When someone asks you whether you’re satisfied with your dental assistant role, what do you tell them? According to the results of DANB’s 2018-2019 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey, 82% of dental assistants who hold DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification reported very high or high job satisfaction, as did 75% of dental assistants who are not certified.

But what factors play a role in dental assistants’ satisfaction? Which do you consider to be most important? Read on below to learn more!

1. Salary

It’s likely no surprise that salary tops the list of job factors that matter most to dental assistants. Earning a fair wage and having opportunities for income growth can make a difference in whether you feel satisfied with your career. While some dental assistants feel satisfied with their salaries, others believe dental assistants should be paid more for all their contributions to the dental office.

Of course, salary range varies among assistants, and a number of factors can determine income. These include your location, whether you hold credentials such as DANB certification, your experience level and more. “Often, the more seasoned a dental assistant is, the better the pay,” Darlene D., EFDA, has experienced. “In my career, I’ve been offered extremely low wages to really good wages. It depends on the dentist.”

“Your salary depends on where you work,” agrees Lisa W., CDA.

2. Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is another top factor that surveyed dental assistants identified as critical. Fortunately, dental practices often offer reasonable hours. Many dental assistants say they’re able to spend their evenings and weekends away from the office — a benefit that’s not necessarily true for all jobs, especially in the healthcare field.

“I decided to become a dental assistant because I wanted to make a difference for not only myself, but for my family as well,” shares Dana H., CDA. “I was tired of the stress of working weekends and holidays in retail. Now, I get to enjoy that time with my family more.”

3. Appreciated by Employer

Another important job factor for dental assistants is knowing their employer appreciates them. Employers can show recognition in many ways. These include investing in team development, providing opportunities for education and growth, or by simply saying “thank you.”

“My feeling is that it’s important to find the right employer,” shares Carolyn G., CDA. “An employer must appreciate the skill, knowledge, patient care, dedication and work ethic of a skilled, credentialed dental assistant. That employer will recognize the assistant’s value and provide the workplace benefits to keep that employee.

“Dentists who do not seem to value their staff and do not seem to recognize that quality assistants improve their production can have a huge turnover of staff — oftentimes, with dental assistants leaving to pursue different career paths,” Carolyn continues.

4. Feeling Part of a Team

Finally, feeling part of a team also is important to dental assistants. Many dental assistants are grateful and proud to work with supportive professionals who are passionate about dentistry and serving patients together.

“What has always made my job is the people,” says Laura R., CDA, CPFDA, CRFDA, who believes that whether you work well with your colleagues can make or break your professional experience. “You can have all those technical skills, but if you’re not comfortable in your environment, it doesn’t take much to lower your job satisfaction.”


What job factors matter most to you? We want to hear from you!

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: