Dental Assistant Salary: How Much They Make Hourly & Annually

Dental assistants enjoy great job security, have good work schedules, get to help people, and earn a decent salary. 

In the United States, the average dental assistant salary is $44,820 per year or $21.55 per hour. Average wages range greatly based on location, experience, and the number of specialty certifications the dental assistant has.

This guide goes over average dental assistant salaries by state, how to earn a higher salary, and what certifications can help you earn more money. 

Dental Assistant Salary Overview

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assistants in the United States in 2022 earned between $31,450 and $59,200, with a median salary of $44,820 per year, on average. 

This is well above the average pay for other healthcare support staff, who earn a median of $38,810 per year. 

Of course, there are several factors that can impact how much a dental assistant earns. These include: 

  • Years of experience. Employers are willing to pay more for dental assistants who have more experience. Experienced employees are usually more efficient, do not need as much guidance, make fewer mistakes, and are able to work more independently. Most employers offer annual raises to their employees, incentivizing them to stay at the same company. 
  • Type of facility. While most dental assistants work in private dentist’s offices, that is not where they are paid the highest. The BLS shows that dental assistants working for the government earn the highest salary and those working in physician offices earn the least. 
  • Location. Like other jobs, the city and state you work in have a big impact on the salary you earn. Dental assistants in States like California and New York will earn more than those working in States like Oklahoma or Utah. However, the cost of living should also be taken into consideration if you’re trying to figure out where to work.
  • Certifications. Some facilities will be willing to pay more for dental assistants with extra certifications. Earning certifications in infection control, preventative care, and radiology makes someone a more competitive job applicant and a more valuable employee. 

In addition to a good salary, dental assistants have a great job outlook. The BLS predicts that job opportunities for dental assistants will continue to increase at a rate of 7% through 2032. This is higher than the average growth rate of other jobs in the United States. 

Dental Assistant Salary by State

State Houly Median Wage Annual Median Salary
Alabama $18.14 $37,720
Alaska $25.21 $52,430
Arizona $21.45 $44,610
Arkansas $17.58 $36,570
California $23.55 $48,990
Colorado $22.28 $46,350
Connecticut $23.20 $48,260
Delaware $25.24 $52,500
District of Columbia $25.39 $52,820
Florida $20.51 $42,650
Georgia $19.79 $41,160
Guam $18.51 $38,490
Hawaii $19.03 $39,590
Idaho $18.68 $38,840
Illinois $19.85 $41,290
Indiana $21.11 $43,920
Iowa $21.95 $45,650
Kansas $18.75 $39,000
Kentucky $19.44 $40,430
Louisiana $17.40 $36,180
Maine $22.38 $46,560
Maryland $21.66 $45,060
Massachusetts $25.10 $52,200
Michigan $20.21 $42,040
Minnesota $28.31 $58,890
Mississippi $17.77 $36,960
Missouri $20.32 $42,260
Montana $19.55 $40,670
Nebraska $20.35 $42,330
Nevada $19.83 $41,240
New Hampshire $24.14 $50,220
New Jersey $22.31 $46,410
New Mexico $19.04 $39,610
New York $23.02 $47,880
North Carolina $21.95 $45,650
North Dakota $24.70 $51,370
Ohio $22.53 $46,860
Oklahoma $19.60 $40,770
Oregon $25.00 $51,990
Pennsylvania $21.51 $44,740
Puerto Rico $10.05 $20,910
Rhode Island $21.32 $44,340
South Carolina $20.71 $43,070
South Dakota $21.05 $43,790
Tennessee $19.71 $40,990
Texas $18.83 $39,170
Utah $17.83 $37,080
Vermont $24.74 $51,460
Virgin Islands $18.77 $39,040
Virginia $21.63 $44,980
Washington $24.24 $50,430
West Virginia $18.04 $37,510
Wisconsin $21.22 $44,140
Wyoming $20.06 $41,720

