How Much Do Dental Assistants Make?

Happy dentist looking at an x-ray with his young patient at the office - healthcare and medicine concepts.
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As its job title suggests, a dental assistant is an individual who helps dentists with a variety of tasks. They perform such duties as taking images and impressions, assisting dentists during treatment procedures and making patients feel more at ease in many types of offices, from general practices to specialty clinics and hospitals.

For those who like helping people, being a dental assistant can be a very rewarding career. Here’s a closer look at how much they can expect to make.

How Much Do Dental Assistants Make on Average?

According to data from Indeed, the average hourly base pay for a dental assistant is $20.95. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts hourly pay ranging from $14.22 on the low end to $28.63 on the high end. 

Where Do Dental Assistants Get Paid the Most?

The best-paying states for dental assistants based on pay are:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Oregon
  3. Washington
  4. Massachusetts
  5. California
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What Factors Can Influence How Much a Dental Assistant Makes?

Numerous factors like years of experience, level of education and location are some of the factors that affect dental assistant wages. Someone just getting started in the field can make an average of $17.65 an hour. Meanwhile, a dental assistant with over 10 years of experience could make an average of $25.05 an hour.

Certification and specialty knowledge can also play a role. While getting certified isn’t required by every state for entry-level dental assistants, it can be helpful for increasing earning potential. A certification shows that a dental assistant has the knowledge and skills required to perform the job. 

Salary data shows that dental assistants with an Expanded Functions Dental Assistant certification can make 7.51% more than those who don’t have it. Those with a Radiology certification earn 3.85% more and those with a Basic Life Support certification make 6.05% more.

These aren’t the only certificates a dental assistant can earn. Here are a few others:

  • Certified Dental Assistant
  • National Entry-Level Dental Assistant
  • Certified Orthodontic Assistant
  • Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant
  • Certified Preventative Functions Dental Assistant

How Does a Dental Assistant Salary Compare To Similar Professions?

Dental assistants in the U.S. make an average of $20.95 an hour. Here’s a look at the average pay for similar positions in the dental field:

  • Dental hygienists: $43.59 an hour or $90,667 a year
  • Orthodontic assistant: $20.37 an hour or $42,370 a year
  • Dental technician: $19.75 an hour or $41,080 a year
  • Dental receptionist: $18.45 an hour or $38,376 a year
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Final Take

How much a dental assistant makes varies from state to state. Dental assistants in different parts of the same state may make very different salaries, too. One way to boost earning potential is by earning certifications, even if it isn’t a state requirement. Certification shows that a dental assistant has what it takes to succeed in their job.

Information is accurate as of Sept. 21, 2022.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Jessica Moore is a full-time freelance writer based out of Georgia. She has been writing professionally for five years, covering a variety of topics including finance, pharmaceuticals, and insurance. Outside of writing, she is an avid baker and loves to travel. She resides with her husband and their young daughter, along with a stubborn English Bulldog and a mouth rescue cat. 
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