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Salary survey results say CDAs still earning more!

Once again, a Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. survey on salary variances in the dental assisting profession revealed that assistants who are DANB Certified make more than those who are not Certified.

Responding to many requests regarding salary information (from Certificants, employers, national organizations, etc.) DANB followed up to its well-received Show Me The Money Salary Survey in 2002 with this recent effort in March of 2004.

DANB's 2004 Show Me The Money Salary Survey indicates that the median salary of Certified Assistants is $15.48 an hour, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last reported in 2002 that the median hourly wage for non-Certified assistants was $13.10 an hour. When adjusted for 3% inflation, the median hourly salary of non-Certified dental assistants is $13.90 in 2004, meaning DANB Certified Assistants make on average, $1.58 more an hour than non-DANB Certified assistants.

For this second DANB Show Me The Money Salary Survey, approximately 5,000 surveys were mailed to a nationwide random sample, stratified by state, of current DANB Certified Assistants. An impressive 28.5% returned the survey to ensure solid research data.

According to the results of the survey, most DANB Certified Assistants work full time (Chart 1) and in General Dentistry (Chart 2) in a Private Practice office setting (Chart 3).

With access to care standing as one of the major issues in the oral healthcare community, the low-turnover rate of DANB Certified Assistants is a significant story. The 2004 DANB survey reinforces the data from the 2002 DANB Salary Survey and continues to indicate that dental assistants who are cCertified stay in the profession, on average 14.4 years and with the same employer for over eight years! (Chart 1) These data indicate that CDAs remain in the profession nearly three times as long as non-Certified assistants, and remain loyal to the same employer nearly twice as long.

With the high costs involved in the recruitment and training of staff, retention is key to managing the dentist/employer's bottom line. DANB Certified Assistants make for better business!

Certified Assistants working in specialty practices (Chart 2) make more than those employed in general dental practice, with prosthodontic assistants earning the most at $17.37 an hour.

The Northeast region of the United States (Chart 4) pays the most on average for Certified Assistants, followed by the West Coast, North Central, South Central and then Southeast regions of the country, respectively.

More than half of all DANB Certified Assistants responding to DANB's survey receive paid vacation (87%), paid holidays (83%), free dental care (64%), paid sick leave (59%), reimbursement for continuing education (57%), a 401K pension plan (56%), health insurance (53%), and a uniform allowance (52%).

Less than half of those DANB Certificants surveyed received: a bonus (46%), reimbursement for Certification or state registration renewal (28%), dental insurance (20%), life insurance (20%), profit sharing (18%), reimbursement for ADAA dues (15%), disability insurance (12%), malpractice insurance (7%) and child care allowance (1%).

More than half of all DANB Certified Assistants responding to the survey believe that the following are benefits to being DANB Certified: self-gratification (83%), personal pride (74%) and recognition by their employer (56%). Many believe there are additional benefits: career mobility through a nationally recognized credential (46%), recognition by the dental community (44%), higher salary than non-Certified assistants (44%), patient respect for the credential and DANB-required CDE attendance (36%), potential for more duties beyond non Certified colleagues (36%), elevation of the profession (36%), state allowance of more duties than non-Certified (30%) and representation on the DANB Board through Certificant-at-Large (22%).

Six hundred and twenty respondents (54%) believe there is NOT an adequate supply of chairside assistants in their area. When asked the reason for the short supply, the following top three reasons were chosen: low pay (73%), low status of the profession (52%) and a lack of respect from their employers/other dental professionals (50%).

The primary suggestions chosen for solutions to this shortage were: providing higher wages (89%), working to gain respect for the profession (65%), promoting dental assisting in high schools (60%) and encouraging expanded functions for dental assistants (58%).

When negotiating a salary, Betty Ladley Finkbeiner, CDA, RDA, MS, suggests specific factors that should be considered. Ms. Finkbeiner is Chairperson of the Dental Assisting Program at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has served as a consultant and staff representative for the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation.

In an article published in the American Dental Assistants Association's Dental Assistant, November/December 2000 issue, Ms. Finkbeiner writes that the factors that impact the salary for each dental auxiliary should be job responsibilities, employee credentials, employee performance and commensurate jobs in the community. "Each job description in the dental office should include a list of tasks that must be performed, credentials needed for the job, continuing education requirements and include a performance evaluation instrument for the job," she says.

The employee, Ms. Finkbeiner believes, should obtain credentials necessary to perform the job. Many assistants frequently say their employer tells them it is not necessary to have credentials. "This is simply not true," she says. A dental assistant who performs a task for which he or she is not qualified or one that is not legally delegable in a state is performing an illegal act and can face potential litigation.

"A dental assistant with credentials has negotiating power. The more credentials an assistant has, the greater the power in negotiating a fair and equitable salary," says Ms. Finkbeiner.

