Answering 8 of the most-asked questions about dental salaries, hiring, and more

Dental Assistant Woman 2

DentalPost’s fourth annual dental salary survey of nearly 3,500 respondents across various positions in the dental profession delivered important insights that will help dental practice owners with compensation, retention, and hiring over the coming year.

4 key takeaways

The survey reported some eyebrow-raising findings, including the following:

  • After taking a salary cut in 2022, responding general dentists who are practice owners modestly increased their personal earnings by an average 3.7% in 2023.

  • In 2023, responding associate dentists and practice managers had higher percentage income increases than the dental hygienists and dental assistants who were in greatest demand. (See data below.)

  • Over 50% of dental employees are actively or passively looking at job openings going into 2024.

  • Just over 67% of jobseekers will be searching on dental-specific online job boards and 30% will conduct their search on social media.

Answers to 8 big questions

Did more dental professionals change employment in 2023 than in previous years?

The data indicate yes -- 19% changed employment in 2023 compared with 16% in 2022.

Did salary and wages have an impact on the increased job changeover?

The data indicate yes. When job changers were asked to select up to three motivations that had the most impact on their decisions, four motivations surfaced: 54% said higher pay, 51% a better work environment influenced their decision, 38% said a more appreciative employer, and 33% said better hours swayed them.  

Did salary and wages rise across all positions?

Yes, but for some positions more than others. In the case of front-office receptionists/administrative associates, their total income decreased as their average hours per week decreased. (See data below.)

Did benefits increase in 2023?

Yes. In 2023, the percentage of dental employees receiving a variety of employee benefits increased from 70% to 85%. Better benefits factored into 27% of job changers’ decisions.

Did those who changed jobs meet their goals?

More than 80% of job changers responded yes.

What do 2024 jobseekers want?

The top three motivations across all positions are as follows: 37% want higher pay, 24% want a better work environment, and 11% desire better benefits. Higher pay jumps to over 50% for billing specialists and front-desk receptionists/administrative associates.

Associate dentists also are seeking more autonomy and access to high-value dental cases. When asked about which benefits they want most, paid time off (PTO) or more PTO is the top response offered by employees who already have health and retirement benefits.

Will job changeover in 2024 be as great or greater than in 2023?

Hundreds of open comments from dentists indicate they are finding it increasingly difficult to meet wage expectations. Given the difficulty of most dental practices to increase earnings, jobseekers may be disappointed in their search for higher wages, resulting in a greater percentage of dental employees deciding to stay with their current employer. Employers are likely to have the most impact on hiring by their ability to demonstrate a happy, appreciative, and collaborative work environment.

Do dental team members with advanced certifications earn more?

Yes. In 2023, front-office team members and dental assistants with an American Association of Dental Office Management designation, a Dental Assisting National Board certification, and/or a expanded function dental assistant certification averaged higher earnings (4% higher for dental assistants and 7% higher for front-office staff).

Dentist snapshot

The income of dentists trended upward in 2023.

Type of practice represented

  • Private: 90.5%
  • Corporate (dental service organization: 9.5%)

Mean 2023 income

  • Owner: $300,273 (year-over-year increase: 3.7%)
  • Associate: $217,867 (year-over-year increase: 11.3%)

Associates on the move

  • 28% changed employers in 2023
  • 57% are considering a job change in 2024

Registered dental hygienist snapshot

The average income of registered dental hygienists (RDHs) increased by 7.6% in 2023. Slightly over 57% reported a pay raise of 5% or more.

Mean 2023 income: $79,340 

RDHs on the move

  • 19% of RDHs changed employers in 2023
  • 41.5% are considering a job change in 2024

Dental assistant snapshot

The average income of dental assistants (DAs) rose 4.2% in 2023. 

Mean 2023 income: $44,295

DAs on the move

  • 25% changed employers in 2023
  • 59% are considering a job change in 2024

Front-office staff snapshot

The average income of dental practice managers increased by 13% in 2023, but the average income of billing specialists and other front-office staff decreased by 3.4% due to fewer work hours per week.

Mean 2023 incomes

  • Practice manager: $76,279 
  • Billing specialist: $47,683
  • Other front-office staff: $42,416

Staff on the move

Below are the percentages of practice staff who reported changing employers in 2023: 

  • Practice managers: 7.8%
  • Billing specialists: 17.3%
  • Other front-office staff: 17.7%

In addition, 44% said they are considering a job change in 2024.

To learn more, download DentalPost's 2024 salary report.

John Riley is the executive vice president of Alatus Solutions, a marketing technology firm that provides specialized marketing, membership, hiring solutions, and dedicated support to dental practices and organizations across the nation.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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