A registered dental assistant (RDA) is a dental assistant that has obtained the educational credentials to practice as a dental assistant within the state. Not all dental assistants are required to become RDA’s, but it is a requirement in many states.
For example, in Texas dental assistant that takes x-rays must register with the State Board of Dental Examiners (SBDE) to legally practice this particular function. In Texas a newly hired dental assistant may make x-rays for the first year of their employment before requiring certification and registration to be allowed to continue making x-rays.
It may be beneficial for many dental assistants to complete the registration process in their state so they can receive licensing to practice as a state registered dental assistant. There are certain duties that a dentist may wish their assistant to perform and being a registered dental assistant will allow you to legally practice them in many states. With these qualifications it makes you a much more valuable candidate to potential employers and increases your value and pay rate.
How to Become a Registered Dental Assistant
The general requirements for becoming a registered dental assistant are mostly the same in each state. You are required to graduate from an American Dental Association (ADA) accredited RDA program to be eligible to take the RDA exam. You will then need to pass the RDA exam and receive your Dental Assistant Registration Certificate from the SBDE in your state to officially be considered a registered dental assistant. Alternatively, you may qualify to take the RDA exam if you have sufficient work experience and have completed certain board approved courses. You will also require your CPR from a board approved instructor to be eligible to take the exam.
The specific RDA requirements are dependent on the state you live in, so be sure to check the dentistry board in your state to find out what is required. You can view the full SBDE list and check for more information on the SBDE website for your state.
Should You Become a Registered Dental Assistant?
If you are looking into a career in dental assisting then it is very important to decide if you are going to become a qualified dental assistant (QDA), registered dental assistant (RDA), or certified dental assistant (CDA). You can become a QDA with vocational training or in-office training if allowed in your state. Many QDA’s do not make a very good salary, especially in states where DANB certifications are recognized. You can become a RDA after completing your educational requirements or work experience and passing your state’s RDA exam. By doing so you stand to make quite a bit more than a QDA would.
If you go the route of becoming a CDA you will be required to meet all eligibility requirements and then pass the CDA exam which is composed of three separate exams. This includes Radiation Health and Safety (RHS), Infection Control (ICE), and General Chairside (GC). The CDA certification is often chosen over RDA certification as it covers a wider range of credentials and allows for legal practice of many expanded functions. CDA’s also stand to make a better salary compared to non-CDA’s, are recognized for their credentials all across the country, and are more desired by dentists looking to hire assistants.
Basically, a RDA will be registered with their state and licensed to practice dental assisting. This puts them in a good position when looking for work as a dental assistant. The RDA may need to seek further certification for licensing to perform certain duties which can have an effect on salary potential. When registered with your state you will also only be recognized as a RDA within your state. This is a major area of concern as a CDA would be recognized nationwide. The CDA stands to make more money than a QDA or RDA would on average. The CDA certification covers many expanded functions and is recognized across the United States as well. Overall it is definitely recommended to become a CDA before (or instead of) becoming an RDA.
Registered Dental Assistant Salary – Do Registered Dental Assistants Make More Money?
A registered dental assistant is registered with their state and licensed to practice dental assisting. This puts them at a better position than non-registered dental assistants when applying for a dental assistant position. According to Payscale.com, an RDA can expect to make $10.89 to $22.97 an hour. The specific registered dental assistant salary will depend on the workplace, functions performed, and experience. This website also states a pay range of between $9.48 and $19.71 an hour for dental assistants that are not registered. This means that on average an RDA makes more money than a non-registered dental assistant.
While a registered dental assistant salary is higher than a typical dental assistant’s salary Certified Dental Assistants with national DANB CDA certification have a higher average salary than both. According to DANB’s 2010 Salary Survey, a CDA makes an average of $18.50 an hour while a non-CDA makes $16.46 an hour. This is a $2.04 an hour difference and even though there are many lower paid CDA’s it still shows that the average salary is higher for CDA’s.
In conclusion, a registered dental assistant will make more money than a qualified dental assistant but becoming a DANB certified dental assistant may be the best option for increasing salary.