Support for the notion that Certified employees earn more than non-Certified comes from a survey done in September of 2003 by the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). Of the certification and licensure professionals from 271 national certification organizations who responded to NOCA's on-line poll, 52% reported that certificants in their respective industries received higher compensation than those without certification. William Kersten, a member of the NOCA Board of Directors, says "Certifications give job candidates another venue to enter the workforce or change jobs and help employees attain the highly valued attributes employers are looking for."

In March 2003, an article in USA Today advised workers to increase their value in the workplace by seeking new or advanced skills that are highly regarded in the market.

With 36 states currently recognizing or requiring that dental assistants are DANB Certified or pass a DANB national or state exam (Chart 4), DANB is working to enhance the dental assisting profession by promoting a defined career ladder for dental assistants, leading to a more highly qualified dental team and increased public protection.
National Median Hourly Salary

Full Time Non-DANB
Certified Dental Assistant $13.90 *

Full Time DANB
Certified Dental Assistant $15.48

* 2002 Bureau of Labor Statistics
(adjusted for cost of living
increases--3% per year

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Chart 1: DANB Certified Assistant/Respondents

Employment Schedule *
 Full-Time
 35+ Hours Per Week 74%
 Part-Time
 Less Than 35 Hours Per Week 23%
 Temporary/Fill In 3%

Years Employed (avg.)
 As a Practicing Dental Assistant 14.4 YEARS
 Time with Current Employer 8.6 YEARS

* 1% of respondents did not respond to this survey question

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Chart 2: DANB Certified Assistants/Respondents
Median Hourly Salary

By Type of Practice

70% of respondents
work as CDAs
in general dentistry

 Percentage of
 Respondents

Endodontic Assistant 2% $14.45
General Dentistry Dental Assistant 70% $15.00
Periodontic Assistant 3% $15.25
Pedodontic Assistant 4% $16.00
Oral Surgery Assistant 4% $16.25
Orthodontic Assistant 5% $16.27
Prosthodontic Assistant 1% $17.37

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Chart 3: DANB Certified Assistants/Respondents
Median Hourly Salary

By Practice/Office Setting

83% of respondents
work in a private
practice

 Percentage of
 Respondents

State Municipal Health Dept. 1% $13.00
Clinic/HMO 4% $13.88
Prison 1% $14.61
Other 2% $15.00
Private Practice 83% $15.50
Military 1% $15.66
Hospital 2% $16.94
College /University 3% $17.10
Vocation School 2% $18.60

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Chart 4: Median Hourly Salary By State

Alabama $13.95
Alaska $20.00
Arizona $16.00#
Arkansas $13.00#
California $18.00
Colorado $18.00#
Connecticut $17.00#
Delaware $16.00#
Florida $15.00
Georgia $17.00
Hawaii $15.00
Idaho $14.88#
Illinois $15.00#
Indiana $15.00#
Iowa $14.28#
Kansas $14.50
Kentucky $13.25#
Louisiana $12.50
Maine $15.49#
Maryland $17.00#
Massachusetts $19.00#
Michigan $15.00
Minnesota $18.50
Mississippi $14.00#
Missouri $13.55#
Montana $13.50#
Nebraska $15.00#
Nevada $16.50
New Hampshire $17.80#
New Jersey $17.50#
New Mexico $14.25#
New York $14.92#
North Carolina $14.50#
North Dakota $14.00#
Ohio $15.50#
Oklahoma $13.39
Oregon $15.50#
Pennsylvania $15.90
Rhode Island $16.69#
South Carolina $13.43#
South Dakota $14.00#
Tennessee $14.00#
Texas $15.38#
Utah $11.38#
Vermont $17.00#
Virginia $14.50#
Washington $16.25#
West Virginia $12.25
Wisconsin $15.00
Wyoming $17.00#

States that recognize or require that dental
assistants be DANB Certified or pass a DANB
national or state exam are listed in green.

Note: Listed in green indicated with #.

Chart 5: DANB Certified Assistants/Respondents
Median Hourly Salary

By Years in the Profession

54% of respondents
have worked in the
profession for 15
years or less

 Percentage of
 Respondents

0-5 years 20% $13.00
6-10 years 18% $15.00
11-15 years 16% $15.80
16-20 years 15% $16.50
21-25 years 11% $16.50
26-30 years 9% $17.00
31-35 years 3% $17.00
36-40 years 1% $16.50
41-45 years .5% $15.00

Note: Table made from bar graph.


Reprinted from DANB Certified Press, Volume 22 Issue 4, Fall 2004. [C] 2004 The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)
COPYRIGHT 2005 American Dental Assistants Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Personal Business; California Dental Association
Publication:The Dental Assistant
Article Type:Reprint
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:1633
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