Registered Dental Assistant Guide
Do you know what ROP classes are? They are adult education courses that are available in California (CA). The classes that are available will vary from district to district, but, some examples are yoga instruction, video game design, crime scene investigation, nursing, and more. ROP classes are available to both students and adults that live in California and want to prepare for a new career, expand their expertise in their current career, or simply learn something new.
With Regional Occupational Program classes, you can become a certified dental assistant! In a relatively short time, you can begin a career in the dental industry, helping both children and adults transform their smiles. If you are interested in a truly rewarding career where you help improve the smiles and ultimately the confidence of those in your own community, then look no further than a career in the dental field!
There are dental assisting programs within colleges all across the great state of California (CA). You may find that if you want to spend more money and more time simply for an experience that provides more social opportunity, this career may not be for you. Additionally, job placement rates have been better overall with ROP courses because the 2nd half of your program is spent working directly with a dentist in your area. Dentists tend to hire the students they work with as they have spent months learning to anticipate the doctor’s methods and needs. So, while college may seem to be the more globally accepted, Dentists seem to prefer ROP-hailing registered dental assistants!
How Long is the Course and What are the Hours?
When you consider the fact that you would be essentially assisting a dentist who went to school for eight years or more, you would probably expect a course such as this to take several years. You’ll be surprised to find out that it doesn’t even take one year, it only takes 9 months to become a certified dental assistant!
With most ROP classes, you can simply find a class in the category you are interested in learning about and find a day/time that works for your schedule. Alternatively, you can also make a minor adjustment in your schedule one day a week while attending your ROP class. However, with your Registered Dental Assistant course, it is a true investment of time.
While your average ROP classes are only 2 hours long, once per week, dental assistant classes through ROP are 6 ½ hours each day, Monday – Friday. After February, the course begins clinical training which will consist of 9-hour days on average until May when the course concludes. Classes typically run from August to May and will have some varying schedules during clinical (hands-on) training.
What is Involved in the Course?
In the ROP Registered Dental Assistant course, you will learn both theoretical and real-world application of the dental sciences. You will learn about dental radiology (x-rays), pit and fissure sealants, coronal polish, dental instruments/equipment, and of course dental anatomy. Additionally, you will learn CPR as it is required of any medical personnel of any type of medical facility. You will also get clinical training where you will have instruction while working side-by-side with a dentist and their team.
There are many certificates you will receive upon completion of this course. You can expect to receive:
- Certificate of Competency
- California Dental Radiation Safety
- Coronal Polish, Infection Control and Dental Practice Act
- Pit and Fissure Sealants
You will also be automatically eligible for the Registered Dental Assistant Examination in the State of California. Once you pass your exam, you will be available to start your career as a dental assistant in California.
How Much does the Course Cost?
The Registered Dental Assistant program has several fee schedules. The unwavering fee within any district is going to be the Program Fee of $6,650. It includes registration, necessary textbooks, CPR training, supply kit, and scrubs. There are other variable fees you will need to be prepared to cover – up to $641.
While this seems like a very high cost, it is truly a small investment in your career and ultimately your future. The cost of this course, which gets you a foot in the field, is less than a semester at most 4-year colleges. Additionally, if you qualify for financial aid through FAFSA, that can be applied to this course! If you don’t qualify for FAFSA, you can also apply for a student loan to be used for this program.
What are the Requirements to Start this Program?
With most courses that are available through ROP, there are very few requirements or pre-requisites for you to get started. However, because you will be working with people (specifically their mouths) – both you and the patient have to be protected from blood-borne pathogens. You will need TB clearance and Hepatitis B immunization – due by the first day of class.
Other pre-requisites to begin the application process include:
- High School Diploma or GED
- At least 18 years of age
- Able to read at a 10th grade level
- General computer skills
If you meet all of the pre-requisite requirements, you can begin the application process. Applications are typically accepted between March and May for classes starting in August. There will also be a mandatory orientation if you intend to attend classes in August, and will also be subject to an interview. Since this is an easy investment for a career with a decent pay-off, these classes are often in high demand. Program investors want to ensure that only candidates who truly want to be there get spots in the program.
Will You Enjoy this Course or Career?
If you are unsure if Registered Dental Assistant courses are the right path for you, you can start by asking yourself these questions:
- Are you ready to invest the time? This program typically runs classes from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm, Monday – Friday for 9 months. You have to be ready to give up fun and spontaneous opportunities to be responsible when you have class early in the morning. If you feel like social opportunities take a precedence over your education, you may not be ready to become a registered dental assistant.
- Are you ready to invest the money? If you don’t qualify for financial aid (or you do, but it doesn’t cover the entire program fee) are you prepared to cover the cost of the program? If you have financial aid covering all or some of the course, ask yourself if you would cover 100% of the program fee if financial aid wasn’t available. If you are hesitating about the cost – this may not be the path for you.
- What do you feel like you would get out of being a registered dental assistant (RDA)? This question may require some soul searching. What is it that you feel like you will gain – ultimately what is your “Why?” Why do you get up every day and go to work (as an RDA)? Why do you work long or odd hours? If you can’t come up with an answer that you will be able to use every day (especially days you don’t want to get up or go to work), then you may need to reconsider your career choice.
If you feel as though these 3 questions have only solidified your interest in becoming a registered dental assistant, your next step could be to take a Medical Occupations ROP course. You will learn the ins and outs of several medical industry careers. You will learn more about the field than you could ever have imagined and that will still only be scratching the surface. If after taking that course you know that the dental field of the medical industry is the right move for you, then your next step is to register!
How Do I Get Started?
If you are a student that is about to graduate high school, schedule an appointment with your ROP representative at your school. They will be able to help you determine your best course of action for getting started in this rewarding career. If you are a student of an alternative high school that is about to graduate, you should speak with your careers counselor or visit your local ROP office. If you are an adult, you should visit your local ROP office to begin the registration and application process.
Since it is such a lengthy application approval process (including an orientation and interview) – it is suggested you get started as early as March, as soon as they start accepting applications. Since there are also immunization requirements that have several steps/phases, it’s best if you can get those out of the way sooner rather than later.
Once you’ve been accepted into the program, you can be starting your dream career and transforming smiles in less than a year!