Dental Assisting

A student in scrubs wears goggles and cleans a mannequin's teeth in the dental lab on the Peosta campus.

Dental Assisting

Subject Area: Health Sciences

Award: Diploma

Minimum Credits: 45.25

Location: Peosta

Entry: Fall


The Dental Assisting curriculum is career-oriented. It prepares the student, as a member of the dental health team, to assist the dentist in all phases of dentistry. The program includes chairside procedures associated with general and specialty dentistry, radiology, laboratory and business office assistance. Clinical experience is an integral part of the educational program with rotations through various dental facilities.

CODA LogoThe program in Dental Assisting is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of "approval without reporting requirements." The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at 312.440.4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission's web address is

Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible to take the Iowa Dental Board state registration exams to become a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA). Graduates are also eligible to take examinations prepared by the Dental Assisting National Board to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).

Graduates have the flexibility of being employable nationwide. Dental assisting offers some of the most ideal working conditions and attractive hours of any of the health professions, while demanding a high degree of interaction between staff and patient.

Admissions Requirements
  1. Apply for admission.
  2. Submit official high school, high school equivalency and/or college transcripts to the Admissions Office of the campus you plan to attend.
  3. Complete ACCUPLACER® reading and writing assessment. Testing may be waived based on previous college coursework or submission of valid ACT®, ACT Compass® or ALEKS® test scores. Scores are valid for three years.

In addition to the College admission procedures outlined, applicants must be a high school graduate or equivalent and achieve a minimum ACCUPLACER® reading score of 70. ACT® or ACT Compass® scores are also acceptable.

Program Requirements: The College has contracted the services of CastleBranch to review and monitor background checks, health records, training requirements and drug testing. Students will submit the following documentation to their website prior to the designated date:

  • Background check - includes a nationwide criminal history search and child, dependent adult and sex offender registry checks. Background checks will be evaluated per the College's Background Check policy. Clinical participation is dependent on this evaluation.
  • Health records - physical and immunizations (MMR, varicella, Hepatitis B, 2 step TB, Tdap and influenza).
  • Training - CPR (American Heart Association Health Care Provider or American Red Cross Professional Rescuer), mandatory reporter of child and dependent adult abuse and HIPAA training.
  • Drug testing - prior to clinical participation, random, post incident/accident and suspicion. Students are required to be substance free throughout the program.
  • Health insurance - students are required to maintain health insurance throughout the program.

In addition to meeting the above listed requirements, students must maintain these requirements throughout the program. Failure to remain compliant will result in denial for clinical participation. Clinical participation is required for program completion.

Academic Requirements

View the printable Ed Plan.

Term 1
DEA:203 Applied Anatomy and Physiology OR 1.5
* Science Elective 1.5
DEA:250 Dental Science 4.5
DEA:310 Dental Radiography I 2.25
DEA:410 Dental Materials I 1.5
DEA:511 Principles of Dental Assisting 5.25
SDV:179 The College Experience 3.0


Term 2
DEA:261 Dental Science II 2.25
DEA:321 Dental Radiography II 2.0
DEA:418 Dental Materials II 3.0
DEA:570 Dental Clinic Internship 1.5
DA:571 Dental Externship I 1.75
DEA:601 Dental Specialties 4.75
PSY:111 Intro to Psychology OR 3.0
PSY:112 Psychology of Human Relations 3.0


Term 3
DEA:563 Dental Externship II 4.0
DEA:704 Dental Office Procedures 2.0
* Communication Elective 3.0


Communication Electives: COM:723, ENG:105, SPC:112
Science Electives:  BIO:157; or BIO:158; or BIO:165 and BIO:170

Note: To graduate from this program, students must complete all required coursework with a "C-" grade or above and earn a minimum 2.0 grade point average. Students may be required to take some courses on an online or hybrid format.

Employment Information

With an annual income range of $27,736 - 35,249 and a projected growth of 9.2%, the career outlook for Dental Assisting graduates is growing.

Source: EMSI; Salary range represents 10th percentile - median annual wage for related occupations in the NICC district. Growth rate based on projections from 2016-2020.

View Gainful Employment information for this program.

Employers of NICC Alumni

Abbadent Family Dental Center, Dubuque, IA
Aspen Dental, Dubuque, IA
Bierie Dental, Dubuque, IA
Cascade Dental Center, Cascade, IA
Center Point Family Dentistry, Center Point, IA
Cheung Pediatric Dentistry
Crescent Community Health Center, Dubuque, IA
D'Agostino Family Dentistry, Maquoketa, IA
Dr. Iglehard, Davenport, IA
Dr. Jean Treder, Coralville, IA
Dr. Kim Kissell, Epworth, IA
Dr. Michael Warner, Anamosa, IA
Dr. Robin Briggs, Dubuque, IA
Dr. Valerie Peckosh, Dubuque, IA
Dubuque Endodontic Practice, Dubuque, IA
Duehr and Hoelscher, Dubuque, IA
Elite Dental, Dyersville, IA
Exceptional Dentistry, Dubuque, IA
Great River Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Dubuque, IA
Farley Dental Center, Farley, IA
Kane Family Dentistry, Dubuque, IA
Kramer Family Dentistry, Dubuque, IA
Kuttler Dental Team, Dubuque, IA
Lattner Prostodontics & Family Dentistry, Dubuque, IA
Longworthy Dental Group, Dubuque, IA
Lundell and Hoy Dentistry, Dubuque, IA
Manchester Dental, Manchester, IA
Midwest Dental, Dubuque, IA
Peosta Dental, Peosta, IA
Rockdale Dental Center, Dubuque, IA
Schultz Family Dentistry, Dubuque, IA
Smiles on Main, Maquoketa, IA
Windsor Hills Family Dentistry, Dubuque, IA
Wertz and Wertz Dental, Dubuque, IA

For additional job titles, visit O-Net.

Additional Information

Students will have the opportunity to become student members of the American Dental Assistants Association, which also provides membership in the Iowa Dental Assistants Association and the Dubuque District Dental Assistants Society.

Northeast Iowa Community College is committed to protecting the health of students, staff, visitors and patients. Any person enrolled in a healthcare program with a clinical component may be exposed to environmental hazards and blood and body fluids. NICC complies with all OSHA standards and follows CDC Guidelines for Standard Precautions during all patient contact.

Dental Assisting students have the opportunity to put learned skills into practice under the direction of volunteer dentists and NICC faculty in the dental assisting clinic, which provides services to referred patients.


Laura Menke
Dean of Allied Health
563.556.5110, ext. 498