California Dental Assistant Schools and Salary Guide

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If you ever thought about working in a healthcare field that does not require years of schooling, becoming a dental assistant may be your chance.

You might need additional schooling even after being hired if you want to perform advanced duties.

However, you can at least you can start working in less than a year.

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Get information on Dental Assistant programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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Licensing Requirements to Become a California Dental Assistant

An Unlicensed Dental Assistant must work under the supervision of a dentist.

This position requires at least eight hours of infection control training, and all trainees must take Basic Life Support training provided by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

Additional requirements apply, such as the need for a two-hour course approved by the California Board of Dentistry.

Students who want to become Registered Dental assistants (RDA) should take postsecondary training that would prepare them for California State Registered Dental Assistant Examination.

These schools must have an affiliation with the American Dental Association Commission on Accreditation and the Dental Board of California.

5 Dental Assistant Schools in California

1. Citrus College

Citrus College Logo

The 31-credit Citrus College Certificate in Dental Assisting program covers topics such as chairside assisting, oral health care, and dental anatomy.

When enrolled in this coursework, you also become familiar with the dental materials used in restoring or repairing teeth and gum issues.

Additionally, you will understand the importance of infection control and how to properly sterilize all dental instruments.

Moreover, you will receive some radiology training and learn how to handle multiple patients.

One aspect of dental care you would need to know includes keeping them calm while preparing them for root canals, tooth extractions, and cleanings or cavity fillings.

To enhance your learning experience, you will receive the chance to participate in hands-on learning, which will also prepare you for certification exams.

2. Chaffey College

Chaffey College Logo

Your one-semester training at Chaffey College will teach you how to sterilize equipment and keep dental areas sanitized to prevent infection.

In addition, you will experience what it is like to work with real patients and a dentistry team.

Beyond this, your instructors will show you how to take and process dental X-rays.

Probably the most important part of your training will be how to prepare patients for routine cleanings, fillings, extractions, or restorative dental procedures.

Your coursework and related hands-on practice will also include knowing what to tell patients concerning their oral hygiene.

You may have to perform basic office duties as a dental assistant, such as scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records, and handling financial transactions.

If working toward an RDA certification, you will also be taught how to take impressions and fabricate temporary crowns, place and remove rubber dams, and apply pit and fissure sealants.

3. City College of San Francisco (CCSF)

City College of San Francisco (CCSF) Logo

You can complete the CCSF Dental Assisting certificate of achievement in one year full-time or two years part-time.

Learn basic dental anatomy and dental charting and become acquainted with required dental materials.

Your training will also teach you proper dental instrument sterilization methods.

In addition, your instructors will show you how to perform dental radiography scans.

To prepare you for handling real patients, you will gain hands-on experience assisting with dental lab and office too.

This school also has a two-year associate degree program, and it prepares you for your California Dental Board exam.

4. Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College Logo

The one-year Orange Coast College Dental Assisting, Registered Certificate of Achievement program will prepare you for work as a certified dental assistant with both classroom and onside practical training.

This coursework will teach you how to take x-rays, maintain patient records, and schedule treatment or checkup appointments.

Your training at Orange Coast will guide you in the right way to sterilize instruments and prepare patients for dental procedures.

Handling patients requires that you can help them feel more at ease before they see the dentist, but it also involves providing compassionate post-operative care.

The interpersonal aspect of dentistry comes with practice, and so does taking teeth impressions and becoming comfortable teaching patients about oral hygiene, which you will learn.

5. Sacramento City College (Los Rios District)

Sacramento City College (Los Rios District) Logo

You can start with the 34.5-credit certificate of Dental Assisting training at Sacramento City College.

Then, you later may work and continue to earn your associate degree if you want.

When enrolled in this program, you’ll practice taking X-rays and learn how a dentist would place fillings.

Additional dental assisting tasks your instructors will demonstrate for you include how to maintain a clean and safe work environment, which includes dental instrument sterilization.

Your training will also prepare you to become the voice of reason on oral hygiene.

This means teaching patients how to clean and take care of their teeth at home.

First aid, scheduling patient appointments, and practicing showing compassion to several patients at once are also part of this coursework.

