Dental Assistant Salary

Dental AssitantDental assistants can be found working in dentists offices, performing a variety of tasks and functions. The duties that they perform are integral to the successful operation of any dental practice. Their responsibilities range from assisting the dentist during dental procedures to managing the day-to-day operations of the office. It is not uncommon to find a dental assistant taking x-rays for one patient and then handling appointments and billing for another. The requirements for becoming a dental assistant vary by state with some requiring the completion of a certification program from an accredited school.


National Average Dental Assistant Salary



Salary Range

Hourly Wage                          Annual Wage

                    Upper:             $23.82                                       $49,540

                    Median:           $17.02                                       $35,390

                    Lower:             $11.82                                       $24,580



States With Highest Salary

State                                    Avg. Hourly Wage                 Avg. Annual Wage

  • New Hampshire                          $21.43                                     $44,580
  • Alaska                                             $20.94                                     $43,550
  • Minnesota                                     $20.75                                     $43,160
  • Massachusetts                             $20.00                                     $41,590
  • North Dakota                               $19.71                                      $40,990

*All statistical data is from the U.S. Department of Labor and is updated quarterly

Job Description:

A dental assistant can be found doing a great variety of jobs within a dentist’s office. As can be assumed from the job title, they act as assistants for dentists during dental procedures. This can include everything from preparing an examination room and sterilizing dental instruments, to taking x-rays of the patients teeth.

They also perform organizational duties such as the scheduling of appointments, record keeping, and billing. This profession shares some of the same responsibilities as surgical techs, nurses, office managers, radiology technicians, and several other health care professions.

Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Preparing examination rooms
  • Preparing the mixture used for taking impressions of teeth
  • The sterilization of dental tools
  • Handing the dentist necessary tools during dental procedures
  • Assisting with dental procedures
  • Discussing dental related issues with patients
  • Calming patients who are nervous
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Taking x-rays
  • Bill Processingfindaschoolbutton


Work Environment:

Dental AssistantDental assistants work alongside dentists and dental hygienists, with the majority working regular full-time hours. A dentist can specialize in a specific area of dentistry, therefore someone may be employed by an office that specializes in pediatric dentistry while another person works in an office that serves patients of all ages. Jobs are also available working for cosmetic dentists and orthodontists.  This career offers a choice if one wants to work in a specialty office.

A person who goes through dental assistant training learns how to use various types of equipment. One example is an air and water syringe. This tool is used to spray water on a tooth to rinse it as dental work is being performed. Air can also be sprayed onto a tooth to dry it during a procedure. Another piece of equipment is a small suction hose. This tool removes saliva from a patient’s mouth as he or she is being examined. An x-ray machine is another important piece of equipment used in this profession.

Safety is part of the curriculum taught in dental assistant schools. It’s important for these professionals to protect themselves and their patients from germs. Consequently, they wear rubber gloves, surgical masks and safety glasses when they work with a patient’s teeth. They also wear scrubs to protect themselves from bacteria. When x-ray of a patient’s teeth are taken, he or she steps out of the examination room. This helps to protect them against any unnecessary exposure to radiation.

How To Become A Dental Assistant:

Dental Assistant Schools:

The educational requirements for this career varies according to the state in which they will be working, some states requiring the completion of an accredited training program while other states do not require any formal training at all.  In states without any requirements most training is completed while on the job.  Of course, people who have graduated from an accredited dental assistant training program are more desirable to potential employers.findaschoolbutton

Individuals who attend dental assistant schools take courses on how to use various types of equipment and tools. There are other courses that teach students about the anatomy of the mouth, how to prevent infection, how to properly file patient records and more.  Most programs are completed within one to two years, with students receiving either certification or an Associates degree.

Dental Assistant Certification and Licensing:

In order to become certified, eligible candidates must pass an examination. In order to take the test successful completion of an accredited program is necessary, though in some states the only prerequisite for taking the exam is receiving on-the-job training. Some states require a dental assistant to obtain a license to perform certain procedures.  Someone interested in this career would be wise to check the requirements of his or her own state.


Who Should Become a Dental Assistant?

A major part of this work involves dealing with patients. Consequently, anyone considering this career should enjoy interacting with people. Oftentimes, a they must deal with patients who are nervous or hesitant about visiting the dentist’s office. An individual who is both patient and understanding will likely find success in this occupation.

