Career Roadmap

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Dental Assistant

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High School

Anytime 9-12th Grade

  • Take communications courses, such as speech and English, and science courses.
  • Find out everything you can about being a dental assistant. Start here.
  • Take career interest surveys.
  • Learn hobbies that focus on using your hands (fine motor skills), such as art, knitting, woodworking, playing musical instruments, etc.
  • Explore dental assistant programs at technical colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities.
  • Shadow a dental assistant. Sample letter.
  • Talk with your school counselor about your career interests and related courses offered at your high school.

12th Grade

  • Visit schools that interest you and go to information sessions.
  • Apply at a college or university for your selected program.
  • Join a professional dental assistants association, such as ADAA.
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College

  • Complete your associate’s degree or licensure program as required.
  • Access your college’s career placement resources to locate job opportunities.
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Career

Continuing Education:

Minnesota state licensure requires dental assistants to complete 25 credits of continuing education every two years. See ADAA’s continuing education website.

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Advanced Opportunities

While many dental assistants have extremely rewarding, lifetime careers, there are advancement opportunities, including:

  • Dental Assisting Instructors
  • Dental Hygiene (A dental assistant licensure is a common prerequisite for dental hygiene programs.)
  • Public Health
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Dental Hygienist

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High School

Anytime 9-12th Grade

11th Grade

12th Grade

  • Apply to college
  • Learn what dental hygiene prerequisite courses are required by the dental hygiene program you plan to apply to. Plan to take those courses your freshman year of college.
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College

Associate Degree Programs: Please see your selected college.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene program at the University of Minnesota

  • Freshman year: Take dental hygiene pre-requisite courses and apply to the dental hygiene program.
  • 2nd and 3rd Years: Complete dental hygiene courses and clinical experience with patients. At the end, you’ll take the clinical licensure exam.

The dental hygiene program at the University of Minnesota offers an accelerated year-round curriculum so students can earn their baccalaureate degree in three years instead of four.

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Career

Dental hygienists are required to complete 25 hours of continuing education every two years.

Explore some continuing education courses, which may include Patient Communication, Management and Treatment of Patients with Special Needs, or Record Keeping.

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Advanced Opportunities

After completing a bachelor degree in dental hygiene, you can pursue advanced education and training in graduate school specializing in:

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Dental Lab Tech.

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High School

Anytime 9-12th Grade

  • Take math, science, metal, woodshop, drafting, and art courses, such as sculpting and painting.
  • Find out everything you can about dental laboratory technician careers. Start here.
  • Take career interest surveys.
  • Learn hobbies that focus on eye-hand coordination and dexterity, such as art, knitting, woodworking, playing musical instruments, etc.
  • Shadow a dental laboratory technician. Sample letter of interest.
  • Talk with your school counselor about your career interests and related courses offered at your high school.
  • If you want to eventually operate your own laboratory, take courses in management and business.

12th Grade

After Graduation

  • Apply for job openings for entry-level dental laboratory technicians.
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Career

In Minnesota, most education and training for dental lab technicians is ‘on-the-job.’ New employees will typically focus on one area, such as orthodontics, crowns and bridges, ceramics, partial dentures, or complete dentures. After a certain amount of time and experience, dental lab technicians can become certified and work more independently. Learn more.

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Advanced Opportunities

Experienced dental lab technicians can become supervisors, business managers, or they can open their own dental lab businesses.

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Dental Therapist

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High School

Anytime 9-12th Grade

  • Take advanced math and science courses.
  • Find out everything you can about being a dental therapist. Start here.
  • Take career interest surveys.
  • Learn hobbies that focus on eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills, such as art, knitting, woodworking, playing musical instruments, etc.
  • Explore dental therapy programs at colleges and Universities.
  • If available, shadow a dental therapist. Alternatively, shadow a dentist or dental hygienist. Sample letter of interest.
  • Talk with your school counselor about your career interests and courses offered at your high school.

11th Grade

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College

Basic Dental Therapist (University of Minnesota)

Freshman Year

  • Complete prerequisite courses
  • Apply for admission to Dental Therapy program
    • Year 1: White coat ceremony and didactic courses
    • Year 2: Clinical and patient care
    • Year 3: Patient care; Outreach; and Board exam
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Career

Dental therapists are required to earn 75 continuing dental education credits every three years. The courses include electives, infection control, and OSHA requirements and policies.

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Advanced Opportunities

  • A dental therapist may choose to go into a public health field.
  • Advanced dental therapists have additional training, and can provide care to patients without a dentist present. An additional service that an advanced dental therapist can provide is the extraction of permanent teeth (under certain conditions).
    • To become an advanced dental therapist, you must become licensed as a dental therapist, work at least 2,000 hours as a general dental therapist, complete an approved advanced dental therapy education program, and pass a certification examination.
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Dentist

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High School

Anytime 9-12th Grade

  • Take advanced math and science courses.
  • Find out everything you can about being a dentist. Start here.
  • Take career interest surveys.
  • Learn hobbies that focus on using your hands and eye-hand coordination, such as art, knitting, woodworking, playing musical instruments, athletics, etc.
  • To explore careers in dentistry, volunteer in your dentist’s office, a local dental community center, or in community programs, such as Saturday Academy.
  • Explore dentistry programs at colleges and universities.
  • Shadow a dentist. Sample letter of interest.
  • Talk with your school counselor about your career interests and courses offered at your high school.

11th - 12th Grade

  • Consider taking college-level math and science courses, if available.
  • Take standard college entrance tests (ACT, SAT, etc.) and other required exams for the bachelor degree program you choose.
  • Join student dentistry associations, such as ASDA or the Pre-Dental Club.
  • Visit schools that interest you and go to information sessions.
  • Attend dental school preparation programs.
  • Apply at a college or university for your bachelor program.
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Pre-Dentistry

College: Pre-Dentistry

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Dental School

College: Dentistry (University of Minnesota program)

  • 1st Year: White coat ceremony and didactic classes
  • 2nd Year: Dental Board Exam Part I
  • 3rd Year: Dental Board Exam Part II
  • 4th Year: Outreach experience and licensing exam
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Career

Continuing Education

Dentists are required to earn 75 continuing dental education credits every three years. The courses include electives, infection control, and OSHA requirements and policies. View example continuing education courses.

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