A Breakdown of the 2021 Dental Salary Survey

2020 was anything but a typical year for dental practices with mandatory shutdowns and patients hesitant to return to the office amid the ongoing pandemic, which is why it’s more important than ever to benchmark salary and compensation plans compared to other dental professionals and practices. Changes to practice operations, production schedules, and everyday tasks and responsibilities of dental team members occurred as a result of COVID-19. But did it change or affect compensation and benefits? Here are the basics from the latest Dental Salary Survey from DentalPost.

Big picture

COVID-19 impacted the workforce in ways we’re still trying to understand. Of the 10,890 dental professionals surveyed nationwide, 35% will seek new employment in 2021, while 7.5% said they will wait until circumstances improve. Reasons include 36% of dentists reporting being compensated less following the pandemic, while dental hygienists report making slightly more, all while 11% said they are working more hours. Of note, many respondents stated they were required to use paid vacation time and sick time to cover the period of office shutdown, during which time they received no payment.

Dental hygienists

The average full-time dental hygienist salary ranges from $51,000 to $70,000, with more than 15% of registered dental hygienists earning more than $80,000 annually. Notably, RDH salaries well-exceed the median income for full-time working females in the U.S., which averaged $47,299 in 2019.

Dental assistants

The majority of dental assistants reported earning between $31,000 and $40,000 annually. 28% reported earning below $30,000 per year, and slightly more than 10% reported $50,000 or more annually. However, 32% of respondents reported receiving some type of bonus in the past two years, and 65% received a pay raise in the same time period.

Front office staff

48% of front office team members reported earning less than $40,000 per year, while 38% earn between $41,000 and $60,000. Of note, salaries increased in conjunction with experience, though rarely do these team members exceed $70,000 per year in salary.


60% of dentists who responded had more than 20 years of experience, most of whom are also practice owners. 40% estimated their annual income exceeding $200,000 in 2020. 36% of dentists surveyed said they have taken a pay cut this year. 14% reported a salary range of $126,000 to $150,000, 11% between $151,000 and $175,000, and 8% ranged from $176,000 to $200,000.

What’s next?

Contact the experts at Professional Transition Strategies to learn more about how your dental practice stacks up against the rest.