5 dental assistant salary insights from DANB’s latest survey

The dental assisting field is continually changing, and DANB has regularly conducted surveys since 2004 to keep a finger on the pulse of the profession. We recently published our 2022 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey to learn more about the current environment for dental assistants, including current trends in wages and benefits. Here are a few of the top insights we gathered from the latest survey.

CDA pay continues to trend up

While pay can vary based on location, experience, and practice type, this year’s survey revealed that Certified Dental Assistants earn a median wage of $24.00 per hour. This is up from $22.09 in the 2020-2021 salary survey, an increase of 8.6%, and continues a trend of increasing pay for CDAs throughout the years.

  • 2008: $18.00
  • 2010: $18.50
  • 2012: $18.60
  • 2014: $19.00
  • 2016: $20.46
  • 2018: $20.76
  • 2020: $22.09
  • 2022: $24.00

One of the top benefits of CDA certification is higher earning potential compared to non-certified dental assistants. This holds true in 2022. According to DANB’s survey, non-certified dental assistants earn a median wage of $19.93 per hour. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median dental assistant salary in May 2021 was $18.59 per hour, while Salary.com reports it is currently $20.00 per hour.

Holding multiple certifications can lead to even higher pay. Dental professionals with more than one DANB certification earn a median wage of $26.00 per hour.

Many dental assistants have received raises within the last year

As dental assistants have taken on expanded duties, many have expressed a desire for higher pay. Other factors, such as the dental assistant shortage and inflation, have further increased demand for higher wages. 

Many dental practices have responded by offering raises. DANB’s survey shows that 53% of dental assistants have received a raise within the last year, and 75% have gotten one within the last two years. The median pay increase was $1-2 per hour.

How did dental assistants go about getting raises? Many asked for one, while others got one as part of their annual review or for outstanding performance.

Temp and travel dental assistants make slightly more

As dental assisting has faced shortages and other challenges, new opportunities within the profession have opened up. Some dental assistants have taken temporary positions at various practices with staffing needs, while others have opted to try travel dental assisting. While the median pay for CDAs working full-time is $24.00 per hour, it’s $24.74 per hour for temp CDAs and $25.00 per hour for traveling CDAs.

Certificants receive more benefits

Compared to non-certified dental assistants, DANB certificants are given more benefits beyond their salaries. The most common benefits for Certified Dental Assistants are paid vacation (84%), paid holidays (83%), retirement savings plans (64%), health insurance (56%), and free or reduced-fee dental care (53%). While the top five benefits are the same for non-certified dental assistants, they’re not as common: paid holidays (65%), paid vacation (62%), health insurance (49%), free or reduced-fee dental care (45%), and retirement savings plans (42%).

Higher pay is associated with higher satisfaction

In many jobs, pay is closely linked with job satisfaction. Dental assisting is no different. DANB’s survey showed that both certified and non-certified dental assistants who reported being “very satisfied” with their job earned $2 more per hour than those who were “very dissatisfied.” Additionally, more than three-quarters of dental assistants report that salary is “very important” to them.

View the full 2022 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey results here.