Dental Assistant Salary

What kind of salary do dental assistants make?

The rate of pay for dental assistants can range depending on a number of factors, including location of employment and an individual's experience on the job. Their mean annual wage, as of May 2014, was $35,390, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That calculates to a mean hourly wage of $17.02, the BLS reports. While new hires may have earnings at the lower end of the pay scale, specialized assistants with more experience may be at the upper end. Learn more about how to become a dental assistant.

Is this a high demand field?

Job opportunities for dental assistants are expected to grow by 25 percent, from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. This is considered much faster than average job growth for all occupations and could result in more than 75,000 new positions becoming available. Driving that demand is the need for dentists to hire reliable assistants to help them with some of their more routine activities so that they can be freed up to do more difficult, urgent tasks. Also as dental offices grow, more dental assistants are expected to be needed, according to the BLS.

Is there room for advancement in this field?

Dental assistants trained on the job may be able to advance by completing an education or even by obtaining certification to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) or a Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA) through the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB). They can also study to become an Expanded Function Dental Assistant, but the names and requirements for this role can vary by state. Some states even have up to five different levels of dental assistants, according to The Dale Foundation, which is operated by the DANB. Dental assistants may also study to become dental hygienists, an occupation that typically requires an associate degree and that pays more.

Why seek certification and continuing education?

According to The Dale Foundation, just 36,000 of the 295,000 dental assistants working in the U.S. are certified. This gives dental assistants with certification the opportunity to stand out among others and also to prove their knowledge. Continuing education (CE) can also prove advantageous, helping dental assistants earn more money and allowing them to stay up-to-date in the field, reports The Dale Foundation. CE courses can be taken through a number of different organizations, including the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) and others.


  1. Dental Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-6
  2. Dental Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319091.htm
  3. Dental Assistant FAQS, The Dale Foundation, http://www.dalefoundation.org/For-Dental-Assistants/Dental-Assistant-FAQs
  4. Dental Hygienists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm
  5. Exams & Certifications, Dental Assisting National Board, Inc., no date. http://www.danb.org/Become-Certified/Exams-and-Certifications.aspx
  6. How to Become an Expanded Function Dental Assistant, The Dale Foundation, no date. http://www.dalefoundation.org/For-Dental-Assistants/How-To-Become-An-Expanded-Function-Dental-Assistant

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