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How to Become a Dental Assistant in California

Dental Assisting Job Titles

  • Unlicensed Dental Assistant
  • Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)
  • Registered Dental Assistant in Extended Functions (RDAEF)
  • Orthodontic Assistant (OA)
  • Dental Sedation Assistant

Education, Certification, & Training Required For Basic Supportive Dental Procedures
Unlicensed Dental Assistant
Unlicensed Dental assistants in California can perform basic supportive dental procedures under the supervision of a licensed dentist provided that the unlicensed dental assistant:

Additionally, unlicensed dental assistants who maintain continuous employment for more than 120 days consecutively must prove the following within 1 year of their initial date of employment:

  • Completion of a California state board approved course
  • Completion of a california state board approved infection control course
  • Completion of a BLS course approved by the AHA or ARC. The BLS course must include hands on simulation.
  • Current BLS certification

Registered Dental Assistant Requirements
Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)
In order to be recognized as a Registered dental assistants (RDA), dental assistants in the state of California must:

  • Complete a California state board approved Registered Dental Assistant program OR 15 months of dental assistant work experience
  • Complete a course in basic life support (BLS) approved by the ARC or AHA
  • Complete California state board approved radiation safety and coronal polishing courses
  • Complete California state board approved courses mandated by the California Dental Practice Act within 5 years of applying for RDA licensing.
  • Pass California state exams (written + practical)
  • Pass California state ethics exam
  • Apply to the state board for licensure

Radiography Requirements
Dental assistants in the state of California must hold Registered Dental Assistant certification and hold a board approved certificate in radiology in order to legally perform dental radiographic procedures and operate x-ray equipment. In order to obtain an California board approved certificate in radiology, the dental assistant must:

  • Complete a state board approved radiation safety course OR Pass a state board approved radiation safety exam (only if before Jan 1, 1985)
  • Submit copy of the certification upon successful completion to the state board.

Dental Assistant Salary in California

Lowest Salary $23,990
Median Salary $35,590
Highest Salary $52,260
Average Salary $36,660

Dental Assistant Salary in Major Cities

Bakersfield, CA
Lowest Salary $18,550
Median Salary $26,980
Highest Salary $46,050
Average Salary $29,210

Los Angeles, CA
Lowest Salary $23,270
Median Salary $33,860
Highest Salary $48,130
Average Salary $35,050

Sacramento, CA
Lowest Salary $26,400
Median Salary $36,000
Highest Salary $50,440
Average Salary $37,060

San Diego, CA
Lowest Salary $25,320
Median Salary $36,780
Highest Salary $51,540
Average Salary $37,480

San Francisco, CA
Lowest Salary $31,240
Median Salary $49,680
Highest Salary $60,000
Average Salary $47,280

* Figures based on 2012 data courtesy of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Become A Dental Assistant