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Is it time for a raise in your dental assisting position?

April 25, 2016
No one enjoys asking for a raise. But do you deserve more than you earn in your dental assisting position? Then it's time to make note of your outstanding qualities, and discussing an increase with the dentist or office manager.

Many of us wonder if we’re actually getting paid less than our peers? We wonder what the dental assistant across the street makes. Are you making the same wage year after year? Many assistants think it’s up to their employer to increase their wages. Nobody wants to ask for a raise, right?

RELATED ARTICLE: How much money do you make in your position in the dental practice?

Many dental assistants who don't work on a bonus system find themselves earning the same salary year after year. I believe that every dental office should conduct an annual evaluation for each employee. This is the best time to ask about job performance and what is expected of team members in the coming year. If your office doesn't do this, then ask the dentist or office manager for a private meeting so you can discuss what is expected of you and how you are doing.

Once you have a meeting scheduled, be prepared to ask:

1. "How do you feel about my previous year's work ethic?" This is a great start to add some great points about yourself here, such as, “I was out only two sick days last year,” or, “Our production increased significantly last quarter” or, “I am staying under the dental supply budget each month when I order,” and so on.

2. "What can I do to increase my salary?" Have some ideas ready. For example, you can clean the office at the end of the week, stock supplies, or file records. You might even suggest helping with posting dental news or comments on the office’s Facebook page.

3. "Can the office implement a bonus program?" If a salary increase isn't in the picture, then come up with other ideas, such as a bonus system. When the monthly production goal is exceeded, then possibly a reward system can be given. Let the dentist or office manager know this would encourage you and others to keep the schedule full when there are late cancellations, or to move hygiene patients over to the restorative side to fill empty appointments.

RELATED ARTICLE:What YOU have to say about your salaries in dental assisting, and more results from recent survey

In summary, know your worth. Call area dental assisting schools and ask what entry level dental assistants are making. A dental assistant salary calculator that we use in Austin, Texas, is as simple as taking the number of years experience someone has and multiplying that by 75 cents per year, then add that figure to the local hourly starting wage. For example, if the starting wage in Austin is $11 per hour and you have eight years of experience, then your wage should be around $17 per hr. Keep in mind that your area may calculate only a 50 cents per year raise.

Remember, you are your biggest advocate, so sell yourself. Let others know what type of employee you are.

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Kimberly Morgan, RDH, has over 24 years experience in the dental field. She’s the founder of, which helps match dental staff with jobs. She co-owns and teaches at the Dental Essentials School of Dental Assisting in Austin, Texas. She is a clinical trainer for Acteon Dental Equipment, and she practices dental hygiene at a private practice in Austin. Kimberly is a member of the American Dental Hygiene Association and is a past vice president for the Austin Dental Hygiene Chapter, and past president for the Corpus Christi Dental Hygiene Chapter. She can be reached at [email protected].