DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Exam

To become a nationally certified dental assistant, a person may choose to complete the DANB CDA Exam. In many states, and with organizations such as the U.S. Air Force, the exam is required for a dental assistant to go to work. The test often provides a professional edge when searching for a dental assistant job because it gives candidates higher earning potential and offers chances for career advancement.

The CDA Exam consists of three separate tests:

  • General Chairside Assisting (GC)
  • Radiation Health and Safety (RHS)
  • Infection Control exam (ICE)

Candidates may choose how they wish to take the CDA exam.

  • All three components may be taken on the same testing day, or candidates may take the RHS and ICE tests at the same test administration.
  • DANB does also allow test-takers to take each component exam separately, but all components must be completed successfully within five years.

Passage of the CDA Exam earns a dental assistant national certification in the dental assistant field. When test candidates pass the RHS and ICE competency exams, they demonstrate that they possess a high level of knowledge necessary to help keep patients healthy and safe. Dental assistants may earn Certificates of Competency for passing these component tests. According to the 2010 DANB National Exam Applications and Candidate Guide, 38 State Boards of Dentists and various other state dental regulatory agencies recognize DANB Certification and the exams a dental assistant must take to earn a Certificate of Competency.

Candidates do not have to meet any eligibility requirements to take the RHS and ICE tests. Those who wish to take the full CDA exam or just the GC test must have done one of the following: graduate from a dental assisting program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA); have at least 3,500 hours of work experience as a dental assistant during a two- to four-year time frame; or be a current or former DANB CDA, a graduate of a foreign dental degree program, or a graduate of a CODA-accredited DDS or DMD program. Regardless of the standard they meet to take the full or CG portion of the exam, candidates must also have appropriate CPR certification.

As you decide how and when to take the CDA exam, keep a few particulars in mind. Taking the full CDA exam in one day is the most cost-efficient testing option. The individual component exams are not all priced the same, and the RHS/ICE testing combination is another price as well. Once candidates have applied for and been approved to take the CDA exam, they will receive from DANB a Test Admission Notice, which contains necessary information to schedule an exam date. Be sure your Test Admission Notice is accurate, with correct spelling and the right exam. If the name on a person’s ID does not match the Test Admission Notice, he or she will not be allowed to take the exam.


Last Updated: 05/05/2014


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