Women make up the vast majority of Dental Assistants in the United States. The average pay in this industry is approximately $15.15 per hour. Individual bonuses, profit sharing and commission for Dental Assistants — as high as $3K, $4K and $5K, respectively — each contribute to the degree of variation within overall compensation, ranging from $22K to $44K. Location is the main element affecting pay for this group — the specific employer and experience level are driving factors as well. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Dental Assistants. Over a third get medical and dental insurance, and roughly a seventh get vision plans, too. This overview is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$18,995 - $45,824
(Median)
$19K
$31K
$46K
MEDIAN: $31,260
10%
50%
90%

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$10.77 - $20.72
(Median)
$11
$15
$21
MEDIAN: $15.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$16K$32K$48K
Salary
$18,995 - $45,824  
   
Bonus
$197.36 - $3,008  
Profit Sharing
$101.37 - $3,878  
Commission
$205.00 - $4,500  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$22,323 - $43,835  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 906
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$11$22$33
Hourly Rate
$10.77 - $20.72  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $7.98  
Overtime
$14.48 - $30.02  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$22K$44K$66K
Bonus
$197.36 - $3,008  
   
Commission
$205.00 - $4,500  
Profit Sharing
$101.37 - $3,878  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$22,323 - $43,835  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 11,243
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Job Description for Dental Assistant

A dental assistant's duties include hands-on work with dental patients, assisting the dentist, and/or performing clerical functions in a dental clinic. Depending on an individual’s certification and goals, any of these are possible job tasks. If an individual would like hands-on work in the dentist’s office, their duties may include prepping the patient for a particular operation; this particular duty would involve knowledge of the teeth and most dental procedures. The dental assistant would then assist the dentist in performing the operation, and do such things as handing the dentist the required tools and providing secondary support. This kind of job usually entails working one-on-one with the dentist, and requires good communication skills.

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Dental Assistant Tasks

  • Take and develop patient x-rays, including digital (if certified).
  • Sterilize instruments and equipment.
  • Teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene.
  • Assist dentist during dental treatment procedures.
  • Maintain office records and supplies and schedule appointments.

Common Career Paths for Dental Assistant


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At the upper end, Dental Assistants who move into a Registered Dental Hygienist role can end up with a hefty increase in pay. The average income for Registered Dental Hygienists is a much higher $67K per year. A Dental Assistant often moves on to become a Registered Dental Assistant or a Certified Dental Assistant.

Dental Assistant Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Dental Assistant


Aspen Dental, Heartland Dental Care, Dental Group Ltd, Family Dental Care, and Family Dental are top-notch employers for Dental Assistants in this area. Dental Assistants seeking a sizable paycheck can earn the most at Dr. B, where the median salary comes to $37K, though the large pay difference between employees at the top ($23K) and those starting out ($49K) creates a rather diverse pay scale. Other leaders in compensation levels are Family Dental Care at $35K, DDS Inc. at $34K, and Dental Group Ltd, where Dental Assistants annually earn $34K.

The lowest salaries can be found at Smile Brands Inc — median pay is $25K — and there is little variation in compensation, with paychecks starting at $21K and only reaching $33K. A few other companies with smaller-than-average paychecks include Gentle Dental ($27K), Kool Smiles Pc. ($27K), and Pediatric Dental ($28K).

Popular Skills for Dental Assistant


Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in Order Inventory, endodontics, Periodontics, and Oral Surgery are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts in pay of 7 percent. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include Bilingual, Spanish Language, and Dental assistant. Most people skilled in Instrument Control are similarly competent in Patient Education and Customer Service.

Pay by Experience Level for Dental Assistant

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


Experience does not seem to be a strong driver of pay increase in this role. The average worker who claims fewer than five years of experience earns around $28K. In contrast, however, individuals who report five to 10 years in this occupation see a much larger median of $34K. Dental Assistants with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $37K. Individuals who report more than two decades of experience seem to make only slightly more than folks in the 10-to-20 year range; the more senior group sees median earnings in the comparatively modest ballpark of $40K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $31,734

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

For Dental Assistants, busy Seattle offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 31 percent above the national average. Dental Assistants can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like New York (+5 percent), Denver (+4 percent), Chicago (+4 percent), and Las Vegas (+4 percent). Falling short of the national average by 16 percent, the area with the worst salaries is Los Angeles. Below-median salaries also turn up in San Antonio and San Diego (7 percent lower and 4 percent lower, respectively).

Dental Assistant Reviews

What is it like working as a Dental Assistant?

Dental Assistant in Shreveport:
"I love it!"
Pros: I love when I can make a fearful child calm down and have a better experience. Patience is key.
Cons: Tough on your hands and feet but worth it!

Dental Assistant in Ferndale:
"Duties as a dental assistant."
Pros: I love making crowns. The fact that I can do so much as the only dental assistant but I'm always stressed out.
Cons: That I'm getting paid less then what I am worth.

Dental Assistant in Cebu City:
"Challenging, hectic, love to deal different personality."
Pros: Learning new things & helping people/patient.
Cons: Hectic schedule.

Dental Assistant in Houston:
Pros: I love the surgery part. My job is very entertaining and I love the nervous patients that I can help calm down.
Cons: Nothing at all. I love my job!!!

Dental Assistant in Jonesboro:
"Dental Assistant."
Pros: I like that we are a close knit office. We work well together and we stay busy. It's a great learning environment with a lot of experienced help.
Cons: We work a little harder than the average dental assistant. We go above and beyond our certifications. Some days things can become a little stressful when the books are very busy.

Related Job Salaries

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Experience Affects Dental Assistant Salaries




National Average
$32,000


Skills That Affect Dental Assistant Salaries




Oral Surgery
up arrow 4%

Office Administration
up arrow 2%

Orthodontics
up arrow 2%

Scheduling
up arrow 2%

Patient Education
up arrow 1%

Radiology
0%

Instrument Control
0%

Pediatrics
0%

National Average
$32,000

Customer Service
up arrow 1%




Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 1420 votes.

Gender

Female
96 %
Male
4 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
8%
1-4 years
41%
5-9 years
19%
10-19 years
19%
20 years or more
12%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 35%
dental benefits
Dental: 39%
medical benefits
Vision: 15%
dental benefits
None: 47%
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