Dental Assistant

2022 SALARY SURVEY REPORT

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Dental Assistant Overview

From late July through early September 2021, DentalPost conducted the largest and most comprehensive dental professional salary survey of its kind. From compensation to work environments to the job turnover rate, this report contains key takeaways and charted data from responding dental assistants. 

Highlights

59% percent of responding dental assistants said they have been with their employer fewer than five years.
In 2021, 61% of full-time dental assistant salaries range from $31,000 to $50,000. 14% are earning over $50K. This is an increase over 2020, when 52% of full-time dental assistant salaries ranged from $31,000 to $50,000 and 12% were earning over $50k.
Over the last year, the percentage of dental assistants reporting total income less than or equal to $20k dropped from 8% to 4.5%.
Just over 27% of responding dental assistants said they planned to look for a new job within the following year.

How Dental Assistants Work

  • 76% work with general dentists and 24% with specialists.
  • 75% work in private dental practices, 16% in corporate dental practices, and 8% in other clinical settings such as public or community health programs.
  • The number of dental assistants working in corporate practices increased from 11% in 2020 to 16% in 2021.

How big are the dental clinics they work in?

  • 60% of all responding dental assistants work in clinics with fewer than 11 team members.

Average Hours Per Week

  • Just under 17% percent work less than 31 hours a week.
  • Nearly 74% work 31 to 40 hours a week.
  • 10% work more than 40 hours a week.

There is only a slight variance between private dental practices and corporate dental practices, with 5% more of the dental assistants working full time in corporate practices.

  • 87% work more than 31 hours a week in corporate dental practices.
  • 82% work more than 31 hours a week in private dental practices.

Satisfaction With Hours

Slightly over 57% of responding dental assistants said they are “satisfied” with their hours.

How many dental assistants work multiple jobs?

  • About one in five (21.5%) work more than one job.
    • 17% earn income from non-clinical “side gig” employment.
    • 4.5% earn income from dental-related “side gig” employment.
  • All ages are represented among those working more than one job.

Duties

Between 48% and 49% indicated their duties had been increased due to the pandemic. Of those who reported doing more, 18.5% of them said they were being compensated for the additional COVID-19 related duties.

  • 46% have administrative duties in addition to their primary dental assisting duties.
  • 31% have “Patient Coordinator” or “Treatment Coordinator” as their job title.

Income

Basis

For 91% of the responding dental assistants, income is based on an hourly wage.

Hourly Rate:

The average hourly rate of responding dental assistants is $21.95. Only 15% make less than $18.00 an hour. 

Total Income

Dental assistants, who work more than 30 hours a week, reported an average yearly income of $39,071. When DentalPost examined the average income at different ages of experience, average income rose as shown in the following chart:

When DentalPost examined the average and median income in corporate dental practices, compared to private practices, dental assistants in corporate practices earn less.

Do dental assistants earn more than in 2020?

Yes, dental assistant income has risen since our last survey:

  • In 2020, 52% of dental assistants working full-time reported income ranging from $31,000 to $50,000, and 12% were earning over $50,000.
  • In 2021, 61% of dental assistants working full-time report income ranging  from $31,000 to $50,000, and 14% are earning over $50,000.
  • Over the last year, the percentage of dental assistants reporting total income less than or equal to $20,000 dropped from 8% to 4.5%. 

Income By State:

DentalPost asked the survey audience to enter the total income they anticipated making in 2021 from clinical practice. The following statistics, ranked from lowest to highest of individual states, reflect the total 2021 income reported by dental assistants working more than 30 hours a week. Dental assistants in Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Washington DC did not respond to the survey.

$46,000 to $50,000
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Utah
  • Minnesota
  • Washington
  • Massachusetts
$41,000 to $45,000
  • Illinois
  • New Mexico
  • Maine
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • North Dakota
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
$36,000 to $40,000
  • Vermont
  • Arkansas
  • South Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Arizona
  • North Carolina
  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • Wisconsin
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
$30,000 to $35,000
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Texas
  • Nebraska
  • Virginia
  • Georgia
  • Michigan
  • Florida
Less than $30,000
  • Louisiana
  • Wyoming
  • Kansas
  • West Virginia
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee

Last Pay Raise

  • 44% of responding dental assistants received a raise within the last year.
  • 69% of dental assistants received a pay raise in the last two years.
  • More than a quarter of those received pay raises in the last five years indicate their raise was greater than 6%.

Income Satisfaction

  • 40% of responding dental assistants reported they were “dissatisfied” to “very dissatisfied” with their annual income.
  • 36% reported they felt “neutral” about their income.
  • Only 24% felt “satisfied” to “very satisfied”.

The average annual income of those “dissatisfied” and “very dissatisfied” is below $35,000.

Turnover

Longevity With Current Employer:
  • 42% have been with their employer less than three years. 
  • Only 30% have been with their current employer more than seven years.
Job Applications:

More than one-third of responding dental assistants applied for one or more new jobs last year.

Job Application Plans:

Nearly 40% of responding dental assistants working in corporate dental practices said they intend to look for a new job within the following year.

31% of responding dental assistants working in private dental practices said they intend to look for a new job within the following year.

Job Satisfaction:

Open comments indicate the desire for greater pay is top of mind. The following chart shows the sources of dissatisfaction mentioned by the dental assistants who left comments.

*Comments reflect fatigue, stress, and feeling unappreciated.

Retirement

Only 4% of currently working dental assistants plan to retire in the next two years.

Who Responded to DentalPost’s 2021 Dental Assistant Salary Survey?

45% of responding dental assistants had DANB certification, and 50% had expanded duties certification.

Age

Responding dental assistants fell into the following age groups:

*57% of responding dental assistants were younger than 45.

Experience:

  • Nearly half of the dental assistants who responded to the survey had fewer than 15 years of experience.
  • 29% had 25 or more years of experience.

Size of the Community They Work In:

Gender

Race/Ethnic Diversity:

Among all dental positions surveyed, dental assistants were the most racially/ethnically diverse.

Education & Training:

  • 85% have completed a college-level program in dental assisting.
  • 45% have DANB certification.
  • 50% have expanded duties certification.

How many are sole income earners?

37% of responding dental assistants said they are the sole income earner in their household.