Dental Assisting

Female dental technician working with equipment on practice manikin.


A dental assistant is an important member of an efficient dental team—providing valuable service to both the office and the patient. An assistant anticipates the needs of a dentist and aids in intraoral procedures, takes x-rays, prepares lab work, is responsible for disinfection/sterilization protocols, and can also perform office administration duties.

Elgin Community College’s dental assisting program is comprised of three certificates completed in three semesters, each of which prepares you for an active role in dentistry through classroom, laboratory, and hands-on experiences in modern, high-tech facilities where highly experienced dental professionals teach and supervise all on- and off-campus activities.

Dental Office Aide

ECC's dental office aide program is the first of three dental assisting semesters. It can be taken alone, culminating in a Basic Vocational Specialist certificate, or the coursework can be integrated within the clinical dental assisting certificate program. These first semester courses establish a strong foundation for dental assistants including dental anatomy, aseptic techniques, materials and chairside assisting. These courses may also be of interest to students who wish to learn more about other careers in dentistry.

Preclinical Dental Assisting

ECC’s preclinical dental assisting program is the second of three dental assisting semesters. It can be taken after the completion of first semester, culminating in a Basic Vocational Specialist certificate, or the coursework can be integrated within the clinical dental assisting certificate program. Preclinical dental assisting builds on the dental office aide certificate by continuing your education with advanced courses in chairside assisting and dental materials, as well as additional courses in dental radiography as well as dental records and communication. Preclinical dental assisting is the pre-requisite to Vocational Specialist certificate in clinical dental assisting.

Clinical Dental Assisting

The third and final semester of the Vocational Specialist certificate in clinical dental assisting focuses on hands-on practical experience gained through placement in an Elgin-area general practice and specialty dental office. Students acquire 336 clinical hours during this semester to complete the program. During or after this semester, you are able to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) examination to become a certified dental assistant (CDA). This certification is recognized throughout the country as a high level of professional competence.

Additional education options

All dental assisting classes can be used as electives for a transfer degree.

In addition, students and currently employed dental assistants are eligible take the DEA 113 Special Projects course for expanded training in coronal polishing and pit and fissure sealants.


The ECC Dental Assisting Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), American Dental Association (ADA), 211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1900, Chicago, IL 60611-2678,

Program Highlights

Prepare for Immediate Employment

Vocational Certificate

Basic Certificate

Planning to Transfer

Learn more about earning a Bachelor’s degree, earning summer credits for transfer or dual admissions with a university by visiting University Transfer & Partnerships.

News & Announcements


50th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Return to the ECC main campus and visit with program alumni, faculty, staff and colleagues from the dental community. Enjoy a brief program, tour the educational facilities, and reminisce with the help of historic photos from our archives.

To learn more, please contact the ECC Foundation at 847-214-7377 or