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2023 Dental Salary Survey Report: Front office edition

Jan. 12, 2023
Pay and job satisfaction are on the rise, but with 39% of front office team members reportedly planning to seek new employment, dental practices must be at the top of their game to attract and maintain talented staff.

DentalPost’s 2023 Dental Salary Survey Report paints a picture of overall higher salaries and job satisfaction for dental practice managers, billing specialists, and front office associates. Meanwhile, survey data also points to impending high turnover in 2023 as front office team members seek new opportunities to maximize their income and improve their work environments.

For the fourth year in a row, in partnership with Dental Office Manager Digest, DentalPost surveyed nearly 15,000 dental professionals, including dental practice managers, billing specialists, and front desk associates. From compensation to job turnover, this report highlights key insights and takeaways for front office teams.

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Pay increased across all front office positions

Average full-time salaries and hourly rates increased 11% for all combined front office positions, including practice managers, billing specialists and front office associates.

Looking specifically at dental practice managers’ pay, the average total income rose to $66,320, a 5.5% year-over-year (YOY) increase, with private practice respondents reporting higher YOY increases of 8.5% compared with just 1% average YOY pay increases in corporate practices.

Meanwhile, hourly rates for private and corporate practice managers increased 4.5% on average, from $28.32 to $29.56. 

Front office income increased 11%, while average total income for full-time billing specialists increased by 9.5%.

As incomes rose, so did job satisfaction

Coinciding with overall higher salaries and hourly rates, income satisfaction increased to 52% of all front office team members reporting they feel “very satisfied” to “satisfied” with their pay—a 15% YOY increase from just 37% of respondents reporting the same in 2021.

For dental practice managers in particular, income satisfaction was higher, with 58% of responding dental practice managers feeling “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their income. Notably, this is a 30% increase from last year’s survey. Furthermore, practice managers responding they are “very dissatisfied” with their income dropped dramatically from 13.5% down to 2%. Similarly, billing specialists reported increased satisfaction with their income by 14% YOY.

Pay negotiations yielded mixed results

Motivated individuals seeking to improve their compensation packages proactively asked for pay increases. Their efforts were met with mixed results. 

AADOM distinction correlated with higher income

For dental front office professionals wanting a leg-up in salary negotiations, pursuing American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) distinction may help. Of the 13% practice manager respondents who held AADOM distinction (fellowship, mastership, or diplomate), the average full-time income was notably higher at $74,510, compared with a $65,640 average full-time income for practice managers who do not have AADOM distinction.

2023 forecast: A season of change predicted

Despite rising incomes, turnover remained a theme for all front office positions in 2022. This theme is expected to continue into 2023, as 39% of full-time and 42% of part-time front office associates reported they are actively vetting new job opportunities, including roles outside of the dental industry. In addition, 29% of billing specialists are either actively looking or planning to look for new jobs this year. 

“Positive work culture” was a leading reason for seeking new opportunities

As expected, “better pay” was the top motivator for most respondents seeking change. For front office associates in particular, higher pay was the number one impetus for change, whereas “a more positive work environment” and “gratitude” were among the leading motivators for dental practice managers and billing specialists seeking new opportunities.

Dental practices must be more proactive and competitive to attract and retain talent

Whether you are combatting staffing challenges in your own practice or contemplating a career move to achieve your personal goals, there are proactive actions everyone can take to address challenges:

  1. Offer competitive compensation. According to a Gallup study, the total cost of replacing a team member is equivalent to one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. Factor in the team unrest, distraction, and production loss, and the disruption costs are far greater. Proactively addressing salary and compensation discussions can be key to circumventing unnecessary turnover and mitigating the costs of recruiting and hiring.
  2. Communicate more. Establish a consistent two-way dialogue with direct reports and supervisors alike. Discuss what’s important and what measures are needed to support one another for the mutual success of the team, the practice, and the individual.
  3. Conduct “stay interviews.” When done effectively, a stay interview is an open, honest conversation where team members feel safe communicating their desires and disappointments. Embracing team members’ grievances, expressing gratitude, and providing positive feedback are key to making changes for the better of your practice and office culture. This kind of exchange helps retention and fosters greater trust. 

To sum it up—money is important, but it’s not everything. A well-rounded mix of pay, culture, and kudos goes a long way to maintaining a healthy team culture and attracting new hires.

For a comprehensive look at pay, benefits, bonuses, and work conditions by position, view the full 2023 Dental Salary Survey Report.

About the Author

Tonya Lanthier, RDH

Tonya Lanthier, RDH, is founder and CEO of DentalPost, the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board, connecting and educating more than 850,000 job seekers and 64,000 dental offices in the US and Canada. Lanthier built DentalPost from a passion to improve lives and help dental professionals build teams that excel through metric-based career matching tools, including personality tests and values, skills and work culture assessments. She is a member of the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), a supporter of AACD's Give Back a Smile program, and a volunteer at several charitable organizations, including Georgia Mission of Mercy and Ben Mansell Clinic. Lanthier is also a board member of the Oral Cancer Cause and Dental Entrepreneur Women.