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Results of the 2009 DAD salary survey

Sept. 22, 2009
DAD Editor Kevin Henry gives readers the results of this year's salary survey and compares them to a recent DANB certficant salary survey.

Whenever I talk to dental assistants in my travels around the country, the subject of salaries is sure to come up. Every dollar is important, especially in these economic times. However, it seems that tight economic times also often equates into fewer raises and perks for dental assistants.

Click here to view chart larger.What did we learn this year? Our five-question salary survey was answered by 432 dental assistants, representing all regions of the country. The majority of respondents’ salaries fell between the $15 to $20 range (52%), with $18 per hour being the most popular answer (10.4%). The good news is that those numbers are very similar to what we found in the June 2008 and November 2008 surveys, meaning dental assistants aren’t losing ground in terms of salaries. Of course, there wasn’t much ground gained in the battle for the Benjamins either.
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Slightly more than half of the respondents said they had received a raise in the past year, with a nearly 50-50 split on the question of “Do you think you receive raises from your employer(s) at fair intervals?”

Click here to view chart larger.Always one of the more interesting portions of the survey is where dental assistants comment on their salary and/or situation. Below are some of your responses.Dental assistant from Florida: “The more productive an assistant is to the practice, the more her income should be.”Dental assistant from New Hampshire: “This year I believe the economy has affected raises. Previously it was a little raise every year.”Dental assistant from Washington state: “Dental assistants deserve a wage or salary that more accurately reflects our responsibilities in the workplace. Our profession as a whole is grossly underpaid for the technical and interpersonal skills required of us. I have been a CDA for 10 years and have had to demand a decent income every step of the way.”Dental assistant from Delaware: “Salaries are low compared to the amount of work we do and what we have to know.”Dental assistant from Oklahoma: “When looking for new employment I am finding that a very large percent of employers want to hire someone with little or no experience, and this is because they want to pay no more than $12 an hour. Years ago, experience seemed to be what they preferred, but not now. My 20+ years of experience means nothing.”Dental assistant from Washington state: “The doctors I work for are wonderful people but they have little business sense. I have told them this. They do well with take-home pay from profits but are terrible with reinvesting in their business (i.e., no budgets), and don't consistently evaluate staff and give raises. I made more in 2004 at my old office — $15.50 in Denver compared with $15 in Portland/Vancouver after almost five years.”Dental assistant from Massachusetts: “I believe dental assistants are very important to the dental profession and our income should reflect our importance. I work as an orthodontic assistant and know my doctor could not work without an assistant’s help.”Dental assistant from Minnesota: “The more continuing education you have, the more your salary should be compensated.”One thing I thought would be of interest to our readers this year is to have not only the results of the Dental Assisting Digest salary survey, but also to have the results from the DANB certificant salary survey. DANB has done an excellent job with their survey, breaking it down state-by-state and finding that full-time DANB certified assistants make $2.38 more per hour than those who are non-certified. You’ll find two pages filled with salary information from DANB by clicking here.In future issues of DAD, we’ll take a look at ways you can improve your value in the practice as well as how you can emphasize your value to your boss. We’ll even give you updated tips and ways you can ask for a raise, even in tough times. If you have any ideas for articles, drop me a line at [email protected].Thanks to all of you who participated ... and keep up the good fight for the pay you deserve. You’re worth every penny.