3 tips for dental assistants when asking for a raise

With dental offices facing staff shortages in recent years, many dental assistants have taken on more work and earned pay raises. DANB’s 2022 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey showed that 53% of dental assistants have received a raise in the past two years. If you’re a top performer or have taken on more responsibilities in your dental office and haven’t received a raise yet, you may be ready to ask for one.

There are a few steps you’ll want to take before asking the question, such as researching salary and compiling a list of the value you bring to the practice. You can find the latest dental assistant salary insights here. Next comes the challenging part: having the conversation with your employer. Of the DANB certificants who received a raise in the past two years, 19% got it by asking.

It’s an intimidating conversation to initiate, but with the right approach, you can get through it — and hopefully get the raise you want! Here are a few tips for talking to your employer about a raise.

Choose the right time

Be thoughtful about when to ask for a raise. The process may take some time, even if the practice is willing to give you a raise, and you’ll likely want to ask before the next year’s budget is set.

Your practice may give raises at a certain time of year, such as during performance reviews. This is a perfect time to bring up the topic, as you and your employer will already be discussing your performance and value to the practice, making it easier to bring up your compensation.

If your office doesn’t have a set time for raises or performance reviews, try to bring up the subject when your boss’s workload is light, as they’ll have more time and likely be more receptive to the discussion. This will also give you a chance to sit down with them and fully state your case. In turn, your employer will have the time to listen, consider your points, and ask questions.

Be confident and enthusiastic

Approaching your boss to ask for a raise can certainly be awkward. But you’ve prepared for this moment; start the conversation with confidence! You’ve determined what salary you’re targeting. You’ve earned credentials and furthered your knowledge with continuing education. You know your worth to the dental practice — and your doctor should, too. After all, they work with you every day and get a firsthand look at what you do to help them run a successful practice.

While you should be confident, avoid being demanding or aggressive, as this can be off-putting and potentially derail the conversation. Instead, explain how a raise can be mutually beneficial for you and the practice, and be prepared to back it up if the doctor or practice manager asks questions. You could share how your productivity helps the practice maximize appointments or how your positive attitude has aided in patient retention.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm about the practice, your teammates, and your future goals. If you’d like to stay at the practice for a while, show it! Your doctor may be more willing to invest in a dental assistant who will be around for the long haul.

Consider a counteroffer

Your employer may not accept your initial ask, and you aren’t required to take their first offer if it’s not what you’re looking for. Ask if there’s room to meet in the middle. Or, see if there’s something you can do to get the amount you initially requested. Is there an area where you could improve? Or would taking on more responsibility or earning a credential prompt the practice to give you a raise? It never hurts to ask!

Similarly, if your raise request is denied, that doesn’t mean the conversation has to end there. While it may sting to hear, try to take the news graciously. You can also politely ask why, as well as what you’d need to do to earn a raise in the future. A good manager will sit down with you and help you create a plan to reach your compensation goal. If a wage increase is out of the question, you could also inquire about other forms of compensation, such as additional paid time off or training opportunities.

Ultimately, what you do next is up to you. If your practice won’t budge on a raise request, you may consider whether another dental office would value your skills more and provide the salary you deserve.

Read more: 6 interview questions dental assistants should ask