The Dental Assistant Salary in 2017

The highest dental assistant salary of all English-speaking countries is registered in the United States where professionals earn $37,890 per year. The US is closely followed by Australia with AU$47,000 (US$35,486) per year, Canada with C$42,000 (US$31,246), New Zealand with NZ$39,520 (US$28,395) per year, and the UK with ₤17,000 (US$21,919). The lowest dentist assistant salary is registered in India and South Africa where dental assistants earn Rs200,000 (US$3,104) and R84,000 (US$6,540), respectively.

How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make per Year?

Dental Assistant Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Wage $18.22 C$20.19
(US$15.04)
₤$8.17
(US$10.53)
AU$22.60
(US$17.06)
NZ$19
(US$13.66)
Rs96.15
(US$1.49)
R40.38
(US$3.14)
Annual Wage $37,890 C$42,000
(US$31,246)
₤17,000
(US$21,919)
AU$47,000
(US$35,486)
NZ$39,520
(US$28,395)
Rs200,000
(US$3,104)
R84,000
(US$6,540)

Dental assistants are responsible for taking x-rays, providing patient carescheduling appointments and keeping records, as well as other responsibilities. Of course, the duties vary from state to state and from employer to employer, as does the dental assistant salary.

While some states require dental assistants to graduate from one sort of accredited program or another, as well as to pass an exam, other states require no formal education whatsoever.

Factors that Influence the Dental Assistant Salary

The most important factors which influence the salary are the industry of the profession, the location of each place of employment, and last, but most definitely not least, the level of experience of each employee.

1. Geographic Area

Dental Assistant Salary in the US

With an estimated mean salary of $37,890 per year and $18.22 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and an employment rate estimated to rise 18% by 2024, the profession is still not one of the most sought-after in healthcare.

Payscale reports the dental assistant starting salary at $18,586 per year. An experienced professional, however, could earn as much as $43,913 per year. Bonuses can account for up to $3,058, profit sharing for about $3,297, and commission for another $4,949 per year.

With each state having its own economy, as well as its own dentistry needs, it’s not difficult to understand why the state of each place of employment can have such a big influence on the dental assistant salary. The same case applies, of course, to different cities, countries, and even metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. However, we will only be checking out the dental assistant salary inside the United States.

Highest Levels of Employment for Dental Assistants in the US

The states offering the highest levels of employment for dental assistants are as follows:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
California 49,210 3.18 1.36 $18.62 $38,730
Texas 26,380 2.28 0.97 $16.95 $35,260
New York 19,580 2.18 0.93 $17.20 $35,770
Florida 17,350 2.19 0.93 $17.20 $35,780
Illinois 13,200 2.25 0.96 $17.85 $37,120

The metropolitan areas with the highest levels of employment for this profession are as follows:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New York – Jersey City – White Plains, NY – NJ Metropolitan Division 14,130 2.18 0.93 $17.34 $36,070
Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division 11,480 2.80 1.19 $18.31 $38,080
Chicago – Naperville – Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division 8,420 2.36 1.01 $18.07 $37,600
Houston – The Woodlands – Sugar Land, TX 6,700 2.29 0.98 $17.09 $35,540
Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Roswell, GA 6,500 2.62 1.12 $18.20 $37,860
Dallas – Plano – Irving, TX Metropolitan Division 5,700 2.45 1.04 $17.84 $37,110
Anaheim – Santa Ana – Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division 5,550 3.64 1.55 $16.63 $34,580
Washington – Arlington – Alexandria, DC – VA – MD – WV Metropolitan Division 5,070 2.10 0.89 $19.92 $41,440
Phoenix – Mesa – Scottsdale, AZ 4,850 2.58 1.10 $18.59 $38,670
Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario, CA 4,730 3.61 1.54 $15.92 $33,120

Nonmetropolitan areas with the highest levels of employment for dental assistants are:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
North Northeastern Ohio 620 1.89 0.80 $17.50 $36,400
East Central Illinois 470 3.99 1.70 $16.41 $34,130
Northeast Mississippi 460 2.07 0.88 $15.02 $31,240
West Northwestern Ohio 460 1.82 0.78 $16.42 $34,150
Piedmont North Carolina 460 1.83 0.78 $17.81 $37,050
Highest Salaries for Dental Assistants in the US

