2013 Northwest U.S. dental assisting salary survey

Sept. 23, 2013
2013 dental assisting salaries for northwest U.S. states

2013 Northwest U.S. dental assisting salary survey

(Statistics are for Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Wyoming)

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

  • Most common hourly rates: $18, $19, $20 ($18)
  • % who earn $30 or more an hour: 2% (6%)
  • % who last received a raise more than a year ago: 65% (56%)
  • % who believe raises occur at fair intervals: 40% (41%)
  • % who would recommend dental assisting as a profession: 77% (73%)
  • % who envision continued employment as a dental assistant three years from now: 65% (71%)

Selected comments from Northwest U.S.:


  • Wide disparity in pay: private practice vs, group practice (corporate). More likely to receive benefits with corporate employment, unfortunately.
  • I believe considering the amount of multi-tasking required of an assistant that base pay should start at $15.
  • Income for CDA's has remained static for too long, especially for those working in corporate-owned practices. If we raise the issue of lack of raises vs. increased cost of living, we are told, "Just be glad you have a job." In real buying power, assistants make less every year, as we are considered expendable and easily replaced. Do these employers know how much it costs to constantly train new assistants?
  • They are trying to do even more with even less workers on the floor and less time per patient: exhausting! It just continues on and on, making me reduce my hours each week so I can keep my head screwed on straight!


  • Have worked as an assistant (RDA) for over 40 years. The lack of decent or any retirement benefits is awful, while the doctors build million dollar homes.
  • Worked in California for 40 years. Was making $28 per hour. Now in Montana and make $12.69 for the same job and the patient fees are about the same. Guess who pockets the rest of the wages; oh yeah, no benefits.
  • Dental assisting has been a great career choice for me. There have been times over the years I have felt that dental assistants are not recognized for the true value they provide the practice. I am encouraging the newest assistant in our office to go to dental hygiene school.


  • I feel the rate is getting better. It's important that dental assistants make an income that allows them to be self-supporting.
  • A lot of unmarried dental assistants have more than one job for the first little while. If you hang in there and find a great doctor, you'll eventually start making more money as your experience grows and you become EF. For the most part, you need to just love what you do and the money will come.
  • Dental assistants are underpaid. We are expected to work hard even giving up breaks and lunches but are not paid enough to make it on our own. I am a single mother of three; I work full time, and I will be getting on food stamps, WIC, and reduced lunches. I feel misled by my instructors at the school I attended. I have no retirement and no medical benefits. It’s a shame. I would not recommend assisting to anyone.
  • I have been a CDA for nearly 40 years. I have seen many assistants come and go. Schools are turning out people with very little true technical knowledge of what is expected. If dentists are going to hire graduates from these type of non-accredited schools, then it needs to become the dentist's job to mentor these people so that they have a true understanding of what is taking place, and why. I am seeing too many people who look at dental assisting as just a "job" rather than a profession.
  • I am excited to see Washington state get an EFDA program. I have been an assistant for 30 years and would love to take the course to expand my career in assisting!
  • Dentists are becoming extremely careful about money. Be sure not to price yourself out of a job.

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