Becoming a dental assistant means becoming a professional involved in a career that is rapidly expanding all across the United States. If you’re looking for an occupation that practically guarantees employment anywhere in the country, while offering excellent pay and benefits, this may just be the perfect choice for you.
How Much Does A Dental Assistant Make?
Of course, the first question on your mind will undoubtedly be, “Just how much does a dental assistant make?” The answer to this question will naturally vary from region to region, and state to state.
A dental assistant who works in a private office in a rural area of Missouri or Montana will probably make a bit less than someone who works in a major dental center in Chicago or New York City. But,on the whole, the average dental assistant salary is a very comfortable one.
The 5 States With The Best Salaries For A Dental Assistant
As of 2014, the 5 states that offered the best yearly dental assistant salary were New Hampshire, Alaska, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
- In New Hampshire, over 1,200 assistants were employed. These assistants earned an average of $21.06 per hour, with a yearly average of $43,810.
- The state of Alaska employed just under 1,000 dental assistants. These assistants earned an average of $20.83 per hour, with an average yearly wage of $43,330.
- The state of Minnesota employed nearly 5,300 dental assistants. These assistants earned an average hourly wage of $20.62, with a total average yearly wage of $42,900.
- The state of Massachusetts employed nearly 6,800 dental assistants. These assistants earned an average hourly wage of $20.15, with an average yearly salary of $41,910.
- The state of Connecticut employed over 4,000 dental assistants. These assistants earned an average hourly wage of $19.58, with an average yearly salary of $40,730.
How Schooling And Certification Affect The Average Salary
There are a number of very important factors which will certainly affect the amount of the average dental assistant salary. As mentioned above, the location in which you pursue your career will definitely have some effect on the ultimate total of your salary.
Another important factor in determining the overall quality of your dental assistant salary will be your education. To be employed as a dental assistant, you must first pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination.
The CDA exam is administered under the supervision of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and is absolutely required if you are to work in this field. In order to ensure that you have the necessary qualifications to be able to take the exam in the first place, you will first need to have attended a program that offers training in this field.
Receiving The Necessary Training To Achieve The Best Possible Salary
As of 2014, there are over 270 training programs across the United States that receive certification from the Committee On Dental Assisting (CODA), which is itself a major component of the American Dental Association (ADA). You can find these training programs at community colleges and universities, as well as vocational education centers, all across the country.
However, not all dental assistant training programs are officially certified by CODA. If you choose to attend one of these programs, you will still most likely receive the necessary education, but will have to independently arrange to take the CDA exam in order to properly certified to pursue employment in this field.
Your Potential Salary Is Affected By Your Level Of Education
There are some individuals who will be able to complete an on the job training program by working with a dentist who is willing to take them on. In this case, you may qualify to take the CDA exam by completing an average of two years in the capacity of an apprentice.
In general, a potential employer will look at your educational resume when deciding whether or not to offer you a job. While on the job experience may count as a bonus with some employers, it is an excellent idea to have at least a year or so of official CODA certified schooling as a part of your CV.
The more qualifications you have for the job, the more flexible your employment options will be. Likewise, the potential for a great initial salary offer with plenty of promotion options, will depend initially on your level of experience (although, ultimately, upon the quality of your job performance).
Specialized Training Can Enhance Your Ultimate Salary
All those who expect to pass the CDA exam must also pass an examination in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This is a required component of your dental assistant training.
In addition to learning CPR, a prospective dental assistant may be required to receive an expert certification in certain other components of the CDA exam. These specific components will vary from state to state. Becoming certified as an expert in these specific components will not only qualify you to work as a dental assistant in a particular state, but will also generally enhance your initial salary.
Radiation Health And Safety
Some states will emphasize the Radiation Health And Safety portion of the general CDA exam. This means that the person taking the test will need to have expert knowledge on avoiding radiation contamination of themselves and patients when using machinery such as x-ray machines, among others.
Other states will emphasize the Infection Control portion of the CDA exam. This portion of the test deals with ensuring that an assistant has the necessary knowledge and skills to avoid spreading infection from handling such items as discarded mouth guards, teeth molds, braces, etc.
General Chairside Assisting
Some states will emphasize the General Chairside Assisting portion of the CDA exam. This means that potential dental assistants will need to demonstrate an exceptional ability to pay attention to, and follow, the requests of the dentist they are working with. An ability to demonstrate superior assisting skills will certainly be an asset in your favor when you are seeking a superior salary as a dental assistant.