Organizational skills are helpful when working with patient records and completing administrative tasks. One of the most valuable traits that someone in this profession can have is a friendly nature. A professional with a friendly demeanor is a welcome sight for any patient entering a dental office.


How Much Does A Dental Assistant Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual dental assistant salary is $36,260. Salaries can range from $24,580 for the bottom 10% of earners to $49,540 for those in the 90th percentile.  The state with the highest average salary is New Hampshire with an annual mean salary of $44,580.

Factors That Can Influence Salary:

There are a few factors that can affect the salary of someone working in this field. For instance, if the individual has taken the national exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant, he or she can earn more than someone who doesn’t have this qualification. In addition, someone with several years of experience is likely to earn more than someone who is just starting out in the career. An individual who has several years under their belt has observed and helped with more dental procedures. He or she has also been able to establish a reputation for thorough, reliable work.

Someone working in a busy pediatric dentistry office located in a big city will command a higher salary than someone working in a dentist’s office located in a less populated area. Certainly, well-trained, efficient dental assistants are appreciated in any dentist’s office.

Career Path:

Someone working in this career has opportunities for promotion. He or she can study for an associate or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene to become a dental hygienist. Someone who finds this work extremely rewarding may want to garner more education and pursue a career as a dentist.

Organizational skills and years of experience dealing with patients can transfer over to a successful career as a medical assistant in a physician’s office. The person would still be serving patients, but in another area of the healthcare field.


Job Outlook:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for dental assistants is expected to increase by 19% between 2014 and 2024.  is is much higher than the national average of 7% during the same time frame. Due to an aging population the healthcare industry as a whole will continue to see healthy growth in the coming years.

Dental Assistant Schools

Matching School Ads
  • Apply At Fortis College Today! Explore the Career Programs.


  • Dental Assistant Program
  • Dental Assisting
  • Expanded Function Dental Assistant
Locations:  Grand Prairie

Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, is dedicated to helping students gain the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed. Drawing from over 30 years of career school experience.


  • Dental Assistant Diploma
  • Associate of Occupational Science Degree in Medical Assisting-Clinical Concentration
Locations:  Norfolk


Online Education That Fits Your Life

For 80 years, we’ve been preparing students for career success. We’ve led the wayso that our students can too.

Globally Renowned Purdue to Acquire Kaplan University

Purdue University, one of the nation's most respected universities, will acquire Kaplan University and create a new, nonprofit, public institution within the Purdue system. Pending regulatory approvals, this exciting transition is expected to take place later this year. This change will be seamless—during the transition, you will still be able to enroll at Kaplan University, earn a high-quality education, and meet your educational and career goals.


  • Medical Assisting
  • Health Information Management

Ultimate Medical Academy is a nonprofit healthcare career school—and students are at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we offer exclusive student services through your career training and beyond, beginning from the time you enroll online or at our campus in Clearwater, FL. We’ll also guide you toward the right program for your goals, and help you understand the affordability of your career training. So let us know you’re interested, and we’ll discuss how UMA can help you succeed.


Gainful employment information can be found at and includes information on tuition, loan debt, completion, placement, and occupations.


  • Diploma - Medical Administrative Assistant
  • A.S. - Healthcare Technology and Systems
  • Diploma - Healthcare Technology and Systems
  • Interested in Helping Others? Get Educated in the Medical Field.
  • Medical Assisting, Nursing, Health Sciences Degree Programs and More From Top Colleges that Fit Your Needs.
  • Build the Capabilities and Connections to Power Your Future.
  • Find Schools Online or Near You & Get Info for FREE Today!


100% Online & No Standardized Testing

We are committed to helping you achieve your goals and complete your degree as quickly as possible.


  • Online Bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, Psychology, IT, Healthcare Management & Public Health
  • Over 115 years of delivering quality education and personalized attention to students
  • Provide a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services
  • Give students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
  • We're now Non-Profit.


Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.


  • Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
  • As a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university, NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, technology management, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy.


  • Join GCU's Colangelo College of Business and start down the path to a successful business career.
  • Bachelor's and master's degrees that help prepare students to be business leaders.
  • Leading-edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.
  • Online and evening classes designed to meet the needs of working students and adults.
  • Committed to providing students a values-based education centered on Christian principles


Similar Careers: