Back to Blog Home

Dental professionals are going places—literally. As the demand for hygienists and assistants increases, more professionals are joining the industry and, as a result, driving up salaries in the United States.

However, as expected, not all places pay the same. Due to population density and cost of living factors, the discrepancy in wages can waver considerably. If you’re curious about how dental hygienists and dental assistant salaries compare around the country, here are the highest- and lowest-earning states as reported in our salary survey.

States with the highest wages

If you want to maximize your salary, there are a few key areas that reported the highest earnings. 

Dental professionals living in highly-populated areas on the west coast and in the northeast reported the greatest salaries. More specifically, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona hygienists made the most in the west; Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts assistants were paid the most in the northeast.

The highest-paid hygienists were in Nevada, with an average salary of $76,500. The highest-paid assistants were in Maine raking in an average salary of $50,833—almost $10,000 more than our surveyed average for full-time assistants.

States with the lower average wages

While you can still make a livable wage, you may find yourself making less-than-average if you live in parts of the southeast or in less-populated Western states. Consider referencing nationwide averages for hygienists and assistants when negotiating salaries in these states.

Dental professionals living in Alabama and Tennessee reported lower than average wages; hygienists and assistants also reported lower than average wages in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, and New Mexico.

However, Utah was the state with the lowest-paid dental hygienists with an average salary of $33,750; comparatively, the lowest-paid dental assistants were living in Louisiana with an average salary of $21,428.

What does this mean for me?

As mentioned, higher and lower salaries can be due to a variety of factors: cost of living, licensing requirements, tenure of professionals, and demand play a big factor in determining wages. It’s also interesting to note that the middle of the country was fairly consistent among wages across both hygienists and assistants, falling in the average to slightly above-average salary range. While you probably shouldn’t move based on reported salary alone, salaries are important to consider when looking at your long-term career.

The good news is that the demand for dental hygienists and assistants is up overall; as projected, dentistry will grow by almost 20 percent by 2026! So wherever you decide to put down roots, you’re in a career that will be here for a long time!

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, set up a free job seeker account now on DentalPost. We’re connecting over 750,000 professionals with jobs they love every day.

Featured Posts

These 7 exercises are perfect for dental professionals

The 7 Best Exercises for Dental Professionals

Posted July 15, 2019

Sitting hunched over patients’ mouths for several hours a day is extremely taxing on your body. Dental hygienists and dentists are prone to problems as a result of poor working posture, eye strain, and unnatural hand positioning. Regular exercise, however, can help you minimize those problems and enjoy benefits such as: Greater comfort while working […]

Read more

Dental Hygiene, the flexible, inflexible job.

Posted July 05, 2019

One of the great things about a career in dental hygiene is how flexible the job is. I have worked as little as two days a month when my kids were little. It was perfect. But for as flexible as the work days can be, once you commit to a day the flexibility ends. You […]

Read more
How technology is changing dental hygienist duties

Is New Dental Technology Changing Dental Hygienist Duties?

Posted July 04, 2019

Each year delivers more new dental technology that makes dentistry easier, faster, and more cost-effective than ever before. But like many other hygienists, this trend has you a bit concerned. You’re wondering how all the rapidly-developing technology will impact your dental hygienist duties.  Could new dental technology devalue the work you do or render your […]

Read more