What’s My Earning Potential?
Dental assistant is an in-demand allied health position that includes both clinical and administrative duties. It’s also a growing profession with plenty of opportunities for growth.
In this Article
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual median salary for a dental assistant is $41,180. But there are many factors that can affect your salary, including where you live.
Dental Assistant Salaries by State
Salaries for dental assistants can vary significantly by state and metro area. The highest salaries for dental assistants are spread across the country and are likely to be in states that have shortages of qualified dental assistants. You may also find higher-than-average salaries in states where there is increased demand for dental services due to a higher concentration of older adults.
Median Salary: $41,180
Top 10%: $58,390
Projected job growth: 6.6%
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$35,680||$29,710||$68,490|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 median salary; projected job growth through 2029. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
Highest-Paying Cities for Dental Assistants
A shortage of qualified dental assistants and a high cost of living can often inflate wages in a city or region. The 15 highest-paying metropolitan areas are spread from coast to coast in the U.S., indicating a widespread demand for dental assistants.
|Metropolitan Area||Annual Median Wage|
|Santa Rosa, California||$59,590|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Bloomington, Wisconsin||$56,690|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California||$56,410|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California||$54,880|
|Portsmouth, New Hampshire-Maine||$54,670|
|Bismarck, North Dakota||$53,810|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California||$52,930|
|Boston-Cambridge, Massachusetts; Nashua, New Hampshire||$52,650|
|Manchester, New Hampshire||$51,290|
The educational pathway to become a dental assistant is similar to other allied health professions.
Compare the following salaries, based on BLS figures, for allied health positions that require a certificate/diploma for entry-level roles.
|Career||Median Annual Salary|
What Factors Can Affect Your Salary?
The salary you earn as a dental assistant can vary based on your location, education, experience, professional certifications, and other factors. The BLS reports that the top 10% of dental assistants earn annual median salaries of $58,390. Consider how these factors can affect your earning potential in this role:
Job Outlook for Dental Assistants
Demand for dental assistants is expected to grow across the country and most notably where there is an increasing number of older Americans, the BLS says.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of baby boomers aged 65 and over will increase by 10,000 every day through 2030, when all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old. Individuals at this age and beyond are more likely to need complicated dental procedures, increasing the need for qualified dental assistants and other dental providers.
Demand for dental assistants is expect to grow across the country and notably where there is an increasing number of older Americans, the BLS says.
Across all ages, the demand for preventive dental care is also likely to grow as more data links a person’s oral health to their overall health, the BLS says. Poor oral health, especially gum disease, has been linked to conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Demand for Dental Assistants
With job growth projected at 11% through 2030, there will be 36,900 more dental assisting jobs to fill. While it’s difficult to predict exactly where these new positions will be, consider the current geographic and industry distribution of dental assistants to see where they’re in demand now.
The states with the highest demand for dental assistants rank among the most populous.
States with the lowest demand are among those with the lowest populations.
|District of Columbia||480|
As expected, dental offices employ the highest number of dental assistants, though there’s also demand for dental assistants in other healthcare settings.
|Outpatient care centers||5,500|
|Federal executive branches||3,670|
|Employment services agencies||3,610|
How to Boost Your Salary as a Dental Assistant
Earning national certification is one of the best ways to boost your salary from the start of your dental assisting career. According to the DANB, dental assistants who hold the DANB’s CDA certification are likely to earn more than the national median reported by the BLS.
Other ways you may be able to boost your salary include: