Are you interested in dental assistant jobs? Read on as we discuss the average salary of dental assistants across the United States and Canada.
Dental assistants serve as aides to dentists and their hygienists. With the American Dental Assistant’s Association as their professional organization, dental assistants in the U.S. can become registered and certified on a state as well as a national level.
The U.S. Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers five national certifications:
- National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA®)
- Certified Dental Assistant™ (CDA®)
- Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA®)
- Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA®)
- Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA®)
The higher the certification and specialization level, the higher salary you can expect.
According to the Canadian Dental Assistants Association, each Canadian province has its own governing body with specific requirements. 74% of Canadian dental assistants are registered, certified, or licensed under the jurisdiction of the provincial Dental Assisting Regulatory Authorities (DARA).
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
Each dental assistant job description varies by employer but generally includes:
- Helping with dental procedures
- Creating tooth molds and dental impressions
- Going over patient care
- Preparing patients for surgery
- Utilizing dental instruments and equipment
- Cleaning and sterilizing instruments
- Preparing exam and procedure rooms
- Handling customer service needs
Which Dental Assistants Make the Most Money?
Dental assisting pay varies based on skill, experience, and certification level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021, the top-paying dental assistants work in the following areas:
|Employer Industry||Average 2021 Salary (Average Mean Wage)|
|State governments (excluding schools and hospitals)||$50,170|
|Specialty hospitals (excluding psychiatric and substance abuse)||$48,210|
|Home healthcare services||$47,930|
|General medical and surgical hospitals||$47,180|
|Federal Executive Branch (OEWS designation)||$45,970|
Please note, however, that these choice jobs represent less than one half of one percent of all dental assistant jobs. The majority of dental assistants, by far, work in dentists’ offices.
Average Dental Assistant Annual Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for dental assistants in the U.S. is $42,510 per year, often including 401k and benefits. Acquiring different certifications or passing various Dental Assisting National Board courses may help you earn above this average salary. The dental care and dental hygiene fields offer many career growth opportunities.
What Is the Hourly Wage of a Dental Assistant?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for U.S. dental assistants in 2021 was $20.44 per hour. The Canadian Job Bank lists the wage range for dental assistants (NOC 3411) as between $18 and $32 CAD per hour.
Registered Dental Assistant Salary
According to 2023 data from Salary.com, RDAs in the U.S. make a median annual salary of $40,890 per year.
Certified Dental Assistant Salary
According to the DANB 2020-2021 Survey, those with CDA certification make a median hourly wage of $22.09, or almost $46,000 per year.
Dental Assistant Salary Across States and Provinces
Your pay may vary depending on where you live since salaries vary widely by state. Below, we look at the average wages for dental assistants in a sampling of U.S. states and Canadian provinces according to ZipRecruiter and, in Canada, the Canadian Job Bank. Please note that ZipRecruiter’s figures are significantly lower than those from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, ZipRecruiter provides an average U.S. salary of $35,961, as compared to the government figure of $42,510, so please make comparisons accordingly.
Dental Assistant Salary, North Carolina (N.C.)
Dental assistants in North Carolina typically make $26,051 per year or $12.52 per hour. NC is the lowest paying state in the entire United States for dental assistants. The highest paying cities in N.C. are Greensboro, Gastonia, and Greenville.
Dental Assistant Salary, Texas
Texas dental assistants make around $32,632 per year or $15.69 per hour, with a pay range from $18,607 to $42,973.
Dental Assistant Salary, Florida
Florida dental assistant salaries rank 43 out of all U.S. states. The average FL dental assistant makes $29,126 per year or $14 per hour.
Dental Assistant Salary, California
California dental assistant salaries are, on average, $35,835 per year or $17.23 per hour.
Dental Assistant Salary, Arizona (AZ)
Arizona dental assistants make an average salary of $32,034 per year or $15.40 per hour.
Dental Assistant Salary, Louisiana
Dental assistants in Louisiana make an average of $30,619 per year or $14.72 per hour. Salaries in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Metairie all exceed the state’s average.
Dental Assistant Salary, Colorado
Dental assistants typically make around $30,455 each year or $14.64 per hour in Colorado. The highest reported salaries are in Lakewood, Louisville, and Centennial.
Dental Assistant Salary, Missouri
Missouri’s average dental assistant pay is $27,985 per year or $13.45 per hour. By working in Columbia, Kansas City, or St. Charles, you may make around 22% to 30% higher than the state’s average.
Dental Assistant Salary, Georgia
Georgia dental assistants make an average of $30,904 per year or $14.86 per hour. Cities like Atlanta, Savannah, and Johns Creek all pay higher.
Dental Assistant Salary, Washington
The highest paying state for dental assistants in the United States is Washington. Topping the U.S. salary charts, Washington dental assistants make an average of $40,032 per year or $19.25 per hour.
Dental Assistant Salary in British Columbia, Canada (B.C.)
Dental assisting in British Columbia usually pays between $18-32 CAD per hour per year, depending on your experience level.
Dental Assistant Salary in Alberta, Canada
According to the Canadian Job Bank, dental assistants in Alberta make an average wage between $21-35 CAD per hour.
Dental Assistant Salary in Ontario, Canada
Dental assistants in Ontario, Canada, are able to make between $18-28 CAD per hour, with a median salary of $23, according to the Canadian Job Bank. The most lucrative geographic areas are the Hamilton–Niagara Peninsula Region and the Toronto Region.
If you’re considering a dental assistant career, hopefully, this article has helped clarify how much you might make and where you could work to maximize your earnings.
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