Dental Assistant Salary
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.
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.Read More...
However, if an individual prefers to work in a less hands-on environment, dental assistants are also needed to handle the business-support functions of a dental office. These individuals would be responsible for making appointments, filing paperwork, and handling billing for the company. Additionally, the dental assistant would be responsible for greeting patients when they walk in the door, and providing a warm, professional face for the office. To perform this job well, the dental assistant would need to possess strong interpersonal skills, have a professional appearance, and have basic skills with computers.
Dental Assistant Tasks
- Assist dentist during dental treatment procedures.
- Maintain office records and supplies and schedule appointments.
- Teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene.
- Take and develop patient x-rays, including digital (if certified).
- Sterilize instruments and equipment.
Common Career Paths for Dental Assistant
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
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).