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Mixed emotions about your dental assisting salary? Have no fear! Our salary survey is here!

March 24, 2017
The results are in! Over 1,000 dental assistants took the time to answer the DA Salary Survey and share their thoughts about their careers and their dental practices. Find out what your peers had to say!
Kyle L. Summerford, Editorial Director

The results are in! Over 1,000 dental assistants took the time to answer the DA Salary Survey and share their thoughts about their careers and their dental practices. Find out what your peers had to say!

The results of the national dental assisting salary survey are in
! We received over 1,000 responses from assistants across the US when we sent the survey during Dental Assistant's Recognition Week. The survey covered a wide range of questions related to current occupation, annual salary, employer recognition for a job well done, medical benefits, frequency of raises, and overall happiness with your career choice and why you feel the way you do.

We conducted this survey as a way to help raise awareness around the country and let the voices of the real practice builders in the dental industry to be heard and valued by their employers. We thank you for taking the time to share your voices and opinions. We hope some of the answers inspire you to make any needed changes in your dental practice or your career, and we encourage you to continue to shine as the backbone of your practice. You know the office couldn’t function without you!

And, let’s not forget, there was an Amazon gift card drawing included in the survey. The lucky winner was Erika Godshall of New Jersey. Congratulations!

We started off the survey with a thoughtful question, and the results were a bit surprising.

1.“Name one thing your employer can do or offer that would make you feel appreciated during Dental Assistants Recognition Week.”
The number one answer? Two simple words: “Thank you.” This shows that most dental assistants feel underappreciated and would love to hear a simple, “Thank you for your hard day’s work.” Other gestures of appreciation dental assistants would appreciate include: buy lunch for the staff, a gift card for shopping or dining, a bouquet of flowers, and a small bonus or increase in pay.

2. Does your office do anything special for dental assistants during Dental Assistants Recognition Week?
Only 22% of dental offices celebrate DARW. An overwhelming 78% responded the staff does nothing special to show their appreciation during DARW. The 22% who do get to celebrate said they are recognized with flowers, balloons, a catered lunch, and gift cards. We’re happy to learn that some offices are doing it right!

3. What is your hourly rate of pay as a dental assistant?
73% receive $10 to $15 per hour
11% receive $16 to $20 per hour
9% receive $21-30 per hour
5% receive $31 to $40 per hour
And 2% are paid a whopping $41 or more per hour!

4. What type of dental practice are you currently working with?
73% – General dentist
8% – Group practice
6% – Corporate practice
4% – Periodontist
4% – Orthodontist
2% – Endodontist
2% – Prosthodontist
1% – Oral surgeon

5. Have you ever asked your employer for a pay raise?
46% of you have worked up enough nerve to ask for a raise. Good for you! Unfortunately, that leaves 54% of you who haven’t approached your employer about paying you the wages you deserve for a job well done in the dental practice. We hope that changes in the coming months.

6. When did you last receive a raise?
A good percentage, 58% of you, have received a raise within the last year. But sadly, 42% of you have not received an increase in pay in more than a year.

7. Do you think you receive raises from your employer(s) at fair intervals?
The no answers edged out the positive ones at 54%. Less than half of you, 46%, feel that you receive raises when you should.

8. Do you think you’re paid fairly for the amount of work you perform on a daily basis?
A whopping 61% said NO! Only 39% of the respondents feel as though they are paid fairly for the amount of work they perform in the dental practice.

9. Are you cross trained? (Do you have the ability to work the front office as well as assist the doctor)?
It’s terrific news that 86% of you can perform other duties in the dental practice. This increases your value to the practice. Only 14% of you are not cross trained.

10. Does your employer offer paid medical benefits?
Over half of you, 57%, do NOT receive any medical benefits. Only 15% receive paid medical benefits, and another 28% of you receive medical benefits, but you have to pay for a portion of them out of you own pocket.

11. How would you rate your happiness with your choice of career?
37% of you are extremely satisfied, while 43% are satisfied. 10% came in with “Eh, it’s okay,” 6% said, “It pays the bills,” and 4% of you would rather be doing something else.

12. Based on your answer to the above question, which of the following make you feel the way you do? Choose all that apply. The answer with the most responses was:
1. I enjoy helping others. The others in order were:
2. My dentist is the best boss ever.
3. My employer doesn't recognize my hard work.
4. I am happy with my pay.
5. I work too hard for such little pay.
6. My coworkers help me to get by.
7. I can't stand the dentist I work for.
8. Dealing with patients is extremely frustrating.
9. I can't stand the dentist I work for.
10. My employer is rude and degrading.

13. Are you a member of dental assisting forums on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)?
Wonderful news! 66% of you ARE members of dental assisting forums on social media. That’s great that you’re letting your voices be heard and sharing opinions with your peers. The 34% of you who are NOT on social media need to join and find out what’s happening in the world of dental assisting.

Kyle L. Summerford is CEO and founder of Summerford Solutions, Inc., and editorial director of Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. He provides private business coaching for dentists. Mr. Summerford is a professional speaker focusing on topics such as increasing profits, staff etiquette training, and maximizing dental insurance benefits. Visit his website at, available to dentists and team members for educational purposes, or contact him at [email protected].

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