Receive a dental assistant certificate online by completing a dental assistant training program, which typically takes approximately one to two years to complete, according to the Guide to Online Schools. Several colleges offer dental assistant training programs online, including Bowling Green State University and Old Dominion University. Dental assistant programs require a year of full-time study plus hands-on training.
Dental assisting programs usually begin with an oral anatomy course, explains the Guide to Online Schools. Some programs require general science classes, such as microbiology, though most of the coursework focuses on dental techniques. Required courses typically include dental radiology, dental materials and dental office management.
Since dental assistant training programs require hands-on dental experience, some programs allow students to take certain classes online, and require students to come to the physical campus for clinical classes. Other programs are designed to certify dental assistants who are already employed, in which case the assistant gains hands-on experience through the employing dentist's office, notes the Guide to Online Schools.
Dental assistant positions usually require candidates to have a dental assisting diploma or certificate, and do not require a bachelor's degree, reports the Guide to Online Schools. However, a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene sufficiently prepares a student for a career as a dental assistant and potentially provides a candidate with more job and leadership opportunities.
Most states require dental assistants to be licensed, with the exact requirements varying in each state, according to the Guide for Online Schools. One common licensure exam is the Certified Dental Assistant exam, which is comprised of three parts. To obtain a certificate of competency, students must pass each section.