National Credential
Credential: Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)  GI Bill resource  NCCA resource  IAS resource
Credentialing Agency: Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)

The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) credential is for an intermediate-level dental professional who specializes in orthodontics. COAs possess the knowledge and applied skill level necessary to perform the tasks required of orthodontic assistants. Applicants must meet a combination of education and experience. The COA exam consists of two component exams that must be passed in order to earn the credential.

More information can be found on the certifying agency's website.

Renewal Period: 1 year

Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)

The following Army Occupations provide training and/or experience that contributes to attaining this credential:

Personnel Category Occupation Occupation Type Related As Promotion Points Skill Level Star Proponent Funded Gap Analysis
Enlisted 68E Dental Specialist MOS other          

Army Table Legend


Related As

The military occupations shown in this table are related to this credential in one of four ways: Most, Some, or Other.

Most: This credential is directly related to most of the major duties associated with the military occupation (at least 80%). Note that the credential may require additional education, training or experience before you are eligible for it.

Some: This credential is related to some tasks associated with the duties of the military occupation (related 80% to at least one or more critical tasks but less than 80% of all of the entire military occupation). Note that the credential may require additional education, training or experience before you are eligible for it.

Other: This credential is related to this military occupation, but is more advanced or specialized and therefore will likely require additional education, training, or experience.

Promotion Points Promotion Points icon

This credential has been approved for promotion points for this MOS towards promotion to Sergeant and Staff Sergeant. Clicking the Promotion Points icon will open a link to the promotion points fact sheet.

Skill Level Designation

Skill Level I: This skill level consists of all Soldiers in the ranks of Private (pay grade E-1) up to Specialist (pay grade E-4). Time in Service (TIS) is generally between initial entry and four Years of Service (YOS). This skill level is Entry-level positions requiring performance of tasks under direct supervision.

Institutional training:

  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level I
  • Basic Leader Course (BLC)

Skill Level II: This skill level is obtained when promoted to Sergeant (paygrade E-5). TIS is generally between 4-8 YOS. Positions requiring performance of more difficult tasks under general supervision; and in some instances, involving supervision of Soldiers in SL1.

Institutional training:

  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level II
  • Advance Leader Course (ALC)

Skill Level III: This skill level is obtained when promoted to Staff Sergeant (paygrade E-6). TIS is generally between 8-12 YOS. Positions requiring performance of still more difficult tasks and involving first line supervision of Soldiers in SL1 & SL2.

Institutional training:

  • Senior Leader Course (SLC)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level III

Skill level IV: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Sergeant First Class (paygrade E-7). TIS is generally between 12-18 YOS. Positions requiring relatively detailed knowledge of all tasks specified for a given MOS, normally involving first-line supervision of Soldiers in SLs 1, 2, and 3, and involving managerial duties.

Institutional training:

  • Master Leader Course (MLC)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level IV
  • Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education (SEJPME) I Course

Skill level V: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant (paygrade E-8). TIS is generally between 18-22 YOS. Positions requiring direct and indirect leadership roles with expertise in company and battalion-level operations and competency across a given CMF, serving as members of a staff at every level in the Army, with a full understanding of the allocation of resources and their utilization in order to accomplish Army functions and missions.

Institutional training:

  • United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA)
  • Structured Self-Development (SSD) level V

Skill level VI: This skill level is obtained when promoted to the rank of Sergeants Major (paygrade E-9). TIS is generally between 22-30 YOS. Positions requiring organizational leadership roles with multi-dimensional expertise in units and teams on division, corps, and Army staffs, integrated with Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational (JIIM) partners with a full understanding of the Force Generation process, operations at all echelons, and how the Army runs.

Star Credential Star icon

Star credentials are MOS enhancing, as designated by the Proponent. MOS enhancing credentials are directly related to an MOS or ASI, are taught either partially or completely as part of a Program of Instruction (POI), and improve the MOS technical proficiency.

Proponent Funded Funded icon

This icon indicates credentials which Soldiers may have funded through their MOS proponent. Some proponents offer credentialing opportunities in conjunction with military training and/or as part of MOS development beyond the training base.

Gap Analysis Has Analysis icon

A detailed analysis comparing the credential requirements to the military occupation has been completed. Click on the gap analysis icon to view the analysis page.

Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)

Eligibility Requirements ()

Note: This credential may have multiple options for becoming eligible. Listed below are the minimum requirements based on the minimum degree required. To view other options, see the Eligibility tab.

