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Dental Assistant Salary:
How Much Can They Make?

Estimating earning potential in the dental assisting career pathway

If you’re looking for a new career path in a rewarding field, dental assisting can be a great place to start.

You can potentially earn a good salary in the job itself or use it as a springboard to advance to further career opportunities.

How much dental assistants are paid can depend on many factors, including required education, professional experience, specific roles and responsibilities, and state of employment.

How Much Dental Assistants Make on Average
Salary

Average salary by state

According to 2020 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental assistants earn an average annual salary of $42,310 per year ($20.34 per hour) across all U.S. states.*

Job / CareerPer hourPer year
Alabama$16.11$33,510
Alaska$24.63$51,230
Arizona$19.70$40,980
Arkansas$17.54$36,480
California$21.61$44,940
Colorado$21.12$43,930
Connecticut$21.79$45,330
Delaware$19.18$39,890
District of Columbia$20.63$42,910
Florida$19.79$41,170
Georgia$19.71$40,990
Hawaii$17.56$36,530
Idaho$16.98$35,310
Illinois$19.61$40,780
Indiana$20.48$42,600
Iowa$21.48$44,680
Kansas$19.16$39,840
Kentucky$18.15$37,740
Louisiana$16.64$34,600
Maine$21.49$44,690
Maryland$21.77$45,280
Massachusetts$24.88$51,750
Michigan$19.46$40,470
Minnesota$25.80$53,670
Mississippi$15.35$31,930
Missouri$18.56$38,610
Montana$17.95$37,330
Nebraska$20.60$42,840
Nevada$19.18$39,900
New Hampshire$24.43$50,820
New Jersey$21.81$45,370
New Mexico$17.98$37,410
New York$20.74$43,150
North Carolina$21.37$44,440
North Dakota$22.79$47,390
Ohio$20.71$43,090
Oklahoma$18.46$38,400
Oregon$23.23$48,320
Pennsylvania$19.91$41,410
Rhode Island$22.38$46,560
South Carolina$19.72$41,010
South Dakota$19.38$40,310
Tennessee$18.83$39,170
Texas$19.08$39,680
Utah$16.76$34,850
Vermont$22.02$45,810
Virginia$21.48$44,690
Washington$22.45$46,690
West Virginia$15.50$32,240
Wisconsin$19.59$40,740
Wyoming$18.55$38,590
Career Comparison

Comparing dental assisting to related healthcare professions

Dental assisting represents one of many types of healthcare jobs where you can earn a diploma or degree in 2 years or less, strongly qualify for your first entry-level position, and begin a career that’s full of possibilities.

Average pay for related positions, May 2020

Job / CareerPer hourPer year
Licensed Practical Nurse (BLS)$24.08$50,090
Medical Assistant (BLS)$17.75$36,930
Medical Equipment Preparer (BLS)$19.75$41,070
Radiologic Technologist (BLS)$31.17$64,840
Surgical Technologist (BLS)$24.77$51,510
All salary data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Every career has its own requirements for education, licensure/certification, and experience before qualifying to practice.1

Looking ahead: career possibilities

If you’re considering dental assisting as a first step in a long-term career path, you may be considering positions in advanced dentistry in the future.

Job / CareerPer hourPer year
Dental Hygienist (BLS)$37.53$78,050
Dentist (BLS)$86.94$180,830
Orthodontist (BLS)$114.42$237,990
All salary data courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keep in mind becoming a dentist or orthodontist will require advanced education, typically a doctorate, in order to qualify to practice. If you have yet to work in the dental field, you have a long way to go before reaching this level of pay.

Dental assistants can begin advancing their career to dental hygienist by enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program. Those who hold an associate degree in dental assisting can potentially transfer credit into a bachelor’s degree program.

Classes Start August 9th

Waived Enrollment Fee

Frequently Asked Questions

With Herzing University you are never alone in paying for dental assisting school. There are  many potential options for financial aid, including loans, scholarships, VA/military benefits, and more. Please contact us for eligibility.

You can use the Herzing Tuition Wizard to determine the cost of tuition for our diploma or associate degree in dental assisting, available through our Minneapolis campus.

Dental assisting can be hard if it’s not the right type of job for your personality—or if you’re unprepared to succeed in the position.

Earning a formal education helps you build the knowledge and skills to be comfortable in the role right from the start.

Dental assistants help dentists deliver dental care to patients by taking on a mix of patient care and administrative duties. Their scope of practice depends on state regulations, but common responsibilities of a dental assistant include:

  • Prepare patients for treatments and procedures
  • Take x-rays
  • Recordkeeping
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Assist patients in billing and payment
  • Sterilizing instruments, and assisting dentists during procedures
  • Taking medical history, blood pressure, and pulse before a procedure
  • Talk to patients about proper oral hygiene

What dental assistants do on a daily basis depends on the specific roles and responsibilities included in the job description, which can vary by employer.

Dental assisting can be a great career choice for the right type of person!

If you have good interpersonal, listening, and organizational skills, you have the potential to be an excellent dental assistant. Dental assistants can take on many types of tasks, and you must be prepared to be a versatile team player, eager to do whatever is needed to help things run smoothly.

Dental assistants typically enjoy regular office hours (evenings and/or weekends, in some cases), a variety of job duties, and a strong foundation of experience to advance their career in the future.

Enrolling in a diploma or degree program to become a dental assistant can really be worth it!

It can take less than 2 years to become a dental assistant well-prepared to succeed right from the start.

How much less depends on what educational pathway you choose. With Herzing University in Minneapolis you have two options:

  • Diploma in Dental Assisting: 16 months (average)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Dental Assisting: 20 months (average)

Once you’ve graduated, all that’s left is getting certified to position yourself best to find your first job in dental assisting.

Start your new career now

Dental assisting represents a great way to get a fast start in the dental field, earn a good job, and build a strong foundation for your career in dentistry.

Your best bet to impress employers in the hiring process is to earn formal training in dental assisting and get certified.

We exist to help you get there.

If you live near Minneapolis, contact us to set up a time to discuss your bright future.

Learn more about our dental assisting program available at our Minneapolis campus

CTA Bg

1. To view educational and licensure requirements in the state of Minnesota, please visit the Minnesota Board of Dentistry website.


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

Classes Start August 9th

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