Your time spent in this certificate program will prepare you to meet your most current dental board exam requirements.

Dental Assistant Schools in California – Summary Table

Top 5 Schools in California

School NameAddress
Citrus College1000 W Foothill Blvd, Glendora, CA 91741
Chaffey College5885 Haven Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737
City College of San Francisco (CCSF)50 Frida Kahlo Way, San Francisco, CA 94112
Orange Coast College 2701 Fairview Rd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Sacramento City College (Los Rios District)3835 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95822


A range of salaries from $40,429 and $50,579 per year have been calculated as of April 2022.

The average amount of money made per year totals approximately $45,584 for California Dental Assistants.

You have quite a few certification options available to you, some of which could push you beyond $55,127 per year.

Look for jobs in multiple cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Alhambra, Berkeley, Sacramento, or Brentwood.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Dental Assistants in California

City NameSalary
Los Angeles$46,154
San Diego$44,040
San Jose$51,215
San Francisco$51,011
Long Beach$45,502
Santa Ana$45,543
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in California

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA930$45,480$21.87$65,060$35,320
Chico, CA270$46,750$22.48$59,480$35,840
El Centro, CA120$51,880$24.94$74,880$36,170
Fresno, CA1,390$46,260$22.24$57,530$35,200
Hanford-Corcoran, CA200$51,240$24.64$76,810$37,340
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA20,160$44,020$21.16$58,780$36,080
Madera, CA160$48,680$23.41$62,520$36,300
Merced, CA190$45,960$22.1$58,790$35,730
Modesto, CA900$46,500$22.36$60,810$31,100
Napa, CA230$53,280$25.62$65,420$38,970
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA790$47,760$22.96$60,910$35,960
Redding, CA240$45,810$22.03$59,680$35,390
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA5,120$45,440$21.85$56,920$36,470
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA3,310$49,690$23.89$59,400$37,250
Salinas, CA700$51,680$24.85$62,200$37,720
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA5,050$48,110$23.13$57,320$38,310
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA5,550$62,830$30.21$78,860$46,610
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA3,700$61,130$29.39$76,840$46,020
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA370$49,820$23.95$61,240$37,350
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA410$47,330$22.76$63,600$37,920
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA530$54,850$26.37$71,740$37,530
Santa Rosa, CA680$56,750$27.28$74,160$38,120
Stockton-Lodi, CA820$50,060$24.07$61,360$37,050
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA540$52,560$25.27$64,400$42,190
Visalia-Porterville, CA430$45,930$22.08$59,870$35,580
Yuba City, CA230$50,180$24.12$64,640$36,730
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Dental Assistants, OCC Code 31-9091, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a license to work as a dental assistant in California?

Unlicensed Dental Assistants can perform basic assisting duties, such as sterilization of equipment or taking phone calls, and scheduling appointments.

They cannot perform more advanced procedures, such as sealing teeth or ultrasonic scaling.

You must check with the Dental Board of California, which has a table of duties you can look up to see what you can and cannot do in this position.

What can an unlicensed dental assistant do in CA?

They can do most of what an RDA can do, but they must do it under the direct supervision of a dentist.

Regarding X-rays, they must first complete their training before being allowed to perform them under general supervision instead of being closely watched.

Again, the California Dental Board provides answers concerning this.

What does a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) do in CA?

As an RDA, you would perform most duties based on the dentist’s discretion.

In most cases, the dentist will probably be too busy to watch you that closely, but you will almost always be under general supervision.

You might, for instance, seal teeth or prepare prosthetics for bonding and place temporary crowns.

What are the benefits and challenges of working as a DA?

Some benefits of working as a Dental Assistant in California include being able to work in a high-demand and growing field, having a good work-life balance, and earning a competitive salary.

However, some challenges of working as a dental assistant in California include the high cost of living, the competitive job market, and the possibility of exposure to hazardous materials.

Do I need a degree to be a Dental Assistant?

You do not need a degree right away if you want to just perform basic duties.

However, you might later seek an associate degree before moving on to becoming a dentist if you want more authority in your field.

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