2021 Dental Salary Survey

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In partnership with RDH Magazine.

In 2020, DentalPost conducted the largest dental industry survey of its kind, surveying 11,030 dental professionals nationwide about compensation, benefits, work-life balance, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on their compensation.

View Dental Salary Report by Position

Dental Hygienist

Dental Assistant
Front Office

COVID-19 Impact on Dental Compensation

Employee Turnover

  • 35% will seek new employment within the next year.
  • 7.5% say they will wait until circumstances improve.


  • 36% of Dentists reported being compensated less following the pandemic.
  • Conversely, Dental Hygienists were slightly more likely to receive higher compensation following Covid-19 compared with their pre-pandemic income.
  • 11% of dental professionals who are working more hours are being compensated less than pre-Covid.
  • 73% reported making the same income compared to pre-Covid, while 15% reported making less income compared to pre-Covid.

Work Hours & Time Off

  • Over 60% reported having worked between 31-40 hours a week post-Covid.
  • Over 55% reported having worked roughly amount as pre-Covid.
  • Many respondents stated they were required to use paid vacation time and sick time to cover the period of office shutdown, during which time they received no payment.

Survey Highlights by Position


Average full-time Dental Hygienist salaries range from $51,000 to $70,000, with over 15% of RDHs earning $80,000+ annually. Notably, RDH salaries well-exceed the median income for full-time working females in the United States, which averaged $47,299 in 2019.

Average full-time Dental Hygienist salary.

59% percent reported receiving a pay raise in the past two years. Still, there is general dissatisfaction with both pay raises and how those raises are calculated. Less than 15% of respondents were satisfied with either. While 32% of RDHs reported receiving some type of bonus in the last two years, several respondents expressed disappointment in their written survey responses about the elimination of their bonus due to practice shutdowns and production loss.

Key Takeaways

  • 70% married
  • 75% live in a joint income household
  • 45% of RDHs who reported being the sole income provider in their family are aged 65+
  • DSOs are 2x more likely to pay a percentage of production earnings to their RDHs compared with private dental practices
  • 65% work full time
  • While the majority of Dental Hygienists are satisfied with their work schedules, 25% report they prefer to work fewer hours
  • Dental Hygienists over the age of 50 are more likely to change to part time work status

Click here to view average Dental Hygienist salaries and hourly rates by state.

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The majority of Dental Assistants earned between $31,000 and $40,000 annually. 28% earn below $30,000 per year, and slightly more than 10% of Dental Assistants are paid $50,000 or more annually.

32% of respondents reported receiving some type of bonus in the past two years, and 65% received a pay raise in the same time period.

Average full-time Dental Assistant salary.

Key Takeaways

  • 10% currently unemployed – a relatively high statistic compared with just 4% of Dental Hygienists who reported being unemployed. This indicates that during the pandemic, Dental Assistants were among the employees with the highest probability of being laid off and furloughed.
  • Dental Assistants have the highest turnover position on the dental team. 67% have been working with their current practice for five years or less.
  • Nearly 50% of respondents applied for at least one new job last year.
  • The majority average 36 – 40 hours of work per week and are paid hourly.
  • 28% worked reduced hours compared with pre-Covid, while 18% are working increased hours.
  • Nearly 20% would prefer to work more hours. If their hours are reduced, Dental Assistants said they are likely to seek new employment.

Click here to view average Dental Assistant salaries and hourly rates by state.

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48% of Front Office team members reported earning less than $40,000 per year, while 38% earn between $41,000 – $60,000. As can be expected, salaries increase in conjunction with experience, but rarely do these team members exceed $70,000 per year in salary.

Average full-time Front Office Receptionist salary.

Key Takeaways

  • Approximately one third are sole income providers.
  • 82% are paid hourly.
  • A third reported getting a pay increase over the last three years.
  • 14% work for a DSO or group dental practice.
  • 57% report 15+ years of experience in the dental field.
  • 30% perform clinical duties as part of their role, making direct contact with patients, including performing perio exams.
  • 42% have worked fewer than three years with their current employer.
  • Income varies considerably by state with New Mexico at the very bottom of the pay scale, and Nevada, Louisiana and Idaho close behind.
  • Of those aged 54 or under, one third say they plan to seek new employment in the next year.

Click here to view average Dental Front Office Receptionist salaries and hourly rates by state.

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The majority (60%) of Dentist respondents had 20+ years of experience. 40% estimated their annual income exceeding $200,000 in 2020. This suggests a number of the respondents are likely also practice owners. 36% of Dentists surveyed said they have taken a pay cut this year.

14% of Dentists’ salaries range from $126,000- $150,000, 11% between $151,000- 175,000 and 8% fell in the $176,000-$200,000 range.

Average full-time Dentist salary.

Key Takeaways

  • 40% female.
  • Two-thirds practice in metropolitan areas.
  • 25% of respondents aged 25 – 34 years old plan to pursue new employment opportunities in the next six months, suggesting they are associates who are part of a DSO or private dental practice.
  • Highest paying states: Colorado, Maine, Montana and Kansas.
  • Lowest paying states: Alaska, New Mexico, Washington DC, Hawaii and Connecticut.

Click here to view average Dentist salaries and hourly rates by state.

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Read the full report.

RDH Article

State of the RDH Career Report

DE Article

State of the Dental Industry Report