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How to Launch and Grow your career

Become a Registered
Dental Assistant

What is a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) anyway?

An RDA is a dental assistant that has obtained essential skills and passed the state’s licensing exam which enables them to perform a wider variety of skills than an unregistered dental assistant.

These skills include coronal polishing, and pit & fissure sealants, among others.
To see a full comparison of duties, view the Dental Board of California’s pdf here

Becoming an RDA increases your earning potential and opens a wider range of job opportunities; which makes the extra time and money it takes to get registered worthwhile.

Typical Wage
Dental Assistant
Registered Dental Assistant

How to become an Registered Dental Assistant with Indigo

Indigo offers the most affordable and time effective path to a career as a Registered Dental Assistant.

Our method brings you into the workforce quickly and utilizes your work experience as a dental assistant to fulfill your RDA eligibility requirements. (see section 2b)

Requirements to maintain an RDA license vary from state to state, we’ll show you how you earn it in California.



Getting Started
Indigo Screening Interview

We want to get to know you and your goals to make sure we are the perfect fit for you.

Indigo Professionalism Course

Our in-depth online class on the importance of professionalism.


Dental Assistant Program

12 weeks

Your RDA path begins with Indigo’s rigorous 12-week Dental Assisting program.

This course is a carefully curated hybrid education that combines online classes with weekly in-person clinical sessions related to what you are learning in class.

The course focuses on the critical skills you’ll need to master from day 1.

You will master the following skills:

Dental Practice Act
Infection Control
Radiation Safety
Basic Life Support
Chair-side Assisting

Indigo Hack

Our 12-week program will land you in a job in half the time it would take to graduate from the typical career college program.

Upcoming Dental Assistant Classes

September 30, 2023
Class Full
November 4, 2023
Class Full


4 weeks

Students of Indigo’s Dental Assistant Program will receive on-the-job training in an externship at a local dental office within the Indigo Network.

In addition to practicing critical skills, the externship can lead to full-time employment or a recommendation that can help you land a job at another office in the Indigo Network.

Indigo Hack

Students who are employed before graduation can skip the externship step.

We have historically placed 9/10 of our students in a job before their graduation and they were able to skip the externship step.


Employment as a Dental Assistant

15 Months

Before taking the RDA exam, you must be employed as a dental assistant for a minimum of 15 months, working a total of 1,280 hours during that time.

Meaning that you must work 20 hours per week at minimum to be eligible. (see section 2b)

We view this step as a win-win because you will be employed as a California Dental Board Approved Dental Assistant, solidifying your skills with real-world experience, building a work history, and getting paid, all while accumulating the necessary work hours to advance your career.

And don’t forget, we guarantee to place you in a job within 6 months of graduating from the Dental Assistant Program, or we’ll reimburse half your tuition.

Most other programs are designed to keep you in class and paying tuition; we reject their method. We want to see you out in the workforce.

Indigo Hack

You can count the 12-week Dental Assistant Program and 4-week Externship toward the 15 month and 1,280 hour requirement.


RDA Capstone

Your Pre-Exam Requirements

The California Dental Board requires the successful completion of 2 additional training courses to prepare you for the next step of your career.

These final courses are provided through Indigo’s RDA Capstone Program; upon completion you will be prepared with the advanced skills required for the RDA exam.

Coronal Polishing (12 hour course)
Pit and Fissure Sealants (16 hour course)

Indigo Hack

Indigo students can take these courses at any point after they complete the Dental Assistant Program.

Your instructor will provide you with all the necessary details.


Apply to take the RDA Exam

How to apply and what to prepare

Prior to applying you must:

Complete the Live Fingerprint Scan form

LiveScan Form

Bring the form to a LiveScan service location

You will be charged a fee from the service location, costs vary between locations.
LiveScan Fingerprint Locations

Your fingerprints will be electronically sent to the California DOJ

The DOJ's report will be sent to the Dental Board of California within 7 days of receiving your fingerprints and form.

Include the following items with your application:

Completed RDA Examination Application, signed and dated

RDA Application

Certification of work experience totaling 15-months by your employer

Work Experience Form

Enclose certificates of Board-approved course completion in the following areas:

• Infection Control
• California Dental Practice Act
• Basic Life Support – CPR (AHA/ARC)
• Radiation Safety Certificate
• Coronal Polishing Certificate
• Pit & Fissure Sealants

Once your application has been successfully submitted to the Dental Board, you will be sent information on how to pay for and schedule your exam.

Indigo Hack

We will help ensure you have everything in order once it’s time to apply.


Take the RDA Exam

RDA General and Law and Ethics written examination

The final step in the process is to prepare and take the RDA exam.

You will be able to schedule the exam at a time that fits your schedule.

Your capstone instructor will provide you with the required forms and information to prepare for the exam. It’s important to know that the exam must be taken within 5 years of graduation from the Dental Assisting Program.

Once your application for the exam is confirmed you will receive a handbook from the Psychological Services Inc. (PSI) that will explain the content of the test in more depth.

Indigo Hack

Indigo has an industry-leading preparation course to help you pass the exam with flying colors.


Maintaining your License

You must renew your license every 2 years

To ensure all Registered Dental Assistants are up to date with the current technology and procedures, the California Dental Board requires renewal of your license every 2 years.

Primary requirements for renewal:
• Completed renewal transaction.
• Renewal payment of $100 to the Dental Board of California
• Satisfactory completion of 25 continuing education units
• Completed Dental Healthcare Workforce Survey

View a complete list of renewal requirements here

Indigo Hack

Indigo offers a variety of courses that count toward the 25 continuing education units.

We are here for you every step of the way.

The total cost breakdown to become a Registered Dental Assistant

Costs associated to becoming an unregistered dental assistant:

Indigo’s Dental Assistant Program
Your down payment due before the first session. Talk with us about payment options.

Costs associated to becoming a registered dental assistant:

Indigo’s RDA Capstone Program
Speak with your advisor for pricing
Down payment due before the first session. Talk with us about payment options.
LiveScan Fingerprint Fee
Varies based on Live Scan location
Due before you application is sent to the Dental Board
RDA Application Fee
Due with your RDA Exam Application
RDA General and Law and Ethics Written examination
Due when scheduling your test with Psychological Services Inc. (PSI), which is the contracted testing agency handling the examinations for the Dental Board of California

Cost to maintain your RDA license every 2 years:

Continuing Education Courses
Class pricing varies
Evidence of completion due with your renewal application
License Renewal Fee
Due before 2 years have lapsed since your last renewal to avoid a $50 late fee.

Upcoming Dental Assistant Classes

September 30, 2023
Class Full
November 4, 2023
Class Full

Ready to start your career as a registered dental assistant?

Now is a great time to begin this career.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 8% growth for dental assistants between 2021 and 2031; which is faster than average for
all occupations.

We have classes starting monthly!

Have additional questions?
Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Call or Text: (877) 464-6344
Download the Factsheet
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