If you have an interest in breaking into the dentistry field but are unsure if you have the time, background, or resources it takes to train to be a dentist or hygienist, you may still find that an entry-level dental assistant position is still well within your reach.
But, what if you have a criminal record or have spent time in jail for a felony? Is it still possible to follow a passion for helping people look and feel better by working within the dentistry field? This blog post will answer the common question of whether you can become a dental assistant with a felony on your record?
While criminal records can no doubt make securing professional employment more difficult, this goal is certainly still possible. And, if your desire is to train for a career as a dental assistant, it is also possible to enroll in the Dental Assistant Program, which in addition to hands-on training and education, offers career placement services for graduates with a variety of backgrounds.
Let’s look a little deeper into this topic and learn how someone with a felony on their record can still seek a fulfilling career as a dental assistant.
Can You Become a Dental Assistant with a Felony?
Yes, you can become a dental assistant even if you have a felony on your record. In fact, most states do not deny those who have been incarcerated or who have been convicted of a felony to seek training and employment as a dental assistant. That said, individuals who apply to become a registered dental assistant will have to disclose past convictions, but having a felony does not automatically disqualify a person from becoming a registered dental assistant.
That said, even though you may be able to obtain the training to become a dental assistant even with a felony on your record, you may find it somewhat difficult to obtain employment with a felony on your permanent record.
The first challenge is seeking the education, hands-on training, and experience you need to enter the dental assisting field in the first place. Whether it’s a community college, career college, or vocational institution, every school has its own set of admission requirements, some of which may exclude those with felony convictions.
Incidentally, UEI College has no such restrictions. Our admissions team takes a non-judgmental approach to the application process and operates under a firm belief that everyone deserves a second chance. Under this philosophy, the UEI team considers potential students on a case-by-case basis.
The next hurdle, of course, is finding the ideal entry-level position following graduation. As anyone with a criminal record likely knows, a felony conviction is a non-starter for some employers. However, many others may be willing to look beyond past mistakes and, instead, focus on education, abilities, skills, work ethic, personal references, and one’s general desire to turn their life around.
In this case, it remains critical your academic record is one that stands out above others. By showing you took your educational journey seriously both through grade-point average and leadership in the classroom – and by earning positive references from faculty, instructors, and even dentistry professionals you worked with during your externship term – you may overcome some employment concerns and earn the foot in the door you seek.
What is a Dental Assistant & What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
In short, a dental assistant serves as a key member of a dentistry practice’s team, one who exists to help improve the quality and efficiency of the clinic both administratively at the front of the office and clinically in the exam room.
A typical day for a dental assistant may include front-office work, such as greeting patients, scheduling appointments, and updating medical records. It may also involve back-office assistance with tasks like preparing exam rooms, sterilizing tools and equipment, taking X-rays, preparing for dental procedures such as fillings and crowns, and general chairside assisting.
As most states require no special certifications or registrations in order to perform these tasks, medical assistant training tends to take months, not years, offering a quicker path toward an entry-level career in the dentistry field.
If you’re interested in learning more about what dental assistants do, click here to learn about what dental assistants do.
Can I Become a Certified or Registered Dental Assistant with a Felony Conviction?
If you have a criminal history or have been convicted of a felony, your ability to become credentialed as either a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) or a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
That said, it’s important to remember that neither credential is required in order to work as a dental assistant in most states. Here’s a little background:
The California Board of Dental Assistants oversees the testing and certifications for individuals seeking to earn both RDA and CDA designations. The CDB requires all applicants to disclose past convictions and they review each case on a case by case basis. So, although a felony does not automatically prevent someone from becoming an RDA, it can depending on the circumstances of the conviction. The California Dental Board states that the number of convictions, date of convictions, severity of the crime, and any mitigating circumstances are taken into account when assessing whether a conviction will prevent someone from becoming an RDA.
Again, most states including California, do not require these certifications in order to earn a career as a dental assistant. However, current and up-and-coming dental assistants will often work toward these designations to stand out to potential employers and possibly increase their earning potential.
UEI College Believes in Second Chances. What Does This Mean?
At UEI College, we believe diversity is our strength, and this doesn’t simply include race, ethnicity and gender. The fact our students come from a variety of backgrounds – including those who have made mistakes and missteps in their lives – is a source of great pride for us.
Why is this? Because we also believe everyone has something great to offer. Some people simply just need to be given a chance – to be given the support, respect, motivation, and the forum – to realize their potential for greatness.
Here at UEI, giving people a chance to improve their lives through education and career training is at the heart of what we do and why we exist. It’s why even if you’ve spent time in jail or have been convicted of a crime, we still welcome you to come to see us and learn how UEI College might help you maintain a more positive, productive, and successful path in life.
We want to do our part at UEI College to help break this connectivity – to help people with our communities build attainable dreams, career aspirations, and personal dignity, regardless of background or regrettable mistakes.
How Do I Learn More about Applying for UEI College?
Those interested in learning more about UEI College and our application and enrollment process may call admissions, fill out an online form, or simply drop into your local campus to meet an admissions representative. Our application process is simple and fully supported by an admissions team trained to guide applicants every step in the way.
From touring the campus and choosing a program to applying for school, and exploring financial aid options, our admission team is there to make the college admissions process as seamless, simple, and stress-free as possible. Learn more on the UEI College Admissions page.
If you want to become a Dental Assistant, consider enrolling in UEI College’s Dental Assisting Program. The program is short term, allowing you to earn a Dental Assistant Diploma in as few as 10 months!