Dental Assisting

Dental Assisting - Certificate

Dental student and teacher working with patient


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

Data are provided on a program (not credential) level

94% BTC graduate placement rate1

$39,166 starting annual wage2
$46,301 average annual wage2
$53,851 potential annual wage2


  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    1Employment data come from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and reflect WA/OR employment for students enrolled at BTC between 2016-17 and 2018-19. Students are included in the employment rate if they left with a credential. Rates are not shown for programs with fewer than 10 students meeting the above criteria.

    2Wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates (Washington State wage) and reflect 2015-2018 employment. Wage data represent occupations that BTC faculty have identified as the most relevant career paths for program graduates. Note that these wages reflect employees with varying educational levels/credentials. For cases in which multiple occupations have been identified by faculty, a weighted percentile is calculated using each occupation’s percentile wage and employment size estimate. Wages are not shown for programs for which occupations do not meet the ESD’s minimum thresholds for publishing. If the program has wage data from the Washington SBCTC that involves shift work, these ESD wages reflect the same number of hours used in the annual wage calculation. Starting wage = 25th percentile, median wage = 50th percentile, wage potential = 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 should apply to the college and contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with getting started at BTC. A college application and your score on assessment testing and/or previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence.

Attend an online Dental Assisting Info Session on May 10, 2022 and learn about our Dental Assisting program, and about funding and student support resources that can help you get started at BTC.

There is NO application required for this program.

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. 

Students will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. To be considered fully vaccinated, two weeks must have passed since the date of the second dose or first dose for the one-dose vaccine. Due to the nature of dental assisting skills performed in the lab setting, the program can’t accept any exemptions to fully COVID-19 vaccination.

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.

Early Program Course Requirements

  • ACCUPLACER Classic Reading Comprehension 71 or higher OR ACCUPLACER Next Gen Reading 247 or higher OR RDG 085 with a C or higher.
  • ACCUPLACER Classic Sentence Skills  71 or higher OR ACCUPLACER Next Gen Writing 245 or higher OR ENGL 092 with a C or higher.
  • ACCUPLACER Classic Arithmetic 38 or higher OR ACCUPLACER Next Gen 230 or higher OR ABE 050 with a C or higher.

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

Physical Requirements

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 35

  • Quarter 1

  • DEN 101Introduction to Dental Assisting3 CR
  • OR
  • DEN 100Introduction to Dental Assisting1 CR
  • AND
  • DEN 105Head and Neck Anatomy2 CR
  • AENGL 100Applied English5 CR
  • Or higher
  • AMATH 100Applied Occupational Math5 CR
  • Or higher
  • 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

  • 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

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!