DANB's 2012 Salary Survey: CDAs still earn more than non-CDAs

Sept. 19, 2012
The 2012 DANB Salary Survey results are based on a 24% response rate

Every two years, DANB surveys thousands of dental assistants holding Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification from around the country. The survey contains questions about salary levels, types of work benefits received, and the advantages of DANB certification. The results of the 2012 Salary Survey are in, and the median hourly wage for full-time CDAs continues to be higher than that earned by non-CDAs.

DANB's 2012 Salary Survey shows that full-time CDA certificants earn a median salary of $18.60 an hour, compared to full-time non-CDAs, who earn a median salary of $17.06 per hour. The 2012 Survey also shows that the average CDA salary has climbed slightly since DANB’s 2010 Salary Survey, which is particularly notable during a time of economic difficulty and high unemployment rates.

Being a full-time employee has its advantages, the survey reveals. CDA certificants working full-time earn slightly more per hour than part-timers ($18.60 vs. $18.00) and significantly more than temporary/fill-in CDAs, who earn a median salary of $16.00 an hour.

The highest median hourly salaries were reported in the District of Columbia ($24.00), California ($23.50), and Hawaii, New Hampshire and Vermont ($22.00). CDAs on the West Coast earn the highest median hourly salaries ($21.81), and the lowest median hourly salaries were reported in the Southeast ($17.75).

Trends worth noting

The 2012 survey revealed that employer reimbursement for Continuing Dental Education (CDE) continues to decline. In 2001, 59% of CDAs stated their employers reimbursed them for CDE, compared to 47% in 2012. However, the types of benefits certificants receive, such as healthcare and paid vacation, remain fairly steady since our first survey.

The median hourly salary for CDAs remains stable throughout the country, although the rate of pay dipped in certain regions. The median hourly salary in the Southeast went from $18.00 in 2010 to $16.89 in 2012, and from $18.10 to $17.53 in the South Central region.

The percentages of CDAs performing duties beyond basic chairside assisting jumped across the board. More and more of you are handling office management (32 percent), laboratory (70 percent), infection control (83 percent), expanded functions (65 percent), in-office training (50 percent) and other duties.

Certification benefits employers, too

The CDA certificants who responded to our survey have been working in the dental assisting field for an average of 15 years and have been in their current position for an average of eight years. Many attribute job longevity and higher career satisfaction to DANB certification. “Being certified with DANB has helped me advance in my career choice,” said one respondent. “For this I am very grateful.”

Others see the survey as a valuable resource for employers seeking new employees. “I recently changed jobs,” mentioned one respondent, “and several of the dentists I interviewed with utilized DANB’s salary survey for establishing salary.” Echoed another CDA: “I think this survey is a wonderful tool for prospective employees as well as for potential employers.”

CDAs also credit DANB certification for job promotions, a sense of pride, employer recognition and many other benefits.

To see the average salaries for dental assistants in each state and other results, see DANB's 2012 Salary Survey.

The 2012 DANB Salary Survey results are based on a 24% response rate to its survey of a national sample of CDA certificants. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number. The median is defined as the point at which 50% of the data fall above and 50% fall below.

The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) is recognized by the ADA as the national certification board for dental assistants. For more information, please go to www.danb.org, or contact Cynthia C. Durley, M.Ed., MBA, Executive Director of DANB, at 1-800-367-3262 with any questions.