Registered Dental Assistant Applicants

Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) Examination and Licensure Requirements

Alert: Unlicensed dental assistants are not allowed to perform coronal polishing, pit and fissure sealants, or ultrasonic scaling until they have obtained a license or permit that allows performance of these duties. Please review the Table of Permitted Duties for an overview of the duties Dental Assistants, Orthodontic Assistants, Dental Sedation Assistants, Registered Dental Assistants (RDA) and Registered Dental Assistants in Extended Functions are allowed to perform in California. All licensees are responsible for understanding and following the laws and regulations which govern their practice. Violations can result in license denial or discipline, as well as criminal prosecution. For more information, please visit the Required and Prohibited Conduct page of our website.

Requirements to obtain an RDA License

Reciprocity is not offered to practice as an RDA in California. All persons wishing to perform the functions of an RDA in California must complete the licensure process described below.

  1. A completed RDA application (RDA1) along with the $120.00 application fee. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 30(c) a licensing board may not process any application for an original license unless the candidate or licensee provides its federal employer identification number or social security number where requested on the application.
    1. Mail To:
      Dental Board of California
      2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1550
      Sacramento, CA 95815
  2. Submit written evidence, satisfactory to the Dental Board of California, of one of the following eligibility requirements:
    1. Graduation from an educational program in registered dental assisting approved by the Board. Satisfactory evidence would be one of the following documents:
      • A completed Certification of Board Approved Registered Dental Assisting Program Completion (RDA2) form. This form must be signed and dated after the date of graduation, with the school seal affixed. Copies of this form will not be accepted, or 
      • A copy of the Dental Assisting Diploma/Certificate, or,
      • A letter signed by the Program Director certifying completion of the RDA program and the actual date of graduation. The letter must be written on school stationary with the school seal affixed.
    2. Evidence of completion of satisfactory work experience of at least 15 months as a dental assistant in California or another state. Satisfactory work experience means performance of the duties specified in Section 1750.1 in a competent manner as determined by the employing dentist, who shall certify to such satisfactory work experience in the application. Applicants must submit a completed Certification of Work Experience as a Dental Assistant (RDA3) form. Copies of this form will not be accepted.    
    3. The Board shall give credit toward the work experience referred to in this section to persons who have graduated from a dental assisting program in a postsecondary institution approved by the Department of Education or in a secondary institution, regional occupational center, or regional occupational program, that are not, however, approved by the Board pursuant to subdivision (a). The credit shall equal the total weeks spent in classroom training and internship on a week-for-week basis. Applicants must submit both of the following:
  3. Each applicant for RDA licensure shall provide evidence of having successfully completed Board-approved courses in radiation safety and coronal polishing.
  4. Each applicant for RDA licensure shall provide evidence of having successfully completed within five years prior to application, Board-approved courses in the California Dental Practice Act, an 8-hour Board-approved Infection Control course, and  a course in basic life support by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association, or any other course approved by the Board as equivalent.
  5. Each applicant for RDA licensure shall demonstrate satisfactory performance on the Registered Dental Assistant Combined Written and Law and Ethics Examination.
  6. Fingerprint clearances from both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is required for licensure. Applicants will need to download the Live Scan form, complete it and take it to a Live Scan service location. The Live Scan service location will require you to pay a fee. Your fingerprints will be taken electronically, without ink, and transmitted to the California DOJ. Finally, the DOJ will send their report to the Dental Board. Usually the report is received within seven days. There is a low rate of rejections with this method. If you use Live Scan, you are not required to submit $49.00 fee to the Dental Board.

Processing Time

An application may be approved in as little as 30 days if the application is complete.

Application Process

Start Here: Courtesy Guidelines have been provided for applicants to go over the application process in detail
RDA COURTESY GUIDELINES - APPROVED EDUCATION PATHWAY
RDA COURTESY GUIDELINES - WORK EXPERIENCE AND BLENDED PATHWAYS
Forms:
RDA 1 - RDA Application (All Applicants) - ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE SUBMITTED WITH THE APPROPRIATE FORM/S BELOW. PLEASE CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE FORM ACCORDING TO HOW YOU ARE QUALIFYING FOR THE EXAMINATIONS
RDA 2- (EDUCATION ONLY) - USE THIS FORM IF YOU GRADUATED FROM A BOARD APPROVED REGISTERED DENTAL ASSISTING PROGRAM.
RDA 3- (WORK EXPERIENCE ONLY) - USE THIS FORM IF YOU ARE QUALIFYING BY COMPLETING 15 MONTHS AND 1280 HOURS OF WORK EXPERIENCE AS A DENTAL ASSISTANT.
RDA 4- (MIXED EDUCATION AND WORK EXPERIENCE) - USE THIS FORM IF YOU ARE QUALIFYING WITH BOTH, COMPLETION OF A NON-APPROVED DENTAL ASSISTING PROGRAM, AND WORK EXPERIENCE AS A DENTAL ASSISTANT
LIVE SCAN – USE THIS FORM TO HAVE FINGERPRINT RESULTS SENT ELECTRONICALLY TO THE DENTAL BOARD.

Written Examinations

Once you file your application with the Board, you will be sent information on how to separately pay for and schedule the required computerized written examination. You will then be able to schedule the Registered Dental Assistant Combined Written and Law and Ethics Examination at your convenience through PSI.

How to Obtain RDA License

Once you have submitted a complete application, passed the Registered Dental Assistant Combined Written and Law and Ethics Examination, fingerprint clearances have been received, and a candidate is qualified for licensure, a pocket identification card and wall certificate are issued. There is no license fee required for the initial license.
For more information, call (916) 263-2300 or email da.program@dca.ca.gov

Abandonment of Applications

Pursuant to California Code of Regulations 1004: Abandonment of Applications

  1. An application shall be deemed to have been abandoned in any of the following circumstances:
    1. The applicant fails to submit the application, examination, or reexamination fee within 180 days after notification by the Board that such fee is due and unpaid.
    2. The applicant fails to take the licensing examination within two years after the date his or her application was received by the Board.
    3. Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subdivision, the applicant, after failing the examination, fails to take a reexamination within two years after the date the applicant was notified of such failure.
    4. Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subdivision, the applicant, after failing the examination, fails to take a reexamination within two years after the date the applicant was notified of such failure.
  2. An application submitted subsequent to the abandonment of a former application shall be treated as a new application.
  3. For any other application deficiencies not listed in subdivision (a), an applicant for a license who fails to complete application requirements within one year after being notified by the Board of deficiencies in his or her application, shall be deemed to have abandoned the application and shall be required to file a new application and meet all of the requirements which are in effect at the time of reapplication.

Abandoned applicants must complete the application as a new applicant, which includes submitting a new application, qualification documentation, and the appropriate fee.

Important Links