Whether you’re new to dental assisting or have many years of experience, you’re probably interested to learn about the earning power of dental assistants.


“How much do dental assistants make?” is one of the top career questions for dental assistants. That’s why the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) conducts its dental assisting salary survey every two years.


We’ve combed through DANB’s latest salary survey data to share some highlights about dental assistant wages.


Certification Pays

DANB’s salary survey shows that dental assistants who hold DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification earn a median hourly wage of $20.46 compared to the $17.76 non-certified assistants earn. These wages are based on national averages. So it’s important to look at your unique situation when considering salary expectations.


Location Matters

Dental assisting salaries can vary depending on many factors, such as location, experience and credentials. For example, dental assistants in major metropolitan areas tend to earn more than dental assistants who live in smaller towns.


According to DANB’s salary survey, CDA-certified assistants earn $22.50 per hour in major metropolitan areas compared to CDA certificants in rural areas who earn $19.99 per hour. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows similar findings.


Experience Leads to Earnings

Experience is also an important factor. Dental assistants with more experience tend to earn more per hour than those who are new to the field. Certified Dental Assistant certificants with 31 to 35 years of experience reported earning $24 per hour — compared to CDA certificants with less than 5 years of experience earning $16.75 per hour.


Consider the Benefits

Dental assistant hourly pay is not the only issue to consider: It is worth looking at whether you get other benefits. According to DANB’s survey results, dental assistants who hold CDA certification received more workplace benefits compared to those who are not certified. Top benefits include paid vacation (85%), paid holidays (84%), retirement plans (67%), paid sick leave (55%) and free dental care (54%).


When thinking about your job, it’s important to look at the whole picture. You can ask your employer or office manager about your benefits package to get the full picture. For example, being reimbursed for CE courses or receiving paid time off may offset a slightly lower hourly salary.


To learn more about salary and career information for dental assistants, visit www.danbcertified.org.


What other salary or career questions would you like answered?