Dental Assistant Professional Certificate


Employment Opportunities

As a Dental Assistant, you will have the opportunity to work directly with dentists treating patients. You may also provide support to the dental office by working as a receptionist or a sterilization assistant. The average salary for Dental Assistant Professionals in Alberta is $28 per hour.

When you become a Registered Dental Assistant, you will unlock doors to careers in many different areas, including:
Dental Assistant

  • Registered Dental Assistant
  • Public Health Dental Assistant
  • Dental Specialty Assistant
  • Dental Assistant Educator
  • Denturist Assistant
  • Clinical Float Assistant
  • Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Clerk (sterilization)
  • Continuing Care Coordinator
  • Dental Administrator/Receptionist
  • Financial Coordinator
  • Treatment Coordinator
  • Dental Hygiene Coordinator
  • Public Educator in Oral Health Prevention
  • Dental Lab Assistant
  • Dental Sales Representative
  • Dental Benefits Representative – Insurance Company

Graduation/Employment Success

2014 – 2015: 97% Graduation Rate
2014 – 2015: 98% Employment Rate

Outstanding Success
Columbia College is proud of the fact that its Dental Assistant Professional Program graduates, as a whole, have consistently scored higher than the passing score on the National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) exam. We believe this independent assessment of our graduates is a testament to the quality of our faculty and staff, learning environment, students, and program.

Columbia College is excited to announce that on the most recent NDAEB exam in 2015, Columbia’s Dental Graduates scored an average of 69.5% on the national exam, which is more than 11% higher than the National Exam passing score set by the National Dental Board.


The Dental Assistant Professional Program is designed to provide you with the skills, technical knowledge, and clinical experience that are essential for you to become an effective member of the dental healthcare profession.

The curriculum provides the education needed by dental assistants who, as members of the dental health team, can assume responsibility for providing patient care in collaboration with other healthcare providers and in accordance with provincial regulations within the scope of practice of dental assistants in their province of registration and employment.

Columbia’s Dental Assistant Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.

Full-Time Day Program Description

    Dental Assistant Program

  • An accelerated program! Finish quickly and be out earning a salary!
  • 2 start dates every year.
  • Class sizes are limited to 36 students.
  • 30 week program of intensive training and education with classroom learning integrated into a dental clinic setting each semester. (5 semesters of varying lengths)
  • Students attend classes at the Columbia College Campus for the first 26 weeks and complete their Practicum during the final 4 weeks in a General Dental Practice.
  • Students attend classes mostly ½ days, to permit time for *pre-class/ clinic learning.
  • Clinics/Labs are delivered in 2 shifts. (AM and PM shifts alternate for all students every other week- varying from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
  • Final Examinations are usually scheduled Saturday mornings.
  • Facilitator to student ratio in clinic is typically 1:6.
  • Students coordinate their own Practicum.
  • The College provides career and employment support.
  • Students in this program require access to a personal computer and the internet in order to:
    • Access required course materials and complete assignments posted on our “Moodle” learning platform.
    • Access required course materials available online through the publisher of the Textbook (Evolve).
    • Preview clinical demonstration videos posted on You-tube as a required part of their pre-clinic learning.
    • Conduct research, develop, and print documents for various assignments and presentations.

*In this model, students need to be prepared to spend between 4-6 hours before each class completing pre-class learning activities.

Full-Time Day Program Start Dates

  • May 8, 2017
  • October 30, 2017

Our learning model is unique!

Since our program is delivered in semesters and courses in each semester are prerequisites for the next semester, each student’s academic progress is closely monitored to identify students who may be at-risk and to help them get the help they need right away, so that they may become successful.

Dental Assistant ProgramStudents engaged in this accelerated program must be prepared for classes and clinics that are delivered using a learner centered delivery model in which students are responsible for their own learning.

In this model, students need to be prepared to spend between 4-6 hours before each class completing pre-class learning activities including:

  • Reviewing the course outline and the Learning Outcomes for each class.
  • Studying the content of the Textbook and completing the corresponding recall questions and workbook assignments.
  • Accessing the publisher’s website for associated; practice quizzes, flashcards, web links, exercises, videos etc.
  • Reviewing the supplemental content of the program manual and completing the self-assessments and activities.
  • Preparing written questions to be clarified in class.
  • Preparing to write an in-class “Pre-test” to assess the pre-class learning.

During the class, the facilitator leads the students through a variety of activities to clarify concepts and help the students to understand how the concepts might be applied in clinical settings.

An assignment or “clinical test” is scheduled within a few days of the scheduled class to measure each student’s comprehension of the learning outcomes, and final examinations are delivered to measure each student’s retention of the course materials.

Students prepare for each clinic and lab by completing assigned pre-clinic learning activities including:

  • Reviewing the course outline and the Performance Outcomes for each skill and activity
  • Studying the procedures provided in the Textbook
  • Watching the clinical demonstration videos.
  • Reviewing the evaluation criteria provided in the Clinical Manual

During the clinic and lab time provided the student will be prepared to practice and learn to assess their own “performance” through self-evaluation.

