Best Dental Assistant Schools in Arizona – 2023

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

As a dental assistant in Arizona, your responsibilities may include everything from ordering supplies to taking dental impressions to teaching patients the oral hygiene routines they’ll need to perform at home in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums. You’ll be the go-to person in your dental office! For some procedures such as X-rays and coronal polishing procedures, you’ll need to attain additional certifications from the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners. We’ve compiled this list of the best dental assistant programs in Arizona to help you get started with this dynamic career path.

What Skills and Knowledge Will I Gain from a Dental Assisting Program?

Communication and listening skills are key in the dental assisting field. Not only will you need to deal effectively with the dentist whom you’re assisting, but you’ll also be interacting with patients who are likely to feel stressed. The classes you take at will teach you how to communicate as well as how to focus on details since the chair-side protocols you’ll be following as a dental assistant will be very specific.

Your curriculum will vary according to whether you’re in a one-year or two-year program. Both programs at dental assistant schools in AZ include classroom and clinical instruction, but two-year programs will include some fundamental science as well as specific technical skills whereas one-year programs will focus on technical skills alone. Your technical classes will include subjects like chair-side assisting, biodental science and dental materials. Since you’ll probably be spending time working in the office, you’ll also take a few classes in basic office administration skills.

Dental Assistant Program Length & Cost in Arizona

As noted above, there are two types of dental assisting programs in the Grand Canyon State: associate degree programs and programs that lead to a certificate or a diploma. The former takes two years to complete while the latter takes 6 to 15 months. At a community college, you’re likely to spend $2,130 attaining a certificate or $6,250 attaining an associate degree. At a technical college, you may spend as much as $24,950 attaining a certificate and as much as $38,200 attaining an associate degree.

Type of Program Length Cost
Certificate / Diploma6 – 15 Months$2,130 - $24,950
Associate Degree2 Years$6,250 - $38,200


(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 5 best dental assistant programs in Arizona. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)

1) Carrington College, Mesa, Phoenix & Tucson

Carrington College leaves no stone unturned in supporting dental assisting students achieve their career goals. From financial aid to tutoring, from excellent clinical experiences to career services, you will be guided all along. Moreover, with three locations in the state, you can pursue a dental assisting course at Carrington closer to home.

Just like most colleges, Carrington too offers a certificate and associate degree. While the former trains you for entry level dental assistant positions at a dentist’s office, the latter expands your knowledge by including courses in communication skills, computer literacy, science, math and social sciences. The technical coursework for both the programs typically focuses on developing clinical, administrative and lab skills that are required in assisting a dentist during various dental procedures.

2) Brookline College, Phoenix & Tempe

Brookline College with its low student to faculty ratio provides for individualized learning. Moreover, you study under a faculty that bring their excellent credentials and experience to the table.

This dental assistant program in AZ is a 10-month diploma that offers only day classes and trains you in anatomy, dental specialties, preventive dentistry, dental radiography, dental materials, lab procedures and dental office administration. Towards the end of your training, you will apply the knowledge you have gained in a 180- hour externship at a dentist’s office. This experience will help you develop confidence and skills even before you land your first job. Upon graduation you will be eligible to take the certified dental assistant exam, the exam for state certification for radiation health and safety and the coronal polishing certificate exam. On successfully passing these exams you will greatly widen your career prospects.

3) Phoenix College, Phoenix

Dental assistant career in Arizona has seen tremendous growth in recent times. To meet this rising demand, Phoenix College, equipped with an experienced faculty provides education that is job ready and relevant.

You can choose to complete this dental assisting training program by opting for either the certificate (34.5-42 credits) or associate degree program (60 credits). While both the programs focus on entry level dental assisting skills, the associate, additionally includes courses in liberal arts that give you a well-rounded education. To be eligible for admission, you must have completed a high school diploma or GED and hold an active CPR certification. Graduation requires you to pass all the courses with a minimum “C” grade.

4) Mohave Community College, Kingman

Mohave Community College offers a conducive learning environment to dental assisting students where they gain professional competence. Its state-of art clinical lab allows students to go through ample practice before they experience a clinical externship at local dental setting.

This dental assisting course is a two-semester certificate, offered in fall every year. With part-time and full-time options, you can choose the schedule that best matches your personal needs. The coursework is rigorous and fast paced, and it is strongly recommended that working students limit their work commitments during the duration of their training. In order to earn your certificate, you must complete 25 credits in courses such as dental sciences, infection control, dental radiography, clinical procedures, dental office management, knowledge of dental specialties and dental materials.

