Dental Assisting - FAQ

What does a dental assistant do?

A dental assistant is an oral health professional who assists the dentist to provide preventative, restorative, and surgical treatments. They also work independently taking x-rays, providing sealants, and doing lab work.  Job responsibilities vary greatly, and can include positions such as office management. 

What areas of dentistry do dental assistants work in?

A dental assistant can work in any of the following areas:
General dentistry (which can include services in any of the specialty areas)

  • Orthodontics (braces)
  • Pedodontics (dentistry for children)
  • Periodontics (dealing with diseases of the gums and supporting structures)
  • Endodontics (root canals)
  • Prosthodontics (crowns, bridges, dentures-- sometimes combined with facial reconstruction)

Our DA program provides training for all of these areas and the credentials needed for them.

Will I be eligible to practice as a dental assistant if I graduate from this program?

The LCC Dental Assisting Program is fully accredited. Graduation from this program makes you eligible for national certification and state licensure, which is required in order to perform all of the expanded functions of dental assisting.

Do I need a license or certificate to work as a dental assistant in Oregon? If so, how will I go about getting it?

Although basic dental assisting duties can be performed without a license or certificate,  Lane's dental assisting graduates can obtain the credentials needed to perform all of the expanded functions required by most dental employers after successfully completing state/national written examinations. This allows the assistant to provide many additional dental services and take needed x-rays.

Do program graduates get hired in the Eugene/Springfield area and what is the starting wage?

For the last several years, 100% of Lane’s Dental Assisting students seeking employment were hired within 3 months of graduation.  Approximately 80% were hired prior to graduation, many at their internship offices.  All of these students gained employment in Eugene/Springfield, with the exception of students  that chose to move to other areas. The average starting wage for 2022 graduates in Eugene/Springfield was $21-$22 dollars per hour.

Is there any help given to find employment?

As part of the program, students participate in Cooperative Education internships at 2 local offices. Students are often hired through this process, even before they graduate. The program also includes a course for DA students to compose a resume, cover letter, and thank you letter designed specifically for the dental assisting application process. Interview techniques are also covered and all known employment opportunities are posted for graduating students.

What organizations or agencies approve or accredit the program so that the graduates can be certified or licensed?

The LCC Dental Assisting program is fully accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation. This allows the graduates to obtain all credentials through the Dental Assisting National Board's "Pathway I" option.

How do I get into the program?

Students are required to submit a completed application by the posted deadline. Each applicant will receive points for completed academic coursework based on the grade achieved in that class. Program readiness is determined by a panel during an application interview which is assessed points using objective criteria. All points are combined to determine the strength of the application for the Dental Assisting Program. The current point system is included in the application packet.

Is there a residency requirement for getting accepted into the program?

All applicants must be Oregon residents by the date of application or have F1 visa status.

How and when can I apply?

The application is found on the Dental Assisting Program website. Application deadlines are also provided. Interested applicants should begin reviewing the online application in Fall and early Winter terms to become acquainted with application requirements. Meeting with Academic Advisors and careful planning will benefit the applicant, assuring that he/she has completed required coursework and application requirements.

I'm concerned about the criminal background check.  How might the outcome affect my program eligibility?
All students must complete a criminal background check prior to beginning the program. Students are not excluded from the program based on the reported results; however, clinical facilities may exclude you if something in your background is flagged. If the program is unable to place you in a clinical setting due to something in your criminal background, you will not be able to complete the program (as clinical internships are a component) or test for your national and state credentials. If you have any history of criminal activity that has not been expunged, you are encouraged to contact program advising,, or the program coordinator, Leslie Greer at

What about the required drug and alcohol test?

All Health Professions programs have strict alcohol and drug policies. As our professions include providing healthcare for others, it is imperative that we not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol to any degree. A test that is positive for the presence of drugs or alcohol will eliminate the candidate as a possible applicant for the Dental Assisting Program.  This includes prescribed pain killers and marijuana— even if used for medical purposes. In addition, all DA students can be tested at any time during the program at the expense of the student if drug or alcohol influence is suspected.  

What are the prerequisites courses for the program?

The following courses or their equivalent are required prior to the beginning of fall term of the program.

  • MTH 052 or higher with a letter grade of C or higher. (Testing into Math 65 or higher meets this requirement)
  • Human Relations Requirement (from the approved DA list) with a letter grade of C or higher
  • WR 115 or WR 121, WR 122 or WR 123 with a letter grade of C or higher (A transcripted degree of bachelors or higher meets this requirement)
  • CIS 101 or CS 120 with a letter grade of C or higher
  • DA 110 with a letter grade of C or higher.*

*HO 150 / HO 152 combination OR a combination of BI 231 / BI 232 can be substituted for DA 110 (All courses must be passed with a letter grade of C or better.) 

Please review the needed pre-requisites under transfer degrees if you are also considering applying your DA courses to an AGS degree. This may be a consideration in deciding which class to take when options are available.

I won't have all my prerequisites completed by the application deadline. Can I still get into the program?

The Dental Assisting Program prerequisites need to be completed by the beginning of the program year; however, as points are awarded based on grades achieved in taking the prerequisite courses, completion of the courses prior to application makes the application more competitive.

If I have taken extra classes, will that improve my chances of being selected for the program?

Additional points will be awarded for successful completion of three classes that are not required, but would be beneficial. These are:

  • HP 100 Medical Terminology
  • HP 110 Health Office Procedures
  • EL 115H Effective Learning; Health Science Majors

For point allocations and minimum qualifying scores, see the application point sheet.

Does past military service improve my chances of getting into the program?

Additional application points are awarded for current service or veterans that have been given an honorable discharge. See the point allocation sheet for details.

Does a previous college degree or certificate improve my chances of getting into the program?

Additional application points are awarded for the following transcripted degrees: associates, bachelors, masters or higher. A transcripted Basic Healthcare Certificate is also awarded additional points. For point allocation, see the application point sheet.

Will employment in a dental office help me be accepted to the program?

Additional application points can be earned by previous paid employment in a dental office. For point allocations and minimum number of hours to qualify, see the application point sheet.

I've taken classes outside of Lane that seem similar to the prerequisites. Will the program accept my previous coursework?

Course equivalencies must be applied for and evaluated. This is the responsibility of the student. Information and a course transfer tool can be found on the Transferring Credits information page. Steps are also outlined on page 2 of the Dental Assisting application information packet.

How many students does the program accept each year?

The LCC Dental Assisting Program admits 30 students per year.

If I apply this year but don't get in, am I automatically accepted for next year?

Based on the point system used, qualified applications with the highest point scores are categorized as “accepted” or “alternate.” If your application is categorized as alternate, and you are not needed to fill a vacant spot in the program this year, you will automatically be accepted for the following year without having to reapply—as long as you attended all mandatory sessions and confirm your intent to enter by the designated date.  

How much does the program cost?

Estimated program costs are approximately $14,000. This includes tuition and all associated enrollment fees; all required textbooks; supplies and instruments; scrubs, shoes and safety glasses required for clinics and labs; three board exams, and all certificates needed for employment in Oregon.

Are there scholarships available to help with the costs?

In addition to federal grants and loans (determined through FAFSA), there are scholarships available through WorkSource Lane and the LCC Foundation. Although FAFSA is financially based (and is often required to submit along with other scholarship applications), there are scholarships available through WorkSource Lane (up to $5000) and the LCC Foundation that are not financially based. In addition to these, several $750 Jan Malone Scholarships are awarded each year to current Dental Assisting students that show a strong aptitude for the dental field.