Meanwhile, the states offering the highest salaries for dental assistants are the following:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New Hampshire 1,360 2.13 0.91 $21.87 $45,480
Alaska 1,260 3.86 1.65 $21.42 $44,560
Minnesota 5,520 1.99 0.85 $21.26 $44,220
Massachusetts 7,370 2.17 0.93 $20.23 $42,080
North Dakota 690 1.55 0.66 $20.19 $42,000

Meanwhile, the metropolitan areas with the highest dental assistant salaries are the following:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
San Rafael, CA Metropolitan Division 620 5.50 2.35 $24.12 $50,170
Manchester, NH 260 2.39 1.02 $23.48 $48,830
Haverhill – Newburyport – Amesbury Town, MA – NH NECTA Division 170 2.69 1.15 $23.26 $48,370
San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara, CA 3,280 3.24 1.38 $23.03 $47,900
Taunton – Middleborough – Norton, MA NECTA Division 60 1.09 0.46 $22.67 $47,160
Barnstable Town, MA 190 1.84 0.78 $22.23 $46,240
Peoria, IL 240 1.37 0.58 $21.99 $45,730
San Francisco – Redwood City – South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division 2,210 2.17 0.92 $21.94 $45,630
Rochester, MN 240 2.11 0.90 $21.93 $45,620
Anchorage, AK 730 4.12 1.76 $21.86 $45,470

The nonmetropolitan areas with the highest dental assistant salaries are as follows:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Central New Hampshire 210 2.17 0.93 $23.65 $49,190
Southeast Minnesota 350 2.18 0.93 $23.59 $49,070
Connecticut 60 1.82 0.78 $23.45 $48,780
Southwest New Hampshire 60 1.59 0.68 $23.11 $48,070
Balance of Alaska 270 3.54 1.51 $21.42 $44,560

Many of those aspiring to become dental assistants are deterred by the fact that the dental assistant salary in Texas is higher than that in Bristol, CT, Philadelphia, PA, Charlotte, NC, Las Vegas, CA, Minneapolis, MN, or Charleston, SC. However, with a bit of hard work, determination, and commitment, any motivate dental assistant can advance and earn more over time.

Dental Assistant Salary in Canada

The mean dentist assistant salary in Canada is C$42,000 (US$31,246) per year. A beginner in this field can earn as little as C$25,390 (US$18,872) with a starting bonus of about C$205 (US$152) annually. Nevertheless, after more than 10-15 years on the job, a dental assistant can get to earn up to C$56,982 (US$42,376), out of which up to C$2,959 (US$2,200) comes as bonus.

Even though the dentist assistant salary is not the highest in healthcare, most professionals working in Canada report high job satisfaction levels.

Dental Assistant Salary in the UK

As mentioned before, the median registered dental assistant salary in the UK is ₤17,000 (US$21,919) per year according to PayScale. The starting salary for dentist assistants in the UK is £13,962 (US$17,994), but an experienced professional can earn as much as £35,622 (US$45,909) after a few years on the job.

Dental Assistant Salary in Australia

The average salary of a dentist assistant working in Australia is AU$47,000 (US$35,486) per year. The lowest salary reported by professionals working as dental assistants is AU$20,217 (US$15,271) for their first years. With experience, however, a professional can earn more than twice their starting salary, or AU$56,504 (US$42,671).

Dental Assistant Salary in New Zealand

Dental assistants, also known as dental surgery assistants or orthodontic auxiliaries in New Zealand, earn NZ$39,520 (US$28,395) per year on average. The starting salary for dentist assistants working in New Zealand is about NZ$16 (US$11.52) per hour, or NZ$33,280 (US$23,958) per year. Experienced professionals, however, can earn as much as NZ$24 (US$17.27) per hour, or NZ$49,920 (US$35,942) per year.

Dental Assistant Salary in India

Payscale reports the median dental assistant salary at Rs200,000 (US$3,104) per year. Even though no info is available about how much beginners and experienced professionals earn in this country, the same source states that all professionals have dental insurance, and about 60% of them have less than 4 years of experience. The other 40% have been in this field for up to 9 years.

