Best Dental Assistant Schools in Washington – 2024

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

Washington dental assistants enjoy a broad scope of practice. The only training you’ll need to begin working at an entry-level dental assisting job is a state-mandated HIV/AIDS class. In addition to chair-side support services, these dental assistants can give fluoride treatments, do coronal polishing and even perform X-rays so long as they’re under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. Under close supervision, dental assistants can even carve, polish and finish restorations, and take dental impressions that can be used in the creation of crowns and bridges.

The Washington State Department of Health also recognizes an expanded function dental auxiliary (EFDA.) In order to qualify for this designation, you’ll need to be a graduate of an accredited dental assisting training program. In today’s competitive health care job market, prospective employers often give preference to the most qualified candidates. We’ve put together a list of the best dental assistant schools in Washington to help you keep your competitive edge.

Things to Keep in Mind While Selecting a Dental Assistant School in the State of WA?

Choosing a dental assistant program in WA, that’s right for your career goals will typically depend upon two factors: the amount of money you can afford to spend on your education and the length of time you can devote to it.

Another important consideration, though, is the way a program integrates clinical learning opportunities into classroom learning. Whether you pursue certificate/diploma training or an associate degree in Washington, your dental assistant education will have three components: classroom lectures, skills labs, and clinical rotations. In a two-year associate degree program, your first year may be dedicated to basic science classes such as biology, anatomy and physiology while your second year will focus on courses such as dental pharmacology and dental materials that track more closely with what you’ll be doing in your chosen career. Certificate/diploma training programs compress classroom learning into a shorter period of time and so, are likely to focus mostly on technical classes.

Both certificate/diploma and associate degree programs offer skills labs and clinical rotations as well. A really good school will be one in which skills labs fit seamlessly into classroom curricula so that students understand the clinical significance of the didactic materials they’re studying.

Dental Assistant Program Length & Cost in Washington

A Washington State certificate/diploma training program in dental assisting will last between 6 and 15 months and set you back between $2,380 and $27,860. A two-year associate degree program will cost between $6,970 and $42,650. Community college programs are generally priced more affordably than training programs at technical colleges.

Type of Program Length Cost
Certificate / Diploma6 – 15 Months$2,380 - $27,860
Associate Degree2 Years$6,970 - $42,650


(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 10 best dental assistant programs in Washington. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)

1. Pima Medical Institute, Renton & Seattle

2. South Puget Sound Community College, Olympia

3. Charter College, Fife, Pasco & Vancouver

4. Bellingham Technical College, Bellingham

5. Renton Technical College, Renton

6. Bates Technical College, Tacoma

7. Spokane Community College, Spokane

Associate Degree:

8. Carrington College, Spokane

9. Clover Park Technical College, Lakewood

10. Yakima Valley College, Yakima


Dental Assistant Career Information For Washington - 2024

How Many Dental Assistants are Currently Employed in WA?


Where are Dental Assistants Currently Working in Washington?

Washington state law requires dental assistants to work under the supervision of a licensed dentist. That means the greatest number of dental assistants employed in the Evergreen State—10,320 in number—are employed in dentists’ offices. Job responsibilities may vary according to the type of office. Dental assistants affiliated with a solo practice are likely to do a little of everything while dental assistants who work for dentist group practices are likely to branch out into a specialty.

Another 200 dental assistants work alongside dentists at government-sponsored community clinics. An additional 200 dental assistants work directly with physicians where their services are given to a patient with special needs.

IndustryNumber of Dental Assistants
Offices of Dentists10,320
Outpatient Care Centers200
Offices of Physicians200

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

Dental assists in the Evergreen State are well compensated. The average dental assistant salary in Washington is $50,430 annually. Dental assistants who work 36 hours a week or more will usually receive benefits such as health insurance and paid time off, which add additional value to their compensation packages.

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) $17.86 $3,100 $37,140
1-4 years $21.67 $3,760 $45,070
5-9 years $23.71 $4,110 $49,320
10-19 years $26.86 $4,660 $55,870
20 years or more $29.16 $5,050 $60,650
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Dental Assistant Average Salary Comparison: Washington vs. National

On average, dental assistants in Washington make nearly 12 percent over the national average. Even in less affluent parts of the state, dental assistants do well financially, which indicates that their skills are prized.

Washington National Difference
Number %
$50,430 $44,710+$5,720+12.79%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Job Outlook

The number of dental assisting jobs available for dental assistants in the Evergreen State is primed to grow by nearly 33 percent by the year 2030. Seattle’s economy is booming and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. These prosperous professionals can afford to pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with dental services. Washington is currently considering bills in its state legislature that would create a new category of service provider called dental therapists. If mandated, dental therapists will be able to provide restorative dental services that may call for chair-side support from dental therapists.

Employment Employment Growth (2020-2030)
2020 2030 Number Percent
(Source: careeronestop)

Annual Job Openings

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

Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data

Thanks to big tech, the Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue metropolitan area is one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation in economic terms. While pockets of poverty still persist, people here are prosperous for the most part, and prosperous people tend to be high utilizers of dentistry services for both cosmetic and preventative reasons. A little more than half the Evergreen State’s dental assistants work in these three cities, and their average salary is higher than the state and national averages.

Cities in the eastern part of the state such as Walla Walla, Kennewick and Yakima are less affluent than the cities on the Pacific Coast corridor. The numbers of dental assistants who work here reflect the respective population sizes of these cities, but the average salaries dental assistants make here are significantly less than their coastal counterparts though still on a par with the national average.

Metro Employment Average Salary
Hourly Monthly Annual
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 6,050 $25.64 $4,440 $53,330
Spokane-Spokane Valley 970 $21.58 $3,740 $44,890
Kennewick-Richland 480 $23.60 $4,090 $49,080
Olympia-Tumwater 470 $24.09 $4,180 $50,100
Bremerton-Silverdale 450 $23.53 $4,080 $48,950
Yakima 440 $20.92 $3,630 $43,520
Bellingham 290 $22.59 $3,920 $46,990
Mount Vernon-Anacortes 200 $23.20 $4,020 $48,250
Wenatchee 190 $22.55 $3,910 $46,900
Longview 160 $22.75 $3,940 $47,320
Walla Walla 70 $21.38 $3,710 $44,460
(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.

Dental Assisting Schools in other States

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas