Dental assistants are unavoidable members of a team who help dentists with dental procedures and administrative tasks. This article aims to answer the question of how much do dental assistants make after finishing two-year school.

Statistics show that the dental assistants’ salary range in the US in 2023 is $29,100 to $102,700, but that depends on education, experience, and the state where they work. The salary is also higher in states where qualified dental assistants are rare and in those with a higher concentration of senior population.

Dental assistant salary by states

State Per hour Per year
Average Min to max
Minnesota $25.10 $52,220 $41,230 to $63,700
Alaska $23.73 $49,350 $33,290 to $67,560
New Hampshire $23.69 $49,280 $36,180 to $63,740
Washington, DC $23.66 $49,210 $38,170 to $60,140
Massachusetts $23.45 $48,770 $34,970 to $63,910
North Dakota $22.66 $47,140 $35,250 to $60,800
Oregon $22.57 $46,940 $34,910 to $60,910
Washington $21.94 $45,640 $33,500 to $60,930
Rhode Island $21.53 $44,790 $34,180 to $58,820
Connecticut $21.50 $44,710 $33,790 to $57,500
New Jersey $21.33 $44,370 $29,640 to $61,860
Virginia $21.26 $44,210 $29.190 to $63,760
Maine $21.08 $43,850 $34,480 to $52,800
California $20.81 $43,280 $28,710 to $60,820
Vermont $20.79 $43,230 $29,510 to $56,470
North Carolina $20.57 $42,790 $31,590 to $56,180
Delaware $20.37 $42,380 $27,580 to $61,110
Iowa $20.29 $42,210 $32,810 to $52,620
Maryland $20.27 $42,160 $27,360 to $58,970
Colorado $20.22 $42,050 $30,020 to $56,040
Indiana $20.21 $42,040 $30,240 to $58,630
Arizona $19.73 $41,050 $27,950 to $52,680
Ohio $19.69 $40,950 $27,400 to $58,740
New York $19.56 $40,680 $27,610 to $56,580
Pennsylvania $19.37 $40,290 $27,230 to $57,390
Illinois $19.36 $40,270 $28,330 to $53,180
Nebraska $19,24 $40,010 $29,210 to $54,130
Georgia $19.21 $39,960 $27,750 to $53,740
Wisconsin $19.14 $39,800 $30,200 to $51,380
South Dakota $19,12 $39,770 $28,050 to $52,710
Florida $19.10 $39,730 $27,910 to $53,420
Michigan $18,92 $39,340 $27,830 to $53,050
Missouri $18.87 $39,250 $27,570 to $50,980
South Carolina $18.85 $39,200 $29,250 to $50,650
Tennessee $18.72 $38,940 $26,270 to $53,950
Nevada $18.61 $38,710 $26,310 to $50,570
Texas $18.57 $38,630 $26,710 to $51,280
Kansas $18.19 $37,830 $26,770 to $50,630
New Mexico $17.94 $37,310 $27,450 to $49,530
Montana $17.89 $37,210 $27,470 to $49,360
Wyoming $17.82 $37,070 $27,050 to $49,640
Hawaii $17.78 $36,990 $25,500 to $49,510
Oklahoma $17.77 $36,970 $27,170 to $49,340
Kentucky $17.73 $36,870 $24,380 to $50,980
Arkansas $17.02 $35,400 $25,930 to $47,210
Idaho $16.62 $34,580 $26,020 to $45,700
Alabama $16.05 $33,390 $23,870 to $45,080
Louisiana $16.01 $33,300 $22,160 to $45,360
Mississippi $15.76 $32,770 $23,040 to $45,820
Utah $15.74 $32,740 $23,280 to $41,860
West Virginia $15.73 $32,710 $21,300 to $45,220
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How Much Do Dental Assistants Make?

Dental assistants earn about $64,800 annually, while their income is $5,400 monthly. However, the salary range is wide and depends on many factors. It typically ranges from $29,100 to $102,700 a year or $2,425 to $8,560 a month.

Since experience significantly affects annual salary, only 5% of dental assistants earn over $61,500. Most (65%) have a salary range of $37,600 to $54,000. While 10% of employees have an annual income of $54,000 to $61,500, about 20% of dental assistants earn less than $37,600 yearly.

For instance, professionals with over 20 years of experience typically earn $95,900 to $97,500 a year. On the other hand, novices working up to two years have an average salary of $35,500 to $37,200. Statistically speaking, you can expect to get:

  • $48,000 to $48,800 when working 2 to 5 years in the profession
  • $68,800 to $69,500 when working 5 to 10 years in the profession
  • $83,000 to $84,500 when working 10 to 15 years in the profession
  • $89,500 to $89,900 when working 15 to 20 years in the profession

You have probably heard that the salary often depends on the employee’s gender. Interestingly, the situation is different with dental assistants than in most other professions. Female dental assistants are paid better and earn approximately $68,900 a year, while their male colleagues average an annual salary of $64,300.