Dental Assistant Salary in South Africa

The same source as above reports the dental assistant salary for South Africa at R84,000 (US$6,540) per year. A professional who just entered this field will start off at about R40,949 (US$3,192), while experienced dental assistants will earn up to R145,272 (US$11,325) after 10-15 years on the job. Bonuses can account for up to R10,665 (US$832) of this amount.

About 95% of the dental assistants working in South Africa are female, and surprisingly, only 18% have dental insurance with their job. About 72% have no type of health benefit whatsoever.

2. Experience

Experience is one of the most important factors in determining the dental assistant salary. A registered clinical dental assistant with less than 5 years of experience in an office will make less than a certified assisting hygienist with 10+ years on the job. This pay increase is natural regardless of whether they have an administrative position.

While experience does account for a significant salary increase, it starts failing to do so after the twenty-year mark. So, many dental assistants prefer to attempt moving on from the position. The most common way to do this is to register or to get certified.

This generally adds additional duties, as well as a significant pay raise and more employment opportunities. It’s an uncontested fact that the registered or certified dental assistant salary is much higher than that of a regular dental assistant.

3. Industry

The industry is perhaps the second most important factor after location when it comes to determining the dental assistant salary. If we were to look at the influence of the geographical location (within a country) vs. the industry of the profession, the industry would undoubtedly win.

Below you have an overview of the industries which these dental assistance hygiene experts can find more jobs and earn higher salaries in the US.

The industries with the highest levels of employment for people with the dental assistant salary are as follows:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Dentists’ Offices 294,990 32.81 $17.75 $36,920
Physicians’ Offices 6,080 0.24 $16.70 $34,740
Employment Services 4,320 0.12 $17.47 $36,340
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 3,920 0.20 $19.19 $39,910
Universities, Colleges, and Professional Schools 3,420 0.11 $18.18 $37,810

Meanwhile, the industries offering the highest dental assistant salaries are the following:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Insurance Carriers 80 0.01 $20.34 $42,310
State Government (OES Designation) 1,470 0.07 $19.54 $40,640
Specialty (minus Substance Abuse and Psychiatric) Hospitals 130 0.05 $19.50 $40,560
Emergency, Community Food and Housing, and Similar Relief Services 40 0.03 $19.27 $40,080
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 3,920 0.20 $19.19 $39,910

If you are interested in other jobs in his field and willing to invest more in education, you can also take a look at our guide to the orthodontist salary.

Work Hours

Back in 2014, the majority of dental assistants in the US were reported to work full time, in dentists’ offices or practices. However, working part-time isn’t unheard of in the ranks of dental assistants. Certified or registered dental assistants are far more likely to work full time than part time.

The average work week of a full-time dental assistant is generally longer than 35 hours a week – around 36 or 37. Meanwhile, the average estimated work week of a part-time dental assistant was measured to be somewhere around 25 hours long. However, this data was last collected in the summer of 2014, so some things might have changed since then.

Bonuses and Benefits Packages

The most common benefits packages registered dental assistants include medical, dental, and vision insurance, as well as a decent number of sick and paid leave days, and a 401(K) plan for those living in the US. About 36% of dental assistants get medical, 42% get dental, 14% get vision, and 43% get no insurance whatsoever.

While the average dental assistant salary is on the low end of healthcare salaries, barely higher than the minimum wage, tips, overtimes, bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing can add a few tens of thousands of dollars a year to the paycheck. In fact, bonuses usually amount to around $1,500 a year, commissions, to around $5,000, profit sharing to around $4,000, while overtimes can yield an extra $30 an hour.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for dental assistants  in the US is highly optimistic, at least according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the rate of employment for the profession is estimated to grow by 18% by 2024. That is much faster than the United States average for all occupations. Other countries report similar growth rates for this occupation regardless of certification.

This growth is believed to be caused by recent research linking oral health to the human body’s overall health. Plus, the increase in the use of hard drugs, such as meth, all over the country has also led to increasingly common oral health issues, also spurring the increase of the rate of employment. The constant increase of the elderly population is also a major contributing factor.

Conclusion

Although on the low end of the healthcare payscale, dental assistants are increasingly more common and easy to hire. Despite the fact that the dental assistant salary is located around the minimum wage, the bonuses, overtimes, and commissions make the position attractive. However, getting certified and registered offers not only a higher pay, but also a wider array of job opportunities.

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