North Central Michigan College has added a dental assistant program to its lineup of Fast Track career offerings. The nine-week program provides a comprehensive overview of all aspects of dental assisting, from clerical to clinical work.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to take dental radiographs, recognize dental equipment, gather patient health statistics, understand dental materials and be able to properly sterilize and process instruments. They will also be able to take impressions and pour up dental models, transfer instruments safely to the dentist or other provider, and will be familiar with dental terminology.

"We met with many local dentists to learn about what their needs are,” said Christy Lyons, North Central’s dean of Corporate and Community Education. “There is clearly a demand for dental assistants in the area. Many dental clinics are unable to take on new clients because they don't have enough assistants and hygienists.”

The program begins April 4 and includes 64 hours of in-person training and all materials and supplies. Grants and scholarships are available to offset—or in some cases cover—the $2,800 program cost. Classes meet weekly at Dental Clinics North in Gaylord. A 40-hour internship with a local dentist follows the class.

"Dental Clinics North has partnered with us to use their clinic in Gaylord for the training,” Lyons said. “We chose Gaylord for this training because it is centrally located and a reasonable drive from many areas. Rico Breznau, MA, RDH, RDA, CDA, from Dental Clinics North will be our instructor for the class. She has put together a comprehensive, hands-on curriculum."

The demand for dental professionals is constant, and opportunities for professional growth within the dental setting are abundant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 11 percent through 2030—faster than the average for all occupations—with a median annual wage of $41,180.

"Dental assistants are an invaluable part of the team,” said Dr. Susan Malone, a dentist who has been practicing in the Petoskey area for 39 years. “Dental assistants can do a lot in the office. They make a huge difference in the way the work in the office flows, and they help reduce stress for the patient.”

The Fast Track Dental Assistant program gives students the basic skills to build upon for a successful dental career. The course will provide students with all the information on how to apply for the Dental Assisting National Boards National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) examination or Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination for certification. Once students have gained clinical experience and the required in-person hours, they will be prepared for the National Dental Assistants Board exam for certification.

The program is the 12th Fast Track offering added to North Centrals lineup of courses aimed at allowing individuals to upskill or reskill quickly for in-demand careers.  For more information about North Central Michigan Colleges Fast Track career programs, visit