New Mexico Dental Assistant Schools and Salary Guide

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If you want a career that makes a difference in people’s lives, training to become a New Mexico Dental Assistant may be your answer.

You also can earn a living salary after only a few months to two years of schooling.

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Licensing Requirements To Become a Dental Assistant in New Mexico

An entry-level dental assistant in New Mexico can start out providing basic services for a dentist under close supervision.

If you want to be an expanded function dental auxiliary (EFDA), you must complete training from a school approved by Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

In addition, you must follow through with state-mandated EFDA certification exam requirements.

One of these includes taking the Radiation Health And Safety (RHS) exam upon completing the required coursework for the RHS certification.

You also need to complete the Infection Control (ICE), Coronal Polish, and Topical Fluoride certifications.

All the exams related to mandatory credentialing are provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

Another alternative is to study for the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential.

Some schools offer this plus all the necessary certification components required by the state.

1. Central New Mexico Community College (CNM)

Central New Mexico Community College Logo

The CNM three-term dental sciences program will prepare you to sit for the DANB exam.

This program, which is accredited by the Commission On Dental Sciences, prepares you for clinical or office dental work.

After coursework completion, you will be ready to assist a dental hygienist or licensed dentist.

For instance, you might assist with plaque and stain removal, fluoride administration, and dental sealing.

You will also receive X-ray certification training and experience in both classes and labs.

Experienced dentists will train you.

This course is also for continuing education students.

You could receive special provisions if you already have an RHS certificate or have already become a Registered Dental Hygienist. You get Credit For Prior Learning (CPL).

2. Doña Ana Community College (New Mexico State University)

Doña Ana Community College Logo

When you work as a dental assistant, it is like you are offering an extra set of hands according to Doña Ana.

This NMSU training center offers a certificate program in dental assisting that takes five terms or two years.

Learn subjects such as anatomy, physiology, and psychology and receive an introduction to working in a dentist’s office.

Then, receive communication and public speaking advice, which will help you when keeping patients comfortable.

Your study at Doña Ana includes hands-on training, during which time you will practice taking X-rays, identifying and using dental materials, and assisting with restorative dentistry.

3. Santa Fe Community College

Santa Fe Community College Logo

Santa Fe makes provisions for people who want to study for the EFDA and CDA certificate exams.

Any other requirement, such as testing for radiology competency and infection control is included.

Santa Fe’s training has received approval from both the State Board and is on DANB’s list of CODA-approved schools.

The duration of training depends on what program you take.

This Santa Fe coursework could take you up to two years if you want to earn an associate degree.

You will spend quite a bit of time in clinics to gain the real-world training needed for DA success.

4. Luna Community College

Luna Community College Logo

The CODA-approved Luna training takes about one year to complete full time.

Make sure you have taken all required prerequisites before you apply for admission.

This training will include a 300-hour externship in a real-world dental clinic setting.

The coursework prepares you for a CDA provided by the DANB.

It also gives you the training you need to qualify for and pass the RHS exam.

Your Luna coursework also puts you one step closer to meeting NM occupational hazard safety training.

In addition, you receive information about protecting yourself and patients from AIDS, Hepatitis, Covid-19, and other infections.

5. University of New Mexico at Gallup (UNM)

University of New Mexico at Gallup Logo

The one-year Gallup UNM training meets all necessary certification requirements for the state of New Mexico.

What you learn here also may transfer to other states who do not have strict requirements, but you’d have to verify that before enrolling.

You will receive hands-on training in all areas of office work and clinical assistance usually required by a dental assistant.

You will take radiology, preventative dentistry, ethics and professionalism, and nutrition classes.

Your third and final semester will include either three credit hours (125 clinical hours) or four credit hours (174 clinical hours) of “Clinical Dental Assisting.”

This last period of schooling usually takes place through a summer term.

Dental Assistant Schools in New Mexico – Summary Table

Top 5 Schools in New Mexico

School NameAddress
Central New Mexico Community College (CNM)900 University Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Doña Ana Community College (New Mexico State University)3400 Espina St, Las Cruces, NM 88003
Santa Fe Community College6401 Richards Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87508
Luna Community College366 Luna Dr, Las Vegas, NM 87701
The University of New Mexico at Gallup (UNM)705 Gurley Ave, Gallup, NM 87301


As of a 2022 report, a New Mexico dental assistant earns an annual income of $37,300.

The usual salary ranges from $33,082 to $41,387.

Acquiring an advanced certification and additional experience could increase your income to more than $45,108 each year.

Look for jobs in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Alamogordo, or Sunland Park.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Dental Assistants in New Mexico

City NameSalary
Las Cruces$34,688
Santa Fe$38,565
Rio Rancho$38,083
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in New Mexico

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Albuquerque, NM970$39,570$19.03$45,720$31,210
Farmington, NM150$39,970$19.22$48,210$30,850
Las Cruces, NM180$36,730$17.66$44,720$29,160
Santa Fe, NM170$42,550$20.46$47,320$33,860
* 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 degree to be a dental assistant in New Mexico?

No, you do not need a degree, but you need to seek training that helps you pass your state-required certification exams.

Check with the DANB, Coda, and New Mexico dentistry board to learn more.

What does an NM dental assistant do all day?

You will set up trays with instruments and supplies on them that a dentist needs for cleanings, repair procedures, and restorations.

Part of your work might also include scheduling appointments or filing patient records.

What qualifications does a DA in New Mexico need?

To succeed as a dental assistant in New Mexico, you must have the ability to remain calm and keep patients calm.

This will sometimes come as a challenge when you have several patients at once with appointments all on the same day.

Organizational skills also help, and this position requires some technical experience with computers and software.

Communicating professionally also is a priority because you are representing a dentist who wants to uphold a positive reputation within a community.

Are dental assistants in high demand?

The need may increase by 11% by 2030 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you are determined, you will find a job, which is why attending a school that offers in-person training in a clinical setting is important.

Where should I start looking for NM Dental Assistant jobs?

If you are in a formal training program, chances are you can seek employment on campus.

This experience will transfer to a public clinic or a private dental office.

Specialized dentists, such as ones who work with children or who perform orthodontic services, also need dental assistants.

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