Skip to main content

Dental Assistant Salary:
How Much Can They Make?


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
District of Columbia$20.63$42,910
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
Rhode Island$22.38$46,560
South Carolina$19.72$41,010
South Dakota$19.38$40,310
West Virginia$15.50$32,240
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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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 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.

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 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!

Request Information
Ready to get started?

Contact us to request more information

Opt-In to Receive SMS Messages

By selecting this button you agree to receive updates and alerts from Herzing University. Text HELP to 42459 for help, Text STOP to 42459 to end. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. By opting in, I authorize Herzing University to deliver SMS messages and I understand that I am not required to opt in as a condition of enrollment. By leaving this box unchecked you will not be opted in for SMS messages. Click to read Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.