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Dental Assistant Salary Guide

Dec 04, 2008

There are a number of different factors that can determine what type of salary you might make as a dental assistant, but education is in the first place.

These factors are the following:

  • The area where you are working.
  • The amount of education you have obtained and quality of the school where you attended.
  • The size of the facility where you are working and the number of employees.
  • The skills and the responsibilities you have.
  • The type of facility you are employed in.

To get an idea of the average dental assistant salary for the area where you live, a simple online search will help you see the differences based on location alone. Naturally, if you live in a city with a higher cost of living, you are probably going to expect a larger salary but other factors influence what your income will be as well.

According to PayScale, a dental assistant's salary, by years of experience, is currently the following (updated aprl 2011):

  • Less than 1 year: $19,832 - $30,005
  • 1-4 years: $20,703 - $29,937
  • 5-9 years: $21,294 - $31,948
  • 10-19 years: $24,112 - $37,363
  • 20 years or more: $24,936 - $40,637

There used to be few educational opportunities for dental assistants and training was provided on-the-job. Today there is a great demand for dental assistants as the demand for quality preventive healthcare continues to grow. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, this trend will go up to 20% in 2018.

Education makes a difference

Dentists aren't as willing to hire someone who has not been trained. It takes a lot of time and effort on the part of a dentist to train a new employee and they find it much more convenient to hire someone who already has the skills to go to work.

The difference that your education can make in your salary is both in quality and quantity. The dental assistant who has an associate degree from an accredited college is going to make a more desirable employee than an individual who has only taken a short dental assistant program which offered no hands-on training. You also have the option of taking a program that will offer only a diploma instead of a degree and there are some dentists who feel that this is all the training you will need.

Most states require dental assistants to be x-ray certified now although in the past, x-ray certification was an option in many states. This usually requires you to take an additional written exam. Although you may be required to be certified to take x-rays, your salary may depend on whether this is actually a part of your job.

There are different types of facilities where you can find employment as a dental assistant with different numbers of employees. Generally, the larger the facility, the higher your salary will be. You can also expect to receive a higher salary if you have specialized skills that apply to your position.

Often, you can expect to increase the average dental assistant salary in the office where you are working if you are fluent in a second language with Spanish being the most popular choice. This is more often the case in some areas where there are more Spanish speaking residents, but you probably already know if your area is one of them. Otherwise, gaining experience on the job is the greatest tool for getting a boost to your salary no matter where you are working!

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