How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make a Year

By Jacqueline DeMarco · February 26, 2024 · 6 minute read

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How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make a Year

The median pay for a dental assistant was recently calculated to be $44,820 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If someone is looking for a career in the medical field, but doesn’t want to commit many years and a lot of money to medical school, they may want to look into becoming a dental assistant. This career involves significantly less schooling than one would have to pursue to become a dentist but can offer a stable and rewarding career path.

Keep reading for more insight into what it’s like to work as a dental assistant and what this career’s earning potential can be.

What Are Dental Assistants?

A dental assistant is a healthcare professional who assists dentists in caring for their patients and with general administrative tasks.

Typically, they have completed training as a dental assistant after high school, meaning this can be a potential good job without a college degree.

These are some common responsibilities of dental assistants:

•   Scheduling patient appointments for efficient management

•   Collaborating with patients on medical billing and payment matters

•   Providing instructions to patients on proper oral hygiene practices

•   Preparing both patients and the work area for various treatments and procedures

•   Sterilizing dental instruments to maintain hygiene standards

•   Ensuring the comfort of patients in the dental chair

•   Assisting dentists by handing them instruments during procedures

•   Using suction hoses and other equipment to dry patients’ mouths

•   Processing X-rays and performing lab tasks under the dentist’s guidances

•   Maintaining records of dental treatments for accurate documentation.

As you may have noticed, this job requires a good degree of interaction with coworkers and patients. For this reason, it may be a good fit for those who consider themselves a “people person” and not a great career for an introvert.

Also, it’s important to note that the exact role of a dental assistant can vary based on the state they are working in. This is due to varying state regulations.

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How Much Do Starting Dental Assistants Make a Year?

Understandably, entry-level salaries for dental assistants tend to be less than those for their more experienced counterparts. In terms of how much money a dental assistant makes when they first start their career, here are some numbers: As of 2022, the lowest 10% of workers in this role earned less than $31,450.

However, they can expect to earn more competitive pay over time, as the highest 10% in this role earned more than $59,200.

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What Is the Average Salary for a Dental Assistant?

How much a dental assistant makes an hour can depend a lot on where they choose to work. While the median hourly pay rate for this work is $21.55 per hour as of 2022, the following chart (which goes from highest to lowest) illustrates how greatly this hourly wage can vary on a state level.

What is the Average Dental Assistant Salary by State for 2023


Annual Salary

Monthly Pay

Weekly Pay

Hourly Wage

Washington $49,250 $4,104 $947 $23.68
Delaware $46,132 $3,844 $887 $22.18
Virginia $45,338 $3,778 $871 $21.80
Maryland $44,646 $3,720 $858 $21.46
New York $44,589 $3,715 $857 $21.44
Vermont $43,670 $3,639 $839 $21.00
Nebraska $43,601 $3,633 $838 $20.96
Oklahoma $42,225 $3,518 $812 $20.30
California $42,159 $3,513 $810 $20.27
Massachusetts $41,644 $3,470 $800 $20.02
Alaska $41,274 $3,439 $793 $19.84
Maine $41,066 $3,422 $789 $19.74
Pennsylvania $40,842 $3,403 $785 $19.64
Oregon $40,709 $3,392 $782 $19.57
North Dakota $40,692 $3,391 $782 $19.56
Idaho $40,410 $3,367 $777 $19.43
New Jersey $40,385 $3,365 $776 $19.42
Texas $40,211 $3,350 $773 $19.33
Colorado $39,948 $3,329 $768 $19.21
Hawaii $39,932 $3,327 $767 $19.20
Wisconsin $39,897 $3,324 $767 $19.18
New Hampshire $39,776 $3,314 $764 $19.12
Wyoming $39,041 $3,253 $750 $18.77
Nevada $39,027 $3,252 $750 $18.76
South Dakota $38,458 $3,204 $739 $18.49
Indiana $38,449 $3,204 $739 $18.49
Minnesota $38,422 $3,201 $738 $18.47
New Mexico $38,327 $3,193 $737 $18.43
Rhode Island $37,706 $3,142 $725 $18.13
Arizona $37,654 $3,137 $724 $18.10
Ohio $37,380 $3,115 $718 $17.97
Montana $37,086 $3,090 $713 $17.83
Connecticut $36,857 $3,071 $708 $17.72
Illinois $36,849 $3,070 $708 $17.72
Iowa $36,657 $3,054 $704 $17.62
Alabama $36,623 $3,051 $704 $17.61
Mississippi $36,536 $3,044 $702 $17.57
Tennessee $35,688 $2,974 $686 $17.16
Utah $35,661 $2,971 $685 $17.14
Missouri $35,585 $2,965 $684 $17.11
South Carolina $35,218 $2,934 $677 $16.93
North Carolina $34,492 $2,874 $663 $16.58
Kansas $34,399 $2,866 $661 $16.54
Georgia $34,117 $2,843 $656 $16.40
Louisiana $33,546 $2,795 $645 $16.13
Michigan $33,105 $2,758 $636 $15.92
Kentucky $33,074 $2,756 $636 $15.90
West Virginia $31,543 $2,628 $606 $15.17
Arkansas $31,444 $2,620 $604 $15.12
Florida $30,193 $2,516 $580 $14.52
​​Source: Ziprecruiter

Dental Assistant Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits

The majority of dental assistants work in a dentist’s office (90%), but some do work in the offices of physicians (2%) or for the government (2%). As of 2022, dental assistants held about 371,000 jobs and work under the supervision of dentists.

There are some safety concerns (primarily contracting infectious diseases) that come with this role, which is why dental assistants wear protective clothing and equipment. Being exposed to X-ray machines also comes with concerns, but again, there are safety procedures in place to help protect dental assistants.

Because many dental assistants work full-time, they can qualify for employer-sponsored benefits like healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off. However, if they only work part-time, they might not qualify for benefits.

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Pros and Cons of Dental Assistant Salary

Still on the fence about working as a dental assistant? Here are some of the pros and cons of the role:



•   High earning potential (top 10% earn more than $59,200)

•   Around 55,100 openings for dental assistants projected annually

•   Full-time employees are likely to receive benefits

•   Minimal schooling required

•   Bottom 10% earn less than $31,450

•   Tiring work with some potential health risks

•   Some dental offices only offer part-time work

Recommended: Is $100,000 a Good Salary?

The Takeaway

The median salary for a dental assistant is $44,820, but as they gain work experience, these medical workers can expect to earn more. Because minimal schooling is required to become a dental assistant, many in this field can avoid taking on too much student loan debt.


Can you make 100K a year as a dental assistant?

Most dental assistants don’t earn $100,000 per year. The top 10% of earners in this field can earn around $59,200, but the median annual salary is just $44,820.

Do people like being a dental assistant?

Some people find working as a dental assistant to be an engaging and fulfilling career. Because most of their days are spent on patient care, they must enjoy spending time with people. This won’t be an enjoyable role for someone who is an introvert or who is antisocial.

Is it hard to get hired as a dental assistant?

There are more than 55,000 jobs for dental assistants available each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Depending on your location and other factors, it may not be hard to get hired as a dental assistant.

Photo credit: iStock/mladenbalinovac

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