“Evaluations” are conducted by clinical facilitators to measure each student’s competency in each skill and procedure.

Admission Requirements

Please click here to view the general Admission Process and Information.

Additional Requirements

  • Attend Columbia College’s tuition-free College Skills for Success course (20 hours) before the start of your program.
  • An Admissions interview to determine suitability for the profession and possibility for success in the program.

Once an applicant has met the academic admission requirements, the student will be required to provide proof of the following prior to the start of classes/clinic.

  • Submit a CPR Level HCP (Health Care Provider) certificate (current for the duration of the program) – (Note: a 1 day course is offered at the College during the week prior to the College Skills for Success course – a fee is assessed. A student may also take this training at another institution prior to the first day of classes.)
  • Dentist verification that all immediate dental treatment has been completed and that the student is in good oral health – within 4 months of program start.
  • Verification from health professional that the student has been immunized against: Hepatitis B, and Rubella (MMR-measles, mumps, rubella vaccine) and undergone tuberculosis screening

Other Admission Considerations

  • Do your academic skills need to be upgraded to meet admission entry requirements?
    If your academic skills need to be improved in one or more areas, the student may be referred to Columbia College’s Intensive Academic Preparation – College Prep. See Continuing Education – Intensive Academic Preparation – College Prep.
  • English Proficiency Requirement
    For applicants whose first language is not English, please refer to the English Language Proficiency Requirements section.
  • Are you working or have worked in this field?
    Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) recognizes this non-formal learning, and you may not need to take all the courses in this program. We will assess your experience in determining what courses you need to take to become certified. Read more in the PLAR Guidelines 2016 document.
  • Do you have courses to transfer from another college or university?
    If you have taken courses at another college or university, these courses may be transferrable to this certificate program.
  • There are no additional selection requirements. Admission is offered on a first-qualified, first-accepted basis. A waitlist may be established. Columbia College reserves the right to grant or refuse admission to any applicant.

Student Handbook

click here to view the student handbook for the Dental Assistant Professional program (Rev. Sept. 13, 2016) for students beginning in October 2016.

Please click here to view the student handbook for the Dental Assistant Professional program for students began in March 2016.

Course List and Descriptions

For a full list of courses and course descriptions for this program, please click here.

Tuition Fees

Columbia College’s tuition and general fees come into effect August 1 of each year.

For more information about tuition and the Columbia College Tuition chart, please see the Tuition and Fees page.

Additional Fees
Students are responsible for the additional fees for this program. These fees are an approximation.

Required for the Program:

  • Uniforms/scrubs and duty shoes: $300
  • Protective eyewear: $100-$500
  • CPR Level HCP: $100
  • Immunizations: $100
  • CADA (College of Alberta Dental Assistants) Provisional Registration fees: $350-$425
  • NDAEB (National Dental Assisting Examination Board) Exam: $450
  • Dental Exam: $100

Refund of Tuition Fees

Please refer to the Student Contract of Tuition form for details of tuition refund policy. This form is available from this program’s Student Admission Advisor.

How to Register

For details on applying or reapplying to this program, please refer to the Admissions page.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the Dental Assistant Professional Certificate Program, students must:

  • Earn 51 credits by achieving a passing grade in all 13 courses,
  • Achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher (equivalent to a B or 75-79% average),
  • Achieve a passing grade on all Summary Tests and Final Exams,
  • Demonstrate competency in all clinical and lab skills and
  • Successfully complete the practicum portion of the Program.

Licensure Requirements

Registration with the College of Alberta Dental Assistants (CADA) is mandatory for anyone wishing to practice Dental Assisting in Alberta.

CADA is the regulatory body that sets the requirements for registration. Completion of the registration process allows the dental assistant to use the title “registered dental assistant” and “dental assistant” and the initials “RDA” and “DA”.

Requirements for Registration are as follows:

  • Successfully complete a formal education program (including practicum),
  • Apply for Provisional Registration (a permit to practice after graduation*):
    • Submit the on-line Application form.
    • Pay the assessment and registration fees to the CADA.

*Graduates can expect to wait 5-10 business days after completion of practicum for confirmation from the CADA that provisional registration is in effect before starting to work as a dental assistant.

  • Pass the NDAEB (National Dental Assisting Examining Board) Examination.
  • Complete the Continuing Competence Program (CCP) requirements.

Once all of the above have been completed, provisionally registered members will automatically be transferred to Registered Dental Assistant Status.

For complete details about the Profession of Dental Assisting, refer to the College of Alberta Dental Assistants website

Board of Advisors

The Board of Advisors for the Dental Assistant Professional program is a multi-disciplinary group. The members represent the interests and expertise of their functional group who provide a valuable contribution to the Dental Assistant Professional program. The Board meets regularly. The functional groups represented are:

  • Representative(s) from the Calgary Dental Assistants Association
  • Representative(s) from the College of Alberta Dental Assistants
  • Current student(s)
  • Alumni student(s)
  • Practicing dentist(s) from industry
  • Practicing dental assistant(s) from industry
  • Practicing dental hygienist(s) from industry

For more information…

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