How to Become a Dental Assistant in Pennsylvania

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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Pennsylvania

Entry-level dental assistants in Pennsylvania don’t need special qualifications in order to work in a dental office, though they have to perform their duties while being supervised by a licensed dentist.

Dental assistants can pursue 2 certifications that allow them to perform additional duties: 

  • Certification for X-ray Procedures
  • Certification for Expanded Functions (EFDA)

Having these certifications improves the chances of finding employment and earning a higher salary.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Philadelphia $40,500
Pittsburgh $37,137
Allentown $37,589
Erie $34,826
Reading $37,397
Upper Darby $40,500
Scranton $34,799
Bensalem $42,578
Lancaster $36,937
Bethlehem $37,589

Regional Salary in Pennsylvania

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ890$44,890$21.58$59,600$36,720
Altoona, PA90$39,690$19.08$48,060$29,510
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA60$41,120$19.77$57,150$30,020
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA110$42,490$20.43$56,660$30,930
Erie, PA230$39,790$19.13$57,140$29,650
Gettysburg, PA60$40,940$19.68$52,720$31,320
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA620$44,290$21.3$60,000$36,340
Johnstown, PA90$37,730$18.14$45,770$29,750
Lancaster, PA640$44,750$21.51$57,200$36,020
Lebanon, PA90$41,940$20.16$55,530$28,410
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD5,830$48,040$23.1$58,150$35,700
Pittsburgh, PA1,800$44,160$21.23$63,690$33,860
Reading, PA390$42,770$20.56$58,310$35,740
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA330$41,250$19.83$49,650$31,330
State College, PA160$42,270$20.32$53,270$31,800
Williamsport, PA60$41,310$19.86$53,330$30,330
York-Hanover, PA320$42,110$20.25$59,130$30,820
* 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.

Requirements for a Dental Assistant

To work as an entry-level dental assistant, individuals must:

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  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be legally able to work in the United States
  • Not have any significant criminal record
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

These dental assistants are permitted to:

  • Undertake tasks considered appropriate by the supervising dentist
  • Perform occupational safety procedures
  • Perform infection control

Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA)

 EFDAs can perform the following tasks while being supervised by a dentist:

  • Placing and removing matrices, rubber dams, and wedges
  • Applying bases and cavity liners
  • Placing, condensing, carving, and contouring amalgam restorations
  • Finishing and placing sealant material and composite resin restorations
  • Coronal polishing
  • Fluoride treatments such as fluoride varnishing
  • Taking various impressions of teeth

One can become an EFDA through the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry.

The process involves completing an educational program and passing an EFDA Exam.

Those who want to earn their EFDA Certification can qualify in one of these ways:

  • Obtaining an associate’s of science degree from a dental assistant school in Pennsylvania that is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry
  • Completing a dental hygiene program accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission that has a minimum of 75 hours of didactic and clinical instruction related to restorative functions
  • Completing a dental assistant certification program approved by the State Board of Dentistry, of at least 200 hours of didactic and clinical instruction, that specifically covers expanded functions

After meeting one requirement, candidates must fill out the application form and send it to the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry, with the following documents:

  • Application fee -$75
  • A curriculum vitae of a candidate’s professional activities since completing the dental assisting academic program
  • Proof of current CPR certification
  • Any out-of-state licenses, permits, or certifications – if they exist
  • Official dental assistant academic transcripts or degrees

The last two types of documents need to be sent directly to the Board by the agencies that issued them.

If the application is complete, the candidate will receive an EFDA exam eligibility postcard from PSI.

Candidates can register online for the exam.

The exam lasts for 150 minutes and costs $99.

Only those passing the exam receive their EFDA Certification.

Authorization to Perform X-rays

With this authorization, the professional can perform X-rays while being supervised by a dentist.

Candidates need to first pass the Radiology Health and Safety (RHS) exam, offered through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), which costs $175.

The exam has 4 main parts:

  • Exposure and evaluation – approximately 26%
  • Quality assurance and radiology regulations – 21%
  • Radiation safety for patients and operators – 31%
  • Infection control – 22%

Once they pass, they need to send a completed application and the $75 application fee to the State Board of Dentistry.

Maintaining Qualifications in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, dental assistants with an expanded function certification need to renew their credentials every odd-numbered year, before March 31.

There are a few steps to complete and a few requirements before they can renew their credentials.

First, those interested need to complete a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education, and the subjects can cover the following:

  • Infection control
  • Laws and regulations that pertain to EFDAs
  • Scientific and medical subjects
  • Technological and clinical subjects
  • Emergency procedures
  • Abuse and neglect

Once the continued education is completed they need a documenting attesting it.

Then, candidates have to fill out an application and send it along with the renewal fee of $25 and the attestation and send all these documents to the State Board of Dentistry.

During the first full period of renewal, EFDAs must complete a minimum of 3 hours in coronal polishing at a hands-on clinical training course.

These hours must be part of their continuing education hours, and they can bypass it if they already completed a similar type of training.

Professional organizations can provide additional information about subjects including:

  • Dental assistant jobs in Pennsylvania
  • Upcoming continuing education opportunities
  • Dental assistant certification programs in Pennsylvania

Schools Offering Dental Assisting Programs in Pennsylvania

School Name Address
All-State Career School-Allied Health Campus 50 W Powhattan Ave, Essington, Pennsylvania 19029
Berks Technical Institute 2205 Ridgewood Rd, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania 19610-1168
Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology 540 N Harrison Rd, Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania 16823
Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center 1500 4th Ave, Altoona, PA 16602
Great Lakes Institute of Technology 5100 Peach Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16509-2482
Harcum College 750 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg (HACC) 1 HACC Dr, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Lehigh Valley School of Dental Assisting 881 3rd St, Whitehall, PA 18052,
Luzerne County Community College 1333 South Prospect Street, Nanticoke, Pennsylvania 18634-3899
Manor College 700 Fox Chase Rd, Jenkintown, PA 19046
Pittsburgh Career Institute 421 Seventh Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Westmoreland County Community College 145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood, Pennsylvania 15697-1895
YTI Career Institute-Capital Region 401 East Winding Hill Road Suite 101, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055
SmileSystems School of Dental Assisting 461 S. Main St., Hatfield, PA 19440
Contemporary Health Career Institute 101 John Robert Thomas Dr, Exton, PA 19341, United States
PITC Institute 827 Glenside Ave., Admin Bldg A, Wyncote, PA 19095
OceanPointe Dental Assisting Academy 90 E. MAIN STREET NORTH EAST, PA 16428
FORTIS Colleges and Institutes in Pennsylvania 166 Slocum Street Forty Fort, PA 18704
FORTIS Colleges and Institutes in Pennsylvania 517 Ash Street Scranton, PA 18509
OceanPointe Dental Academy Newtown, PA Campus 7 Cambridge Lane, Newtown, PA 18940
Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center 1500 Fourth Avenue, Altoona, PA 16602
Lancaster County Career & Technology Center. 1730 Hans Herr Drive, Willow Street, PA 17584
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