Dental Assistant Salary

How much do dental assistants make?

How much dental assistants make is always a popular question. The short answer is, between $20 and $22 per hour. However, many factors can determine the dental assistant salary. We offer some more details and insights to consider.

Factors that influence dental assistant pay

Dental assistant salaries can vary widely.

Dental assisting salaries can range anywhere from $14 to more than $28 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some of the main factors that influence dental assistant pay are:

  • Practice type
  • Practice location
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Credentials

Certified Dental Assistants earn more

DANB regularly conducts surveys to learn more about dental assistants’ salaries and benefits. DANB’s Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey shows that Certified Dental Assistants earn about $2 more per hour than non-certified assistants — that’s almost $4,000 per year. In 2020, Certified Dental Assistants earned a median hourly pay of $22.09 per hour, compared to the national median of $19.80.

But there’s more. Certified Dental Assistants are more likely to report high job satisfaction, see dental assisting as a career, and feel valued by their employer. Certified Dental Assistants are:

  • Proud of their achievement
  • Confident in their knowledge and abilities
  • Dedicated to helping patients

Download DANB’s Salary Survey

Learn about CDA certification

How to earn more as a dental assistant

Your earning potential as a dental assistant is influenced by many factors, including where you live, how much experience you have, your education and credentials, and what kind of practice you work in. If you’re looking to maximize your earning potential, here are some things to consider.

Find the right practice. There’s no doubt that where you work can make a difference to your salary. Dental practices in cities or urban settings generally offer higher pay than practices in less populated areas. The type of practice can also make a difference. Some specialty practices, such as oral surgery, are known for offering higher salaries because of the specific knowledge their dental assistants need. Beyond practice setting and type, finding a dental practice where you feel at home and where team members are recognized and rewarded for a job well done will impact your bottom line and make it more likely you’ll want to stay with the practice for many years.

Take on more duties. The more duties you can perform in a practice, the more valuable you will become. Look up the dental assistant requirements in your state to find out if your state allows you to perform expanded functions and what it will take for you to get there. Many states recognize or require DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant certification, so earning national certification can accelerate your career and your earnings. Learn about the benefits of CDA certification.

Build your experience. As in any role, as you spend more time working in a dental setting, you’ll have opportunities to hone your skills and demonstrate your abilities. You’ll also be able to gain more knowledge and possibly expand your role to include more allowable duties. As you gain more experience, you’re likely to be compensated accordingly. DANB’s Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey shows that Certified Dental Assistants who are just starting out in the profession make $17.50 per hour, while those with more than 10 years of experience can make over $23 per hour.

Ask for a raise. DANB’s surveys have shown that dental assistants who ask for raises often earn more than those who don’t. But you should approach this conversation carefully. Before you approach your doctor about a raise, do your homework so that you’ll be prepared for this conversation. For example, you’ll want to be able to demonstrate the ways you’ve contributed to the practice and helped increase its success. You’ll also want to know what the typical wage is for dental assistants in your area, so you have a frame of reference to share.

Salary and career articles