Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Integrated Community Dental Assisting

Become a multi-skilled, “extra hands”, member on the dental team.

Female dental assistants work on patient

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How would you like a career in a growing field, with above-average pay, and a bounty of full-time work opportunities? You can be in-and-out in just three terms with the potential to earn over $18 per hour. Do you have good manual dexterity? Are you a good communicator with a wide range of people – toddlers through elderly? Can you multi-task? Are you good at organization? Are you a team player? Do you care that the workplace you are in is safe for clients and colleagues? Then, Dental Assisting may be the exciting and rewarding career for you.

The Job

Dental assistants are the first point of contact for patients and have the opportunity to ensure the practice is welcoming and provides excellent quality of care. The Dental Assisting (non-credit) program at PCC’s Institute for Health Professionals offers quick entry into this high-demand field in only 3 terms. Obtain the skills you need to succeed, and get the field experience, the contacts, and sufficient time to learn the most important techniques. Dental Assistants have both administrative and clinical responsibilities.

Administrative duties can include:

  • Reception
  • Scheduling appointments Appointment scheduling
  • Handling payment and receipts
  • Keeping track of and ordering supplies

Clinical responsibilities can include:

  • Preparing patients for their treatment
  • Sterilizing instruments
  • Assisting Dentist during the procedure
  • Operate suction devices
  • Exposing dental radiographs
  • Taking impressions
  • Fabricating provisional crowns
  • Performing restorations after the doctor has removed decay
  • Charting
  • Mixing dental materials
  • Providing patient education and post-operative instructions

Dental Assistants can work in:

  • Full time, part-time, or casual positions in private practices
  • Public Health Departments that operate dental clinics in hospitals, schools or community based clinics
  • Correctional Services, Defense forces, or some aged care facilities that provide dental and oral health services
  • Mobile dental clinics that travel to aged care facilities and remote areas providing dental treatment
The Program

The Dental Assisting (non-credit) program is split into 3 terms. Every term has an online classroom component, onsite hands-on training, an externship, and recommended certification exams. Below are the topics that are covered in each term.

Term 1:

  • Pre-clinical Knowledge & Skills
  • Basic Dental Science I
  • Business of Dentistry I
  • Dental Skills Lab and Externship

Term 2:

  • Clinical Knowledge & Skills
  • Basic Dental Sciences II
  • Dental Materials I
  • Oral Radiology I
  • Dental Skills Lab and Externship

Term 3:

  • Restorative Procedures & Specialties
  • Business of Dentistry III
  • Oral Radiology II
  • Dental Skills Lab and Externship III

Dental Assisting National Board Exams will be taken at an outside agency, and are the responsibility of the student to pay for and arrange. The schedule of testing will be provided to students.

  • Accelerated. In 3 terms (or roughly 9 months), you will be able to begin a career in Dental Assisting.
  • Convenient. The coursework portion of this program is completely online. The hands-on training are held during the weekends.
  • Hands-on training. Throughout the program, there are regularly scheduled onsite, hands-on skills training in Portland at the Sylvania Campus Dental Sciences Building held during the weekends.
  • Externships. Develop real-life experience in highly vetted dental offices prepared and enthusiastic about hosting Dental Assistant students. If you live outside of the Portland metro area, we will work with you to acquire a dental clinic for those externships, such that you can practice in, or near, your home. Our Dental Assisting coordinator makes all final decisions regarding placement, however.
The Investment


  • 3 terms (roughly 9 months) in length
  • Approximately 3, 3 credit classes each term
  • Attendance at onsite, 8 hours a week hands-on skills training
  • Participation in weekly externship


  • Registration Fee: $7,829
  • Books: $350 (subject to change)
  • Certification Exams: $1,050 (paid directly to certify agency and subject to change)
  • Appropriate lab and dental office attire: Roughly $200
  • Payment plans are available through Portland Community College.

Please note: Federal Financial Aid is not available for this non-credit program.

The Instructor

Coming Soon.


Is this program eligible for FAFSA funds/financial aid/scholarships?
Because the program is a non-credit college program (not a for-credit degree or certificate), no scholarships or financial aid are available. Upon registration, a student can make arrangements for payments through the Student Accounts Office, or view other payment options.

Are there any prerequisites to the Dental Assisting program?
Complete Math 10 or placement into Math 20 and complete Writing 115 or placement into Writing 121. Current CPR Card.

Will I earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs)? How many?
Yes, all participants will be awarded CEUs for program completion. The Dental Assisting program is a total of 900 hours which equals the same number of CEU.

Can you tell me more about your DA faculty?
Portland Community College has a 23 chair state of the art dental clinic with the latest equipment providing dental care for community patients.

Do I need special software or equipment to participate in this program?
All participants will need a computer with high speed internet and a headset with microphone (there are call in options for using your phone if necessary) to participate in the live classes. The program is delivered through web-based software, Desire2Learn (D2L) and Blackboard Collaborate, so it can be accessed from anywhere.

Prior to the first class, participants will receive detailed instructions and tutorials for using the software. In the meantime, you can learn more about using the software. Students are highly encouraged to access both D2L and Collaborate several days prior to the first class. If there are any questions about either program, you will have time to connect with PCC for answers and not take instructional time due to technical issues that could be managed in advance.

Can I earn college credit through this program?
This is a non-credit program. If credit is one of your requirements, you are encouraged to explore the PCC credit program on the Dental Assisting website.

For more information, please contact Stacy Kimsey.

Upcoming Course Schedule

Don’t see the course you want? Contact us for more information.


Apply Today

An application is required for acceptance into this program. The next cohort begins Winter 2022. Application due December 6th, 2021.