As you consider a career as a dental assistant, one of the factors that will inevitably sway your decision is the matter of Dental Assistant Salary. The amount of salary for a dental assistant will vary depending on several factors, including geography, qualifications, and experience. Pay may be offered in the form of annual salary or hourly wages, depending on whether the assistant in question is working part time or full time.
An Overview of Salaries for Dental Assistants
The biggest question you’re probably wondering is, “how much does a dental assistant make?”. According to numbers provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average dental assistant can look forward to compensation in the following ranges:
- The national average salary for dental assistants is approximately $33,500 per year.
- The top range of dental assistant salary exceeds $47,000 per year.
- The lowest range of compensation for dental assistants hits a bottom of approximately $22,500 per year, usually in rural geographical areas with a lower cost of living.
- If a dental assistant works part time and is compensated hourly, the pay usually ranges from $11 for a newly trained assistant to more than $20 per hour for an experienced assistant.
Factors Impacting Dental Assistant Salary
If you are working or planning to work as a dental assistant, there are a number of factors within your control that can be leveraged to boost your earnings.
- Consider where you live, or where you would be willing to live. You can check the city by city statistics to see where dental assistants are in highest demand and therefore paid the most. You should also cross-reference the salary with the cost of living, and consider how those two statistics interact. You may make more money in a city, but the higher cost of living could cut into that increase and make it effectively a comparable salary to lower earnings in a rural area where cost of living is comparatively lower. You might have an option of living in a lower-cost area and commuting to a higher-pay area to decrease that differential.
- Consider adding education to your credentials. An assistant with just a certification will not make as much as an assistant with a full Associate’s degree. The additional training can make a significant difference in your earning power. Even if you are a practicing certified assistant, you can consider continuing your education to increase your earnings.
- Some factors for increasing pay will depend on time and patience. In short, the more experience you have as a dental assistant, the more you can ask in compensation. Your value goes up as you continue to practice your profession.
- If all else fails, you might consider simply asking for a raise. Particularly if you have established yourself in the profession and gained experience since your pay was set, you should have a good case for an increase in your compensation.
Online Degrees and their Impact on Dental Assistant Salary
Many prospective and practicing dental assistants are turning to online programs to further their education. Online education has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, and there are many accredited programs available from which you can choose.
The advantages of online education include the fact that you need not worry about geographic location or scheduling conflicts as barriers to your educational opportunities. The online programs enable you to enroll in an accredited school, even if you are practicing in a rural or isolated area. Your work schedule won’t be a problem because you don’t have to physically attend classes at set times, so you will be able to spend time on school work after work hours, rather than needing to request time off for your education.
After completing a certification program or degree program, you will be set to take the required exams to solidify your credentials and demand a higher Dental Assistant Salary. When you select an online school, just make sure that the school is accredited and reputable.
Moving Up The Ranks
Your personal mobility in the dental field can make a difference in your capabilities and earning potential.
- Take opportunities to learn more in the course of practicing your profession.
- Ask questions and continue learning. Volunteer for tasks outside the scope of your original training.
- Get to know every aspect of the dental business, and make yourself an indispensible component of your own working environment.
A dental assistant who shows intelligence and curiosity and willingness to expand knowledge and experience will become a valued asset in any work environment. Over time, this will translate to a higher earning capacity, either in the existing work environment or as you move on to another dental practice. Always ask for references that attest to the various facets of your work, and build your own personal reputation as an assistant who is worth the highest Dental Assistant Salary.