Salary and Benefits: What to Expect as a Dental Assistant


Dental assistants can look forward to a positive job outlook for this year and the next seven years. In fact, if the report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics is to be believed, employment for dental assistants is expected to grow at 36 percent – much faster compared with other jobs. The future really looks promising for those who want to be in this profession. However, before you get into this job, do you really know what to expect as a dental assistant? More importantly, does the job pay enough to support you and your family?

As a dental assistant, your job is basically divided into two categories: clerical and clinical. Clerical tasks include the following:

  • Filing and organizing client’s information
  • Setting and scheduling appointments
  • Manage the payment system
  • Answering the phone and managing inquiries
  • Follow up on clients

Being a dental assistant, your primary duty is to assist a dentist so your duties might include a lot of clerical or administrative tasks so as to allow the dentist to focus on the actual procedures and not the day-to-day management of the clinic. You might also be tasked to do the following clinical jobs:

  • Sterilize equipment
  • Prep clients
  • Getting an impression of the teeth
  • Perform x-rays on a client’s teeth

You will be limited to simple, preparatory dental procedures as a dental assistant. Of course, you will be assisting the dentist when he performs more complex procedures, sort of like a nurse on standby just in case he needs something. In fact, you can think of a dental assistant as a secretary and a nurse, all rolled into one. Now these tasks might be easy enough for you to handle, but can you handle the average income a dental assistant gets?


Dental assistants are paid fairly well and with more and more people taking good care of their teeth as well as more and more people having a proactive approach in dental hygiene, you are guaranteed employment for the next few years. However, the big question is, will this job provide you with the best compensation for your skills and time?

It’s time to talk about the money. At the end of the day, the important question is: How much does a dental assistant earn? How much you’ll earn as a dental assistant will actually depend on where you plan to work. Salary will vary per state as salary is dependent on many factors like cost of living, demand, supply, etc. Even in the same state, you cannot expect to earn as much as dental assistants in big cities or highly urbanized places.

To give you a ball park figure though, the average salary for dental assistants figure at $32,000 annually, with the lowest salary estimated at $20,500 while the highest-paid dental assistants were recorded to receive $44,000 in a year. Is this enough for you? That is one major thing that you have to consider when thinking of taking up this career. Salary is very important in choosing a career since you want to find a career that offers the best earning potential for you. You don’t want to be stuck in a career that will not be enough to support your need or your family’s.

Here is the average income that dental assistants earn per state, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

State Salary
Alabama $27,400
Alaska $41,800
Arizona $34,000
Arkansas $26,000
California $33,900
Colorado $36,000
Connecticut $39,000
Delaware $34,500
Florida $33,600
Georgia $33,000
Hawaii $30,000
Idaho $29,000
Illinois $32,000
Indiana $33,500
Iowa $32,200
Kansas $31,900
Kentucky $30,400
Louisiana $27,000
Maine $33,800
Maryland $34,400
Massachusetts $38,500
Michigan $33,000
Minnesota $40,000
Mississippi $27,000
Missouri $33,000
Montana $30,000
Nebraska $29,000
Nevada $34,300
New Hampshire $40,380
New Jersey $36,100
New Mexico $30,800
New York $33,000
North Carolina $34,000
North Dakota $31,400
Ohio $32,000
Oklahoma $29,000
Oregon $36,000
Pennsylvania $30,000
Rhode Island $34,000
South Carolina $31,000
South Dakota $29,000
Tennessee $29,000
Texas $31,100
Utah $26,000
Vermont $35,000
Virginia $33,000
Washington $36,700
West Virginia $24,000
Wisconsin $32,000
Wyoming $26,700

Again, this is just the average dental assistant salary per state. There are other factors that of course affect how much you’ll be earning as a dental assistant, like if you are fresh out of training of if you have already gained enough experience. Just use this as a guide in helping you set expectations so that you can better manage your finances once you start in your profession. Also, the fact that a state has a high average income for dental assistants mean that it is best to practice there. Consider Alaska for example, it might have the highest average income for dental assistants but it also has a high cost of living plus the area might not be to your and your family’s liking. Just make sure to do your research before you decide where to practice your profession.

Now, do you get anything in terms of benefits? Do dental assistants get to enjoy great benefits? Your benefits as a dental assistant might actually be dependent on your employment status as well as your work setup. Health and travel benefits are things that you would have to discuss with your future employer. Encouragingly enough, 86 percent of certified dental assistants get to enjoy paid vacation benefits as well as health benefits according to the Dental Assisting National Board. If this is so, then chances are that you will enjoy the same.

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