Dental student and teacher with patient

Dental Assisting - AAS

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 and in the lab.

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, while working alongside dentists as they examine and treat their patients.

The Dental Assisting Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, which is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

After acceptance into the Dental Assisting Program and before beginning courses, students will need to fulfill pre-program requirements for the AAS and AAS-T degrees or Dental Assisting Certificate. 

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

Estimated Program Costs

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

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

The student navigator will help you plan a course of study. This program typically admits students into first quarter core courses in the fall and spring. Registration for the Fall Quarter starts halfway through Spring Quarter and registration for Spring Quarters starts halfway through the Winter Quarter.

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.

ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) v.6 (given in DEN 100 course)

Applicants must score at the "BASIC" level or higher in each of the four areas on one transcript. See the ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills handout for more information about this entrance assessment.

  • TEAS Handout
  • Evidence of High School graduation or equivalent submitted to BTC Admissions Department.
  • Students must be 18 years or older before beginning program core courses.

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

Pre-Program Course Requirements

Students who have completed ALL prerequisite course requirements before the start of first quarter core courses will be allowed entry based on the order in which they register.

Updates to Dental Assisting pre-program course requirements are under review by the college. Interested students should meet with the program navigator.

All Program Option Registration Requirements:
Completion of the following courses with a minimum grade of 2.0 (C) or higher in each course.

  • Applied English (AENGL 100) or English Composition 1 (ENGL& 101)
  • Applied Occupational Math (AMATH 100) or higher
  • Essential of A&P (HT 121) or General Biology with Lab (BIOL& 160)
  • Interpersonal Communications (CMST& 210) or General Psychology (PSYC& 100)
  • Introduction to Dental Assisting (DEN 100)
  • Head & Neck Anatomy (DEN 105)
Completion of the following courses with a ‘P’ grade or submitted evidence of certification to BTC Admissions.
  • 7 Hour HIV/AIDS Training (AHA 106)
  • Healthcare Provider First Aid and CPR (AHA 203)

Physical Requirements

AFTER admissions acceptance into the program and prior to beginning program classes students must submit proof of all Clinical Placement Requirements.

What are My Next Steps?


  • Quarter 1

  • DEN 110Dental Foundations5 CR
  • DEN 112Chairside Assisting I7 CR
  • DEN 114Dental Sciences4 CR
  • DEN 115Dental Clinic Practicum I6 CR
  • HLTH 154HealthCare Provider First Aid and CPR1 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • DEN 120Patient Assessment8 CR
  • DEN 122Chairside Assisting II6 CR
  • DEN 124Radiography3 CR
  • DEN 125Dental Clinic Practicum II4 CR
  • Quarter 3

  • DEN 130Preventative Dentistry3 CR
  • DEN 132Dental Specialties1 CR
  • DEN 134Laboratory Procedures2 CR
  • DEN 135Dental Clinic Practicum III4 CR
  • DEN 137Extramural Practicum8 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

Graduates of the Dental Assisting Program find employment opportunities in Bellingham and throughout Washington state in dental, orthodontic, and periodontal offices, as well as in hospitals, public health departments, or clinics.

Bellingham Technical College’s dental assistant degree and certificate programs offer hands-on education and courses to sharpen your communication skills so you can be a vital member of dental health care teams.

BTC’s top-quality dental assistant training is widely respected by dental professionals. That’s why 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.

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 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

Photo of Karen McGuinn
Karen McGuinn
Dental Assisting