DANB's CDAs Report Higher Earnings than Non-Certified Assistants

Dec. 14, 2010
DANB’s 2010 Salary Survey results are in, and the survey shows that DANB Certified Dental Assistants (CDAs) continue to earn more and stay in the profession longer than non-certified assistants.

DANB’s 2010 Salary Survey results are in, and the survey shows that DANB Certified Dental Assistants (CDAs) continue to earn more and stay in the profession longer than non-certified assistants. DANB’s results are based on a 17 percent response rate to its survey of a national sample of CDAs. (DANB targeted a 10 percent response rate to be able to generalize results to the full CDA population.)

According to the survey, DANB CDAs who work full-time (73 percent) report a median salary of $18.73, which is up $0.73 from 2008. The median salary for full- and part-time DANB CDAs is $18.50 – $2.04 higher than non-certified assistants, who earn $16.46 per hour, according to adjusted figures from a May 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey.

“I believe DANB Certification has everything to do with my wage,” according to one respondent, who notes she went from making $15 to $19 within the last year. “I believe with the confidence in my knowledge and abilities that I gained from being DANB Certified, I always worked a little harder, pushed a little further, and feel very successful.”

Many DANB Certificants share the results of the salary survey with their employers when asking for a raise. “Thanks to your survey I was able to show it to my dentist and get the recognition I deserved,” one DANB CDA said. “Thank you for doing this!”

Self-gratification (87 percent) and pride (78 percent) are once again top reasons DANB Certificants maintain their certifications. “I am so proud to have earned my CDA; it has made a world of difference in my career,” one Certificant says. “I truly believe every assistant should be DANB Certified.”

Employer recognition is another benefit of DANB Certification, according to 55 percent of respondents. As one CDA says, “Having your boss or a coworker say a genuine ‘thank you for helping me today’ or ‘good job’ means more to me than anything.”

Nearly half (48 percent) of survey respondents believe that DANB Certification elevates the profession. DANB CDAs tend to stay in the profession longer and have more loyalty toward their employers. According to the 2010 survey results, DANB CDAs have been in their current positions for an average of 8.7 years and in the profession an average of 15.7 years. As one respondent notes, “After working several years at the same office you become like family; it’s no longer about the money or benefits but a genuine feeling of caring for each other and seeing our families grow up together.”

Another CDA echoes the same sentiment. “I work with a very nice dentist and even if I was offered more elsewhere, I am committed to this doctor who I have worked with for nine years.”

Beyond higher wages, DANB CDAs reported benefits such as 401(k)/pension plan (61 percent) free dental care (56 percent), health insurance (54 percent), reimbursement for CDE (52 percent), and reimbursement for certification or state registration renewal (30 percent).

Patient respect for credentials (45 percent) and recognition in the dental community (41 percent) are also high on the list of DANB Certification benefits. “Certification is good for both the assistant and the patients as it requires extensive knowledge to pass the exams and that knowledge allows us to provide the best care for the patients,” one DANB CDA says.

Survey respondents noted that DANB Certification gave them career mobility. “My life as a CDA is very fulfilling,” one respondent said. “Being a military spouse, my CDA credentials made it a lot easier to seek employment in the many states we were transferred to. There were some times I had employment before we arrived in the new state.”

DANB CDAs cited potential to be qualified to perform additional duties as a benefit of DANB Certification, noting that they often take on responsibilities such as infection control; laboratory functions; expanded duties, as allowed in their respective states; and providing in-office training to other staff.

In addition to the professional benefits of certification, many DANB Certificants strongly believe in the important role that DANB Certification plays in patient safety and public protection. “I would like to see more state dental boards require DANB Certification to practice as a dental assistant in the state in which they live,” one CDA notes.

“All states should require certification in order to protect the public,” another Certificant added.

Although each state has different requirements for dental assistants, earning and maintaining DANB Certification demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning, and is an objective measure of dental assisting clinical knowledge. Even if it is not required by the state, DANB Certification is a professional status that is recognized and respected in the industry. There are DANB Certified Assistants in every state, ranging from hundreds to thousands, totaling over 33,000 DANB Certificants nationwide. As Marilyn Copeland, CDA, puts it, “Thank you for keeping the bar high and providing a way to measure our knowledge in Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, and General Chairside. I’m a proud DANB CDA.”

Download more facts from DANB’s 2010 Salary Survey at www.danb.org.