two dedicated academic advisors who are knowledgeable in the application process and are available to assist you with any questions related to transfer credits, academic requirements to apply and the application process itself. You can schedule an appointment with an advisor here. Or you can reach out to the advisors via email: 

What additional requirements are needed to join the program? 

The dental assistant program follows the guidelines for Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Requirements for students in clinical practicum (409-030-0110). This includes required and recommended immunizations: Hep B, MMR, Tdap, COVID-19 (recommended) and seasonal flu (recommended). It also includes a required 10-panel drug screening (to be completed after orientation into the program). A complete list of the 10-panel drug screening information can be found here. A tuberculosis screening and criminal background check (to be completed after orientation into the program) are also required. Students must also have a current CPR/BLS certification through the American Heart Association (AHA).  

Upon completing the program, what certifications will I be eligible to receive? 

Students who successfully complete the dental assistant program will graduate with the following certifications: 

I am an employer looking to hire a recent graduate of the program. Does CCC have a job board for students and alumni?

Yes, thank you for reaching out with employment opportunities for our students. Please find a job board to post job notices for students and alumni here: You will have to sign up as an employer and complete the posting, but this will share your job with a wider audience.

Take the first step in your dental career

Review all information provided here on this webpage before completing the application.

Meet with a Health Sciences program academic advisor prior to completing the program application.


Answer all of the questions on the application including the essays (see pages 3 and 4 of the advising guide) and submit the application form. You will type your responses for the two essay questions directly into the application. See the scoring rubric in the Dental Assistant Advising Guide (PDF) or in the Application and Admissions Process section above for more details.

The application for fall term, 2024 closed July 1, 2024. Upcoming dates and deadlines will be announced soon.

Learn more about becoming a dental assistant

In this video, learn from participants in Clackamas Community College's career exploration program about their introduction to the field of dental assisting.

Ready to get started?

Are you ready to get started?

Let's find your path at CCC.

Get Started Schedule of Classes

When does the next term start?

Find your start date! View our academic calendar.

Academic Calendar 

How can I pay for college?

Invest in your future. Learn about financial aid options and manage costs.

Financial Aid + Scholarships

Tuition and Fees

Not sure what to study?

Discover your path! Explore our wide range of degrees and certificates.

Browse Degrees + Certificates
Ready to Get Started?