Dental Assisting

Dental Assisting - Certificate

Dental student and teacher working with patient

Due to the COVID-19 Impact: BTC is suspending new student enrollment for the 2020/21 academic year in Dental Assisting. BTC continues to explore ways to enroll Dental Assisting students in the future. If you have declared your intent for this program, you have been sent an email with details.

Students interested in the Dental Assisting Program are encouraged to meet with the Program Navigator Laura Doss

Please attend the online session and learn about our Nursing & Allied Health Programs, and about funding and student support resources that can help you get started at BTC.

Take the right steps to launch your career as a dental assistant. The Dental Assisting Program at Bellingham Technical College will provide top job training so you’ll learn how to assist dentists in caring for patients and how to work effectively in a dental office.

Choose BTC’s Dental Assisting Program to train for a position as a dental assistant. Learn how to provide patient care, perform office duties and lab work.

Note: The Dental Assisting Certificate Program is no longer a CODA Accredited Program.

Note: BTC has not made a determination that the Dental Assisting curriculum meets educational requirements for licensure/certification outside of Washington State. We encourage students who plan to work out-of-state to check relevant local licensure/certification requirements.

Employment Information

93% BTC graduate placement rate

$35,776 starting annual wage
$42,682 average annual wage
$50,898 potential annual wage
  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    BTC graduate employment rates:
    The graduate employment rate reflects placement rates of students who graduated from BTC in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Data Linking for Outcomes Assessment database pulls from Unemployment Insurance (UI) data across Washington and Oregon. UI data do not reflect BTC graduates who (a) are employed in states beyond those listed above or outside of the United States, (b) are self-employed, (c) are active duty members of the armed forces, (d) continued on to another educational institution, and/or (e) did not provide a social security number while enrolled at BTC.

    Washington State Employment Security Department 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates ( reflect 2014-2017 employment

    Starting annual wage = 25th percentile
    Average annual wage = 50th percentile
    Potential annual wage = 75th percentile

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

BTC is offering a new Dental Assisting Certificate beginning Fall 2021.

Students interested in the Dental Assisting Program are encouraged to meet with the Program Navigator Laura Doss

There is NO application required for this program.

  • Checklist for Dental Assisting (coming soon)
  • FAQ for Dental Assisting (coming soon)

The student navigator will help you plan a course of study. This program will admit students into first quarter core courses in the fall, winter and spring. 

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

Admissions application and assessment testing in Reading, Math and Writing is required. Your score on the test and/or your previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence. Contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with academic planning.


The Dental Assisting Certificate Program is no longer a CODA Accredited Program.

Pre-Program Course Requirements

Interested students in the Dental Assisting Certificate should meet with the program navigator.

Physical Requirements

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits:


  • Quarter 1

  • DEN 101Introduction to Dental Assisting3 CR
  • AENGL 100Applied English5 CR
  • AMATH 100Applied Occupational Math5 CR
  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communication5 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • DEN 106Fundamentals of Dental Safety4 CR
  • DEN 107Dental Assisting Radiology3 CR
  • DEN 108Foundations of Clinical Procedures4 CR
  • DEN 109Dental Assisting Lab Practicum6 CR

Program Outcomes

  • Apply academic, technical, and professional skills to effectively contribute to the dental health team.
  • Apply cognitive retention of dental terminology, theory, and science.
  • Expose and evaluate intraoral and extraoral radiographs implementing radiation safety and processing skills.
  • Verify critical thinking, problem solving, and positive work ethics as they directly relate to the Dental Assistant profession.
  • Validate the importance of National Certification and participation in professional activities and education opportunities.

Employment Outlook

Employment opportunities for dental assistants in Washington State are expected to grow due to rapid employment growth and above average job turnover.

About 93% of BTC Dental Assisting students are employed within nine months of graduation. The average annual wage in this field is $42,682, with an earning potential of about $50,898 per year.

Criminal convictions may restrict or prevent student participation with internships and employment in this industry.

Most dental assistants are employed by private dental offices. Dental assistants may also be employed by orthodontists, periodontists, hospitals, dental schools, state and local public health departments, the military, or in clinics. Although most program graduates work as dental assistants, opportunities may also exist for employment as research assistants or sales representatives.

Faculty & Support

Photo of Karen McGuinn
Karen McGuinn
Dental Assisting

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Dental Assisting Certificate, Bellingham Vocational Technical Institute - 2004

    WA Professional Technical Certification - 2004

    Registered Dental Assistant, Washington State - 2004

    Certified Dental Assistant - 2004

    AAS-T, Professional Technical Education, Bellingham Technical College - 2004

    Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant - 2004

Photo of Laura Doss
Laura Doss
College Navigator

Laura Doss has been at BTC for 10 years in the roles of Academic & Career Advisor, Student Navigator, Instructor, Completion Coach and now College Navigator for the Allied Health Programs. Laura earned her Bachelor of Science while serving in the US Army and stationed in Germany and her Master of Education while stationed at Fort Sill, OK. Her initial education and training was in the mental health field before moving into education. Outside of work, Laura likes to spend time with her four kids, walking the trails, cuddling with her tiny dog and reading a ton of books!

Photo of Alisa Wollens
Alisa Wollens
Dental Assisting & Dental Hygiene Programs Coordinator/Instructor