The median salary in the United States for a dental assistant was $15.57 an hour or $32,380. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $46,150” (Bureau of Labor Statistics). While the median salary doesn’t sound like much, it is important to remember that the profession often requires little more than four months worth of training and often pays more, depending on the specialization and the advanced training of the dental assistant. There are several paths one can follow when it comes to be a dental assistant, making it one of the most lucrative positions for the level of education required. This article will provide an overview of the salary potential for dental assistants and give an outlook for earning potential.
Many dental assistants opt for furthering their education, becoming dental hygienists. If a dental assistant completes a one year program in dental sciences, the additional education to become a dental hygienist is not that much more intensive. The difference between the two positions is about a year’s worth of schooling, including classes in anatomy, radiology, and nutrition, but the payoff is significantly greater, raising the median salary to $66,570. In simple English, this would suggest that one more year is worth more than $34190, quite a substantial jump. California’s salaries for dental hygienists were reported even higher, at $87,460, but, as their cost of living is higher, this isn’t a fair comparison.
Another option for dental assistance is in the area of military careers with dental assisting. As with other medical fields, the exercising such an options provides other benefits as well. Not only will the military pay for your education, but there are also other reasons why someone might opt for such a track. There are, on average 15 different specialties within the military for dental assistants. Such a route would also afford the candidate some options not found in the civilian sector, like 30 days paid vacation and year and complete medical and dental benefits. Let’s not forget full room and board. Those who like the idea of serving their country but not being on the field would find such an alternative attractive as well.
Serving in such a capacity also means that you have the possibility of being promoted to specialist, fourth class, specialist sergeant and up. It also means you are eligible for military retirement, where you will collect 90 percent of your regular pay plus benefits. Very often, people will retire from military service and find that they are able to earn another salary in the private sector on top of their retirement.
The fact is, like so much else in life, the more education you receive in this field, the more you are eligible to earn and the more options you will have in deciding where your career will take you. Very few jobs pay this much money commensurate to such beginning levels of education.