  • Credential Prerequisite: Current CPR from a DANB-accepted provider
  • Experience: 3500 hours
  • Education: High School Diploma/GED
  • Training
  • Membership
  • Other
  • Fee

Exam Requirements ()

  • Written Exam
  • Oral Exam
  • Practical Exam
  • Performance Assessment

Renewal Period: 1 year

  • Continuing Education
  • Exam
  • Continuing Education OR Exam
  • Fee
  • Other

Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)
444 N. Michigan Ave.
Suite 900
Chicago, IL  60611
Phone: (800) 367-3262
Fax: (312) 642-8507
Contact Page

Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)

Pathway 1:

  1. Minimum of 3,500 hours of approved work experience, and 
  2. Current or former DANB CDA certification, and
  3. Current CPR from a DANB-accepted provider

Pathway 2:

  1. High school graduation or equivalent, and 
  2. Minimum of 3,500 hours of approved work experience, and
  3. Current CPR from a DANB-accepted provider

Pathway 3:

  1. Completion of an orthodontic assisting preparation course from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program, and
  2. Current DANB CDA certification, and
  3. Current CPR from a DANB-accepted provider

Pathway 4:

  1. Current or former DANB COA status, or graduation from a CODA-accredited DDS or DMD program, or graduation from a dental degree program outside the U.S. or Canada, and
  2. Current CPR from a DANB-accepted provider

Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)

  • Standard Precautions and the Prevention of Disease Transmission (20%)
    • Recognize infectious diseases and their relationship to patient and occupational risk
    • Demonstrate understanding of how to review a medical history to prevent adverse reactions during dental care (e.g., adverse reactions to latex or vinyl)
    • Demonstrate understanding of proper hand hygiene as performed before, during and after oral surgery and intraoral procedures
    • Describe how to protect the patient and operator by using personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g., masks, gloves, eyewear, gowns)
    • Demonstrate understanding of how to protect the patient and operator through the reduction of aerosol, droplets and spatter
  • Prevent Cross-contamination during Procedures (34%)
    • Demonstrate understanding of how to maintain aseptic conditions to prevent crosscontamination for procedures and services
  • Instrument/Device Processing (26%)
    • Demonstrate understanding of processing reusable dental instruments and devices
    • Demonstrate understanding of how to monitor and maintain processing equipment and sterilizers (e.g., ultrasonic cleaner, autoclave)
  • Occupational Safety/Administrative Protocols (20%)
    • Demonstrate understanding of occupational safety standards and guidelines for personnel
    • Demonstrate understanding of how to maintain and document programs/policies for infection control and safety
  • Collection and recording of clinical data (21%)
    • Medical/dental history
    • Preliminary examination
    • Demonstrate understanding of how to document treatment
    • Charting
    • Diagnostic aids
  • Dental radiation health and safety (18%)
    • Expose and evaluate
    • Conventional film processing
    • Radiation safety – patient/operator
  • Orthodontic procedures (35%)
    • Describe orthodontic procedure preparations
    • Describe how to prepare armamentarium for orthodontic procedures
    • Describe orthodontic procedures
    • Chairside dental materials
    • Demonstrate understanding of laboratory procedures
    • Demonstrate understanding of medical emergencies
    • Demonstrate understanding of dental emergencies (e.g., signs and symptoms of dental conditions/emergencies likely to occur in the dental office)
  • Patient education and office management (26%)
    • Patient education
    • Demonstrate how to provide pre- and post-treatment instruction
    • Demonstrate plaque control techniques for the patient
    • Evaluate patient’s current oral healthcare and progress/response to home care.
    • Demonstrate how to provide nutrition guidance
    • Demonstrate understanding of patient management
    • Demonstrate understanding of patient reception, communication and accounting
    • Legal aspects of dentistry
    • Supply and inventory control

There are a number of resources available to help you prepare for the Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) examination:

An additional resource is Safari Books Online, a searchable digital library that provides online access to thousands of books, training videos and conference sessions. See the Educational Resources page here on COOL to learn how to get free access.

Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)

Renewal Period: 1 year

The Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) credential has the following recertification information:

  • The COA credential is valid for one year. Certification holders must complete a minimum of 12 continuing education credits, maintain a DANB-approved CPR certification, and submit a renewal fee.

    Additional information can be found on the DANB recertification requirements page.