5) Pima Community College, Tucson

Pima Community College offers affordable education that lays emphasis on career training. It effectively serves students who are keen to pursue a career in the dental field by offering a number of dynamic dental programs.

To become a dental assistant in AZ, you can consider this certificate program that includes an extensive clinical experience of 336 hours at a local dentist’s office. The curriculum makes you proficient in biomedical dental science, oral radiography, dental materials, preventive dentistry, dental office procedures and front office duties such as administration and management at a dentist’s office. You must clear all these courses at least with a grade “C” in order to graduate. Upon completion of this program you will be eligible to take the national certification exam, Arizona oral radiology certification and coronal polishing certification.


Dental Assistant Career Information For Arizona - 2023

How Many Dental Assistants are Currently Employed in AZ?


Where are Dental Assistants Currently Working in Arizona?

Dental assistants are indispensable in dentists’ offices, and that’s where the greatest number of them (8,260) are employed in Arizona. You may find yourself working in a solo practice, a group practice or a specialty practice such as orthodontics, endodontics or pediatric dentistry. A handful of dental assistants (160) work for the government in dental clinics associated with community health clinics. An equal number of dental assistants work in physicians’ offices or in hospitals assisting dentists with the care of immobile patients.

Industry Number of Dental Assistants
Offices of Dentists8,260
Outpatient Care Centers160
Offices of Physicians160

What is the Average Salary of a Dental Assistant in Arizona?

The average dental assistant salary in Arizona is $44,610 a year. For most, dental assisting is a full-time job, which means assistants are eligible for benefits. Benefit packages will vary from dental practice to dental practice, but most include some form of health insurance and paid sick time. Another perk? Many dental assistants receive greatly reduced rates on dentistry services!

Type Salary
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salary Based on Years of Experience

Years of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Less than 1 year (Starting)$17.29$3,000$35,970
1-4 years$17.94$3,110$37,320
5-9 years$22.11$3,830$45,990
10-19 years$22.98$3,980$47,790
20 years or more$27.32$4,740$56,820
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Dental Assistant Average Salary Comparison: Arizona vs. National

Dental assistants in the Grand Canyon State make slightly less than the national average. This may be partially due to the fact that many retirees over 65 live in Arizona who understand that taking care of their teeth is an important part of staying healthy.

Arizona National Difference
Number %
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Job Outlook

In Arizona, the demand for dental assistants is expected to increase by nearly 42% by the year 2030. Right now, dentistry practices tend to be clustered in relatively affluent cities like Phoenix and Tucson, which leaves poorer communities in Santa Cruz, Pinal, Greenlee and Yuma counties underserved. In 2017, Arizona became the seventh state to legitimatize dental therapy as a profession. These dental therapists will only be allowed to practice on tribal reservations or in community health care agencies that serve low-income individuals. They’ll need chair-side assistance, so it seems probable that at least some of the projected increase in dental assistant numbers reflects this.

EmploymentEmployment Growth (2020-2030)
20202030 Number Percent
(Source: careeronestop)

Annual Job Openings

New Replacement Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: careeronestop)

Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data

By far, the largest numbers of dental assistants (6,610) work in the well-heeled communities that make up the Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale metropolitan area. Phoenix is an affluent city with a median income that’s significantly higher than other parts of the state. Phoenix is also the most populous city in Arizona; in fact, it’s the fifth-largest city in the U.S. Phoenix residents have money to spend on dentistry services that may not be covered by health care insurance. Dental assistants in Phoenix command higher salaries than they do in other parts of the Grand Canyon State.

The vacation towns of Lake Havasu and Prescott are the places in Arizona where dental assistants make the second-highest salaries. In Flagstaff, which is the slowest-growing city in the state and also the urban center with the highest concentration of poverty, dental assistants make considerably less than the state and national averages.

Metro Employment Average Salary
Hourly Monthly Annual
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 6,610 $21.93 $3,800 $45,620
Tucson 1,040 $20.52 $3,560 $42,680
Lake Havasu City-Kingman 320 $19.71 $3,420 $41,000
Prescott 240 $19.92 $3,450 $41,430
Flagstaff 160 $20.68 $3,580 $43,010
Yuma 130 $18.75 $3,250 $39,010
Sierra Vista-Douglas 80 $18.87 $3,270 $39,240
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.