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.

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

  • Registered Dental Assistant
  • Public Health Dental Assistant
  • Dental Specialty Assistant
  • Dental Assistant Educator
  • Denturist Assistant

Dental Assistant

If you choose not to become a Registered Dental Assistant, you will still be able to pursue many other employment opportunities, such as:

  • 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

A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Dental Assistants Association (Salary and Benefits Survey 2013) indicated that the median wage for Dental Assistants working in General Practice in Alberta was $28.00/hour.

And according to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (ALIS Alberta), Albertans in this occupational group earned an average of $26.99/hour with a median starting wage of $23.00/hour.

Dental Assistant Program

Graduation/Employment Success

2012 – 2013: 94% Graduation Rate
2012 – 2013: 100% 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 100% of our Dental Assistant Professional graduates passed the NDAEB exam in September 2013 with an overall average 15% higher than the passing score.


The Dental Assistant Professional Program is designed to provide you with the skills, technical knowledge, and clinical experience that is 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.

Learn more about Columbia

In A Nutshell click

Program Description

    Dental Assistant Program

  • 30 week program of intensive training and education. An accelerated program! Finish quickly and be out earning a salary!
  • Students will be in classes mostly ½ days, and be out on practicum for 6-8 hours a week for a minimum total of 148 hours.
  • Classes during the day – varying hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Ratio of facilitator to student in clinic is 1:6.
  • Career and employment support
  • Clinic/Lab classes are delivered in 2 shifts. AM and PM shifts will alternate for all students every other week.

Our practicum model is unique!

Columbia College offers a unique practicum experience where you apply what you learn to a number of practicum opportunities throughout the program. Generally, you attend school for approximately half of the day and are able to go out on practicum during the week.

During semesters 1-3 students will engage in classroom based activities to prepare them for their practicum in a Dental Office.Students will participate in the practicum portion of the program beginning in Semester 4 for 6-8 hours per week, while engaged in their formal education in theoretical and clinical components of the program, and will complete an additional 2 weeks full-time at the end of the program. (for a combined minimum total of 148 contact hours)

The advantage to this practicum model is that you will become very familiar with ALL aspects of the dental practice and well trained in all areas upon graduating from the program. You will have a better understanding of the dental office and will foster a more professional approach upon graduation. The advantage to the dental office in accepting the student for this type of practicum placement is that the office has now trained the student in all areas and spent 15 weeks with the student. For the student this is an important advantage for securing employment as trained dental professional.

Admission Requirements

  • High school diploma is not required. Apply as a mature student.
  • All applicants must achieve satisfactory results on the Columbia College Assessment in Reading Comprehension and Writing.
  • 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.

  • CPR Level HCP (Health Care Provider) – Students are able to take this training during Dental Program Orientation – 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.
  • Note: Immunization (Hepatitis B and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)) – Verification from health professional before the start of clinic in week 4 of the program.

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 tuition-free upgrading courses. See Bridging Programs/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.
  • 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.

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
A student may incur additional fees that are not part of the tuition or the book fees for this program. These fees are an approximation.

Uniforms/scrubs: $300
Protective eyewear: $100-$500
Footwear: $100
CPR Level HCP: $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.

Start Dates

March 16, 2015
September 8, 2015

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 all course credits by achieving a passing grade in all 16 courses, achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, achieve a passing grade on all summary tests and final exams, demonstrate competency in all clinical and lab skills.

Licensure Requirements

Registration for dental assistants is mandatory in Alberta. CADA (College of Alberta Dental Assistants) 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 as a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) are as follows:

  • Successfully complete a formal education program (including practicum).
  • Apply for Provisional Registration (a permit to practice after graduation*):
    • Complete the Application form.
    • Pay the required application fee and membership/licensure fees to the CADA.
    • Submit proof of current Health Care Provider CPR certification.
  • 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.

* Graduates can expect an approximate time of 1-2 weeks after completion of practicum for confirmation from the CADA that provisional registration is in effect before starting to work as a dental assistant.

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