Overall, dental assistants enjoy high job satisfaction, according to the results of DANB’s 2018-2019 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey. But what are some of the factors that influence satisfaction? We reviewed the survey results and identified five factors that may be part of the reasons why dental assistants enjoy their jobs so much. Read on to learn more.

1. Salary

It’s likely no surprise that surveyed dental assistants with the highest salaries also reported the highest job satisfaction. Specifically, the survey shows the difference in hourly wages of those with very high job satisfaction versus very low job satisfaction was a $5-per-hour difference for DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certificants and a $2.13-per-hour difference for non-certified assistants.

Just ask Susan C., who says: “After more than 34 years, I have realized I didn’t just find a job to fill my time, but I found a really satisfying career. I feel valued and appreciated, and my dental assisting salary has served my financial needs through all that life has thrown at me.”

2. Employer Appreciation

Additionally, the survey found that dental assistants with the highest job satisfaction reported that they feel valued by their employers. Consider that 60% of surveyed CDA certificants and 58% of surveyed non-certified dental assistants strongly agree or agree that they feel valued by their employer. Higher job satisfaction may also have a relationship with workplace loyalty: Those who reported the highest job satisfaction were less likely to report that they thought about leaving their current employer.

“There are dentist employers who really appreciate their assistants and are very generous,” says Kelly S. “I feel very lucky to work for a great employer!”

3. Certification Status

While it’s true that job satisfaction is reportedly high for all dental assistants, those who hold DANB certification report even greater satisfaction levels. When asked, 82% of CDA certificants reported high or very high job satisfaction, while 75% of non-certified assistants reported high or very high job satisfaction.

“Personally, I feel DANB certification gives you a higher level of personal and career satisfaction and a higher level of professionalism,” agrees Natalie K., CDA, COA, CPFDA, CRFDA, CDPMA, COMSA.


4. Workplace and Practice Type

When it comes to job satisfaction, there also may be trends with workplace type and satisfaction level. Although the response rates were small, the survey showed very high job satisfaction was reported most often by dental assistants who work in more specialized environments, such as some specialty practices, dental product companies, the military and Indian Health Services, among other workplaces.

“My work as a dental assistant in the military has taken me around the world, to places like Alaska, the Mariana Islands, and even Mozambique, as well as to places closer to home,” shares Katharine N., CDA, CRFDA. “My experience has been happily rewarding.”

5. Practice Size

Some dental assistants may love the intimate, family feel of a smaller practice, while other dental assistants thrive on the busy and bustling setting of a larger office. Although preferences vary from assistant to assistant, the survey results indicated that CDA certificants working at solo and small practices (with 1-2 dentists) were more likely to have very high job satisfaction than those working in larger practices.

In comparison, surveyed non-certified assistants reported higher job satisfaction working in dental practices with up to 9 dentists. Those working in dental practices with 10 or more dentists reported the lowest job satisfaction.

“I have worked in offices of different sizes, both with bigger and smaller teams, some more cohesive than others,” shares Rain, a dental assistant. “I prefer working in a smaller office.”

What other factors do you believe influence dental assistants’ job satisfaction? Contact us.

Learn More

This post is part of a series highlighting DANB’s 2018-2019 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey. To learn more, read the other posts or visit the survey website.

Other posts in the series:

Also, learn more about the research: