Salary and Benefits

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Certified Dental Assistants Salary, Satisfaction and Benefits

For dental assistants, earning Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) leads to higher pay, greater job satisfaction, and other personal and professional benefits, according to DANB’s 2020-2021 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey.

Higher wages and more raises

How much do dental assistants make is always a top question. Dental assistants who hold DANB’s CDA certification reported earning just over $2 more per hour compared to other dental assistants’ pay. Dental assistants who hold CDA certification earned a median hourly wage of $22.09 compared to the national median rate of $19.80 per hour.*

Earning CDA certification is also tied to income growth, as 61% of CDA certificants reported receiving a raise in their current position compared to 45% of non-certified assistants who received a raise.

Increased job and career satisfaction

Of those surveyed, 78% of dental assistants who hold CDA certification reported very high or high job satisfaction (compared to 72% of those who were not certified) and 50% strongly agreed that dental assisting is a career, not just a job (vs. 37% of those who are not certified).

Additionally, CDA certificants have high employer loyalty. On average, dental assistants who hold CDA certification have worked for the same dental practice for nearly 8 years, and 72% said they feel valued by their employer.

More personal and professional benefits

A majority (60%) of dental assistants who hold DANB CDA certification said earning certification was a personal goal. They pointed to many personal benefits from earning CDA certification, including pride, increased knowledge, standing out when applying for jobs, higher pay and greater confidence.

CDA certificants were more likely than non-certified assistants to receive professional benefits, such as paid vacation, paid holidays, retirement plans, health insurance, paid sick leave and bonuses.

These rewards could be because DANB certificants are committed to holding on to their certification and recommend it to others. In fact, 99% of CDA certificants said they plan to renew their certification, and 91% would encourage others to earn certification.

Want to read more about dental assistants’ salaries and benefits?

Download the report.

*Compared to figures from the 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Figures are based on median hourly wages of dental assistants working full time (35+ hours per week).

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