What Is the RDA Exam?
To help current and aspiring Dental Assistants achieve their goals, we developed the following study guide for DA certification and licensure.
Dental Assisting certification can offer many benefits, including greater job opportunities, higher salaries, and further career advancement in the dental profession.
This study guide will focus on the RDA, which stands for Registered Dental Assistant. The RDA exam is administered by the Dental Board of California (DBC). They are one of the primary license providers for Dental Assistants on the West Coast.
The RDA exam is a professional license that qualifies you to become a Registered Dental Assistant.
RDAs are licensed healthcare professionals who provide dental care for patients. Their duties are a mix of patient care, laboratory procedures, and clerical work. The Registered Dental Assisting exam validates your skills and knowledge in the field of oral care to your patients as well as to your current and future employers.
What Are the Requirements to Take the RDA Exam?
RDA candidates must meet the following requirements to sit for this exam.
- Graduate from a Board-approved Registered Dental Assisting program; or
- Complete at least 15 months (1,280 hours) of satisfactory work experience as a Dental Assistant with a dentist, licensed in one of the states in the United States; or
- Complete a California Department of Education-approved four-month educational program and 11 months of work experience with a dentist licensed in one of the states.
- Complete Board-approved courses in coronal polishing and radiation safety.
- Complete and show proof of completion of a Board-approved course in the Dental Practice Act completed within five years of application.
- Complete and show proof of completion of an eight-hour, Board-approved course in infection control within five years of application.
- Complete and show proof of completion of a basic life support course with an instructor approved by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
- Submit fingerprint clearances from both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
Your first renewal may be immediate depending on your birth date and the day you are licensed. If your birth year is an even number, then you will always expire in an even year on the day of your birthday. Alternatively, if your birth year is an odd number, you will always expire in an odd year on the day of your birthday.
- Even number example
Birthday: January 2, 1976
Licensed on: October 1, 2007 (prior to your next even year birthday)
Expirations would be: January 2, 2008; January 2, 2010; January 2, 2012…
- Odd number example
Birthday: May 21, 1981
Licensed on: January 1, 2007 (prior to your next odd year birthday)
Expirations would be: May 21, 2007; May 21, 2009; May 21, 2011…
If my RDA license gets canceled, how can I recertified?
You have two options to begin working as an RDA again:
- Restart the process of RDA licensure as a new applicant. This includes taking the written exam, fingerprinting, and providing a coronal polish and x-ray certificate and paying the initial application fee of $80.00.
- Petition the Board to reinstate your previous license. This may include paying all back-due renewal fees including late fees, providing proof of continuing education courses for all missed renewals, submitting original wall certificate and most recent pocket license, fingerprints, and proof of coronal polishing and X-ray certificates.
How to Apply for the RDA Exam
Applicants who meet one of the Dental Board’s eligibility categories must complete an application as well as the corresponding paperwork based on their eligibility criteria (see the below sections).
Once you file your application with the Dental Board, you will receive information on how to schedule and pay for the computerized written exam through Psychological Services Inc. (PSI).