Dental Assistant Salary – How Much Do They Make?

Dental assistant careers are on the rise, with demand for qualified employees growing in nearly all states. These trained professionals are essential to the safe and efficient running of dental offices, and they earn a great salary for doing so. Becoming a dental assistant does not require a degree and takes less than two years, often less than one depending on the program.

Check out our state by state guides for detailed information on dental assistant salaries:

The Average Dental Assistant Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental assistants earn an average of $19.27 per hour and $40,080 per year. There is a lot of variation in salaries depending on location and employer. The top ten percent of earners in this career make more than $56,930 annually, while the lowest earners make $27,980 and less. The average annual salary for other healthcare support jobs is just $35,860, so dental assistants can earn more than most other professionals in support roles, such as medical or nursing assistants.

Dental Assistant Jobs Are in Demand

The BLS also reports strong growth and demand for qualified dental assistants. The number of jobs available is growing at a fast pace of 11 percent across the U.S. Demand is highest in Arizona, where jobs are growing at an astounding rate of 32 percent. Other states with exceptionally high demand for dental assistants are Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The only state with a decline in dental assisting jobs is Rhode Island.

Dental Assistants Salaries Based on Years of Experience and Certification

Some of the lowest salaries in dental assisting can be accounted for by years of experience. Entry-level dental assistants earn around $16 or $17 per hour, according to the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). That average hourly wage goes up with more years of experience. Those who have 20 or more years of work experience earn about $24 per hour and more.

The DANB also reports that certified dental assistants earn higher salaries. Certified Dental Assistants earn $2 more per hour on average. They are also more likely to ask for and receive raises from their employers.

States in Which Dental Assistants Earn the Most

The state with the highest average salary for dental assistants is Minnesota. Here dental assistants earn $25.10 per hour and $52,220 per year on average, more than $10,000 over the national average salary. The top ten percent of earners in Minnesota make more than $63,700 per year. Other states with high salaries for dental assistants include Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington.

States with the Lowest Dental Assistant Salaries

The lowest salaries for dental assistants are in West Virginia, where the average hourly rate is $15.73 and the average annual salary is $32,710. Other states with lower salaries for dental assistants are Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi and Utah. The average salary for the territory of Puerto Rico, where austerity measures are in place, is just $19,040 per year.

Where Dental Assistants Earn More

While there is variety in salaries for dental assistants by state, there can also be wide variations within each state. The DANB reports that salaries are highest in metropolitan areas, large cities and suburbs. Salaries are lower in rural areas and lowest on military bases.

Careers for dental assistants are expected to continue growing for several years. Salaries are fairly high compared to the level of education required to get into the field. While earnings vary by state and other factors, this is a career with high levels of satisfaction and great job stability.

FAQs

How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make an Hour?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly salary for a dental assistant is $19.27. Minnesota has the highest salaries for dental assistants with an average of $25.10 per hour. The lowest average hourly pay, $15.73, is in West Virginia.

What is the Average Starting Salary for a Dental Assistant?

Starting salaries for dental assistants can vary significantly, depending on the employer and by geographical area. On average in the U.S., the lowest earning dental assistants make less than $27,980 per year. According to the Dental Assisting National Board, dental assistants with less than one year of experience earn about $17 per hour.

Do Dental Assistants Get Paid Well?

Dental assistants earn $40,080 per year in the U.S. on average. The salary is good compared to many other similar healthcare careers. Dental assistants generally earn more than medical assistants, nursing assistants and pharmacy technicians. They earn less than physical therapist assistants and significantly less than dental hygienists.

What is the Highest Paid Dental Assistant?

The average annual salary for dental assistants is $40,080 in the U.S. according to the BLS. The top ten percent of earners in this career make more than $56,930. Minnesota dental assistants have the highest pay with an average of $52,220 and the highest earners making more than $63,700.

Do Dental Assistants Have Benefits?

The BLS reports that most dental assistants work full-time. This means they generally have benefits along with a salary. Benefits vary by employer.

Is There a High Demand for Dental Assistants?

Across the U.S., the growth rate for dental assistant jobs is 11 percent, much faster than growth in all jobs. This means there is good demand for qualified dental assistants. All states except for Rhode Island are seeing growth in dental assisting, but Arizona has the most demand.

Which Pays More, Dental or Medical Assistant?

Dental assistants earn more than medical assistants. The average salary for a dental assistant in the U.S. is $40,080 per year and $19.27 per hour. Medical assistants earn $34,800 per year and $16.73 per hour on average.

How Many Days a Week Does a Dental Assistant Work?

The work schedule for a dental assistant varies by employer and individual. However, most dental assistants work full-time, five days per week. They may work evening or weekend hours, depending on when the dental office is open.