Dental Assistant Salary by City

Metro Area State Hourly Median Salary Annual Median Salary
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA GA $21.69 $45,120
Austin-Round Rock, TX TX $21.75 $45,250
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD MD $22.62 $47,050
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH MA $26.60 $55,330
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC NC $22.24 $46,250
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI IL $18.82 $39,150
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN OH $22.73 $47,270
Cleveland-Elyria, OH OH $21.69 $45,120
Columbus, OH OH $22.23 $46,240
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX TX $18.19 $37,830
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO CO $23.19 $48,240
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI MI $19.27 $40,070
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX TX $18.67 $38,830
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN IN $22.96 $47,750
Jacksonville, FL FL $22.09 $45,940
Kansas City, MO-KS MO $21.57 $44,860
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV NV $20.25 $42,120
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA CA $21.37 $44,450
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL FL $18.31 $38,080
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI WI $22.32 $46,430
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MN $29.74 $61,850
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN TN $18.08 $37,600
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA NY $22.33 $46,450
Oklahoma City, OK OK $20.58 $42,800
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL FL $18.48 $38,430
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD PA $22.43 $46,650
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ AZ $22.28 $46,350
Pittsburgh, PA PA $20.88 $43,430
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA OR $25.91 $53,890
Provo-Orem, UT UT $17.45 $36,300
Raleigh, NC NC $22.16 $46,090
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA CA $22.46 $46,710
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA CA $23.68 $49,250
Salt Lake City, UT UT $18.96 $39,450
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX TX $17.85 $37,130
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA CA $22.67 $47,140
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA CA $30.23 $62,880
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA CA $28.99 $60,290
San Juan-Carolina-Caguas, PR PR $8.97 $18,670
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA WA $24.64 $51,250
St. Louis, MO-IL MO $22.09 $45,950
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL FL $21.64 $45,020
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC VA $20.00 $41,600
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV DC $22.99 $47,810

Do Dental Assistants Make Good Money?

Compared to jobs that require similar education and skills, dental assistants make good money. In fact, dental assistants earn more than most comparable healthcare jobs including medical assistants ($38,270), pharmacy technicians ($37,790), and phlebotomists ($37,380).

In addition to a decent salary, full-time dental assistants typically get other valuable benefits from their employers including paid time off, health insurance, dental insurance, and sick leave. 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Better Dental Assistant Salary

If you want to earn more money as a dental assistant, you have to make yourself more valuable. There are several ways you can do this, and some of them can be done quickly. 

  • Get more certifications. If you live in a state that requires certifications for dental assistants, you will already have a dental assisting certification. Additional certifications like orthodontic assisting, preventative care, restorative functions, or advanced infection control can all help you increase your value and give you the confidence to ask for a higher salary. 
  • Stay on top of the industry & new technologies. Dental assistants spend a lot of time working side by side with the dentist. If you can help make the dentists’ job easier by staying up to date on your skills, understanding new technology, and suggesting improvements in tools or equipment, you will be more likely to earn raises, bonuses, and promotions. 
  • Ask your manager about opportunities for advancement. Asking to take on more responsibility around the office is a great way to earn a promotion or a raise. If you work in a large office, you might be able to advance to training other employees, becoming an office manager, or working as a shift leader. 
  • Relocate. If you feel like you earn too little as a dental assistant, you may be able to relocate and earn more. You might move to a city or state with a higher average dental assistant salary, but make sure you consider the cost of living in your new town. Another option is to lengthen your commute to work in a more rural area or in a government or military office where dental assistants tend to earn more money. 
  • Learn another language. Being bilingual is an extremely helpful skill to have, and many employers are willing to reward employees who can speak more than one language. Rather than just knowing the conversational language, make sure you study different healthcare terms and names of dental procedures. 
  • Work undesirable hours. Often, employees are paid night-time and weekend differentials for working undesirable hours. If you are willing to work evenings, nights, or weekends in an emergency dental care office, you might be able to earn a higher salary. 
  • Work for a temp agency. Temp agencies help dental offices find staff to fill in when their employees call in sick or quit. Working for a temp agency can be difficult due to the inconsistency of working hours and location, but they also pay a higher hourly wage. 

Your new Medical Assistant career starts here

Get a healthcare job or your tuition is on us.
By clicking “Apply Now” you agree to receive text, email, and phone marketing messages. Reply “STOP” to cancel.

Spots are limited. We accept qualified applicants on a first come, first served basis.

  • 4 month online medical assistant program

  • Receive your medical assistant certification

  • Tuition comes with 100% money back guarantee

  • Morning or evening classes

  • 100% online followed by in-person externship

  • Job coaching services

Your new Pharmacy Technician career starts here

Get a healthcare job or your tuition is on us.
By clicking “Apply Now” you agree to receive text, email, and phone marketing messages. Reply “STOP” to cancel.

Spots are limited. We accept qualified applicants on a first come, first served basis.

  • 4-month online pharmacy technician program

  • Earn your pharmacy technician certification

  • Tuition comes with 100% money back guarantee

  • Evening classes available

  • 100% online followed by in-person externship

  • Job coaching services

Become a Certified Phlebotomist Tech

Get your NHA Certification in just 4 weeks
By clicking “Apply Now” you agree to receive text, email, and phone marketing messages. Reply “STOP” to cancel.
Spots are limited. We accept qualified applicants on a first come, first served basis.
  • 4-week phlebotomy training program
  • NHA certification prep
  • Evening classes available
  • 100% online
  • Affordable, flexible, learning