2013 Appalachia U.S. dental assisting salary survey

Sept. 23, 2013
2013 dental assisting salaries for eastern U.S. states in the Appalachian region.

2013 Appalachia U.S. dental assisting salary survey

(Statistics are for Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia)

(National averages or percentages are in the parentheses to allow for comparison)

  • Most common hourly rates: $17, $18, $20, $25 ($18)
  • % who earn $30 or more an hour: 4% (6%)
  • % who last received a raise more than a year ago: 50% (56%)
  • % who believe raises occur at fair intervals: 50% (41%)
  • % who would recommend dental assisting as a profession: 70% (73%)
  • % who envision continued employment as a dental assistant three years from now: 65% (71%)

Selected comments from Appalachia U.S.:


  • Dental assistants are one of the most underpaid, unappreciated professionals. Shame on our doctors!
  • Dental assisting in this state needs mandatory certification for equal pay scale
  • I feel dental assistants, especially expanded duty assistants, are underpaid compared to our dental hygienist co-workers
  • I'm not sure that many young people want to continue being a dental assistant. I think they realize how difficult a job it is and very underpaid.
  • I believe that dental assisting will continue to grow and hopefully the dentists will see the value of giving dental assistants equality in pay as comparable to dental hygienists.
  • Assistants that are well trained with certifications should definitely make more! We're not sitting there with a suction!


  • Seems the trend with dentists now are bonus systems. But it feels like it's more of the donkey and the carrot. Each time we hit the required amount, he ups the ante, so we rarely have gotten bonuses.
  • I would recommend that the dental assistant never become complacent, and get any additional training that's available.
  • We need more consistent certification and standards for dental assistants. States do not need to allow unqualified assistants to receive certification and join the ranks of truly qualified assistants.
  • The state has lowered the requirements for being a state registered dental assistant so the dentists can train the assistant to keep the salaries low. If the assistant does not have any formal training, I have doubts there would be any incentive to become certified.
  • Average based on school figures is 12.99 per hour for graduates of CDA program


  • Being certified doesn't change the pay scale in the state of Virginia.
  • I think pay is fair given the level of training
  • It is somewhat related to the dental fees of the area, and we usually get a raise each time the fees are raised. These are good wages for rural Virginia.
  • I think when assistants can do more, and want to do more, they get paid more.
  • Young dental assistants need to be aware of the physical problems that you may develop as a result of the profession. I have cataracts, carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms, and neck problems.
  • I think that dental assisting should be uniform across the board and not have differences in what you can do state to state! If you have expanded functions, it should be in all states. Otherwise, what's the point! We have class 1 and 2, I have been working in the field for 13 years with much being CDA. Now, my schooling seems like it didn't matter. I checked into the DA II and there are three places in the state, all four hours or more from me!

West Virginia:

  • I think all assistants should be certified, which gives them the confidence to know what is the correct way to provide treatment, sterilize instruments and rooms, process claims, and show loyalty.

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