Dental Assistant Salaries

Sponsored School Search


The American Dental Association (ADA) reported that the salary of a dental assistant depends primarily on the position held and the geographic location in which the job is located. The ADA also reported that dental assistant salaries tend to be equal to other healthcare personnel with similar training and experience, including medical assistants, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapy assistants, pharmacy assistants, and veterinary technicians.

Education for dental assistants is often quite similar, with most programs being located in vocational and technical schools and junior colleges, and most programs lasting between 9 and 11 months. Therefore, salaries for dental assistants are not generally dictated by education.

However, in addition to geographic location, experience, and overall duties, salaries for dental assistants are often based on professional certification through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).


Dental Assistant Salaries: DANB Salary Survey Statistics

Depending on state requirements, dental assistants may need to achieve one of the DANB’s four national certifications, or components of them:

  • Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
  • Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)
  • Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA)
  • Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA)

All of the above certifications are built from component exams, with dental assistants often required to take one, some, or all of the component exams. Further, dental assistants in some states must take and pass DANB state-specific exams to perform certain duties or to work as a dental assistant. Currently, 38 states recognize or require DANB national examinations. However, beyond state requirements, dental assistants who achieve a DANB credential may enjoy higher salaries and more job opportunities.

According to DANB’s 2012 Salary Survey, dental assistants who have earned the CDA credential earn a median hourly salary of $18.60, or $2.01 more per hour ($16.59) than non-certified dental assistants. This survey also found the following:

  • 85 percent of CDAs received paid vacation benefits
  • 57 percent received major medical benefits
  • 61 percent received a 401(k) or pension plan
  • 53 percent received free dental care
  • 61 percent received paid sick leave
  • 82 percent received paid holidays

A state sampling of average salaries of CDAs in 2012 included:

  • Hawaii: $22.00/per hour
  • Texas: $18.00/per hour
  • Washington: $18.89 per hour
  • Vermont: $22.00/per hour
  • North Dakota: $19.00/per hour
  • Florida: $16.50/per hour
  • Pennsylvania: $19.00/per hour
  • Illinois: $18.25/per hour
  • Colorado: $19.00/per hour
  • California: $23.50/per hour
  • Washington D.C.: $24.00/per hour
  • Mississippi: $16.00/per hour

The DANB also reported hourly salaries for CDAs based on experience:

  • 0 to 5 years: $15.00
  • 6-10 years: $18.00
  • 11-15 years: $19.00
  • 16-20 years: $20.00
  • 21-25 years: $20.50
  • 26-30 years: $20.00
  • 31-35 years: $20.63
  • 36+ years: $21.58

And by type of practice:

  • General dentistry: $18.75
  • Multi-specialty: $18.75
  • Orthodontic: $18.48
  • Pediatric: $17.76
  • Oral surgery: $18.11
  • Endodontic: $17.69
  • Periodontics: $19.01
  • Prosthodontic: $20.84

And by practice setting:

  • Private practice: $18.00
  • College/university: $17.00
  • Clinic/HMO: $17.25
  • Vocational school: $18.00
  • Public health center: $17.25
  • of VA: $17.00
  • Hospitals: $17.25
  • Indian Health Services: $17.80
  • Military: $18.50
  • Prison: $18.50

Dental Assistant Salaries According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual salary of $34,900 ($16.78 per hour) for dental assistants, as of May 2013, with the top 10 percent earning more than $48,350 ($23.25 per hour).

Top-paying industries for dental assistants, according to the BLS, were:

  • Specialty hospitals: $39,280
  • Federal executive branch: $38,840
  • State government: $38,270
  • Facilities support services: $38,000
  • Residential intellectual and developmental disability/mental health/substance abuse facilities: $37,360

The top-paying states for dental assistants, as of May 2013, were:

  • New Hampshire: $43,810
  • Alaska: $43,330
  • Minnesota: $42,900
  • Massachusetts: $41,910
  • Connecticut: $40,730

Top-paying metropolitan areas for dental assistants, as of May 2013, were:

  • Manchester, New Hampshire: $49,800
  • San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, California: $48,870
  • Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA-NH: $48,300
  • Anchorage, Alaska: $45,940
  • Worcester, MA-CT: $45,730
  • Rochester, Minnesota: $45,580
  • Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH: $45,160
  • Santa Rosa-Petaluma, California: $44,860
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI: $44,050

The top-paying nonmetropolitan areas for dental assistants, as of May 2013, were:

  • Southeast Alaska: $46,130
  • Southwestern New Hampshire: $45,280
  • Other New Hampshire nonmetropolitan area: $44,480
  • Southwestern Washington: $44,150
  • Southeast Minnesota: $44,130

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed analysis of dental assistant salaries by percentile in all states as shown in the table below:

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Alabama
3400
30810
Alaska
960
43330
Arizona
6480
37580
Arkansas
2400
30500
California
45510
37730
Colorado
6050
37660
Connecticut
4200
40730
Delaware
790
35760
District of Columbia
520
38530
Florida
16530
34300
Georgia
8840
33930
Guam
120
29180
Hawaii
1720
33150
Idaho
1950
30980
Illinois
14270
34360
Indiana
5920
35220
Iowa
2720
35620
Kansas
2640
35550
Kentucky
4160
31680
Louisiana
3830
29310
Maine
1300
38090
Maryland
5520
38480
Massachusetts
6760
41910
Michigan
8820
34370
Minnesota
5210
42900
Mississippi
2160
30000
Missouri
5130
33870
Montana
1140
32790
Nebraska
1760
31200
Nevada
2860
36190
New Hampshire
1270
43810
New Jersey
8640
39230
New Mexico
2330
31840
New York
17970
35600
North Carolina
9080
37400
North Dakota
670
39910
Ohio
9800
35150
Oklahoma
3830
31060
Oregon
4550
39580
Pennsylvania
12430
33420
Puerto Rico
2470
17360
Rhode Island
840
35560
South Carolina
3440
34480
South Dakota
840
31360
Tennessee
5910
34240
Texas
23520
32740
Utah
4830
27860
Vermont
430
39020
Virgin Islands
40
31640
Virginia
8700
36140
Washington
9220
39980
West Virginia
1260
28770
Wisconsin
5830
35770
Wyoming
580
32810

How Professional Specialization Factors in to Dental Assistant Salaries

Dental assistants can increase their professional opportunities and therefore their earning professional by achieving professional credentials in specialty areas of dentistry. DANB advanced specialty certifications for dental assistants include:

  • Certified Preventative Functions Dental Assistant: Includes assessment in four component areas:
    • Topics anesthetic (TA)
    • Topical fluoride (TF)
    • Sealants (SE)
    • Coronal polishing (CP)
  • Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant: Includes assessment in six component areas:
    • Anatomy, morphology, and physiology (AMP)
    • Impressions (IM)
    • Isolation (IS)
    • Restorative functions (RF)
    • Sealants (SE)
    • Temporaries (TMP)

Back to Top