As expected, the salary significantly depends on the dental assistant’s education. So, you can earn approximately $45,600 if you have a certificate or diploma. Bachelor’s Degree is worth more and typically means that annual income is almost double, or $85,400.

Besides regular salary, most dental assistants can count on annual bonuses, including:

  • Individual and company performance bonus
  • Goal-based bonus
  • Holiday bonus

Unfortunately, a dental assistant is a low-bonus-based position, with over 65% of employees never receiving it. About 35% of employees get at least one bonus ranging from 0% to 4% within a year.

Factors That Affect Dental Assistant Salary

As mentioned, a dental assistant salary depends on numerous factors. The most crucial include the following:

1. Location

The region and city where you live significantly affect your annual income. According to official statistics for 2021, you can expect to get the highest salary if you live in Minnesota, where the average yearly income is $41,230 to $63,700 or $25.10 per hour.

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On the other hand, you can expect to earn only $21,300 to $45,220 annually or $15.73 per hour if you live in West Virginia.

The highest dental assistant salaries in cities

City Hourly rate Weekly Monthly Annual
Richmond, California $23.94 $957 $4,150 $49,801
Bellevue, Washington DC $23.86 $954 $4,136 $49,634
Saratoga, California $23.84 $953 $4,131 $49,583
Lynnwood, Washington DC $23.73 $949 $4,113 $49,357
Coalinga, California $23.71 $948 $4,109 $49,318
Kirkland, Washington DC $23.67 $946 $4,102 $49,235
Issaquah, Washington DC $23.14 $925 $4,010 $48,126

In 2022, the top-paying state for dental assistants was Minnesota. The average annual wage for 5,890 employees was $58,890 or $28.31 per hour. The second place went to the District of Columbia since 660 dental assistants in this state earned $52,820 this year, or $25.39 on average.

On the other hand, you have the highest opportunity for this job in California. This state had the highest employment level in 2022, with over 55,360 dental assistants working there. Their average annual income was $48,990 or $23.55 per hour.

The highest annual dental assistant salaries by cities based on their cost-of-living index in 2023

City Average salary Maximum salary
St. Paul, Minnesota $54,510 $64,810
Fargo, North Dakota $48,180 $60,030
Cedar Rapids, Iowa $47,760 $62,860

As for cities, you can expect the best earnings in Richmond, California. Dental assistants living there can earn an average annual salary of $49,801 or an hourly rate of $23.94.

3. Education and specialization

You can expect different incomes as a dental assistant depending on your education. The first step is to get an associate degree or complete a certificate or diploma program. In some states, you may get an opportunity to learn your skills on the job without a formal education.

On the other hand, an accredited dental assisting program increases your job opportunities and higher salary after qualifying for professional certification.

Besides, you can count on a better position and higher income if you specialize in a specific dental area. Remember that higher-paying specialties also have higher responsibilities.

For instance, periodontics earn at least $25.50 per hour, while endodontics are paid the least, only $19 on average. Other specialized positions can bring you approximately:

  • $22.50 per hour in pediatrics
  • $22 per hour in orthodontics
  • $20 per hour in oral surgery

4. Workplace

Your workplace has a significant role in your income because of the responsibilities you have on your job. The more well-known, more prominent, and in a better location the office is, the higher salary you can expect. Besides, additional duties you can get positively affect your earnings.

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Average dental assistant salary based on industry

Industry Annual salary Hourly rate
Nursing care facility $44,730 $21.51
Specialty hospital $44,500 $21.39
Trade school and college $42,850 $20.60
Outpatient care center $39,850 $19.16
Dental office $39,770 $19.12
Physicians’ office $36,980 $17.78

 

5. Experience and additional skills

As expected, entry-level dental assistants almost always earn less than their more experienced colleagues. As novices, you can expect to make less than $37,000 a year, while highly skilled dental assistants can get salaries even over $100,000.

Remember that constant learning, earning specialized certifications, and gaining additional skills can positively affect your annual wages.

6. Demand for dental assistants

Official data show dental assistant job growth can be significant, meaning that you can expect at least 30,100 new jobs in this area by 2031. To predictions, the highest demand will be in the most populous regions.

In other words, such a demand affects the average pay raise. You can expect a salary increase of about 8% annually. It is notably higher than the average of 8% per 16 months in all American professions and industries.

Ways to Boost Your Salary

If you work for less than the national average and want to earn more, there are several ways to increase your salary.

  1. Gain experience
  2. Make an effort to get additional education, specialize, and get certified
  3. Become DANB’s CDA (certified dental assistant)
  4. Find the right practice
  5. Ask the employer for more responsibilities
  6. Ask for a raise
  7. Earn additional credentials
  8. Change practice if there is no possibility for progress and higher income over time

Summary

A dental assistant salary depends on numerous factors. You can expect higher annual payments when you are highly educated and have the necessary experience. On the other hand, your salary depends on the state and even the city where you live.

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