Career Outlook

Prevalence of Dental Assistants

According to the US Department of Labor (DOL), there are approximately 300,000 dental assistants currently working in the United States with over 9000 in New Jersey alone. In the Garden State (NJ) there are approximately 4 million employees across all professions, which means that less than ¼ of 1% of all people working in NJ are dental assistants. This tells us that there is still plenty of room for growth in this career path.

Further, 3% of all US dental assistants work in New Jersey. If every state had an equal amount, then 2% of all dental assistants would work in NJ. However given that NJ has one of the nation’s highest populations 3% is about average. Again, this suggests that there is plenty of room for growth while also proving that dental assisting is a well established career in the Garden State.

Also according to the DOL, approximately 93% of dental assistants work for a dentist in a dental office. Others find work in places such as physician offices and with the government.

On a nationwide basis, those who work for the federal government earned the most. The second highest paying employer nationwide are specialty hospitals (such as those that specialize in psychiatric care), though there are very few of these positions available. Among the more common employers, general hospitals ranked slightly higher nationwide in terms of pay than did private dental offices.


Employment Opportunities

Dental assistants can be found in a variety of settings. A Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) survey was conducted that showed the following information. You may notice that some of the numbers will vary from the DOL data cited above. This is due in part to the fact that the DANB survey was conducted on Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certificants, while the DOL data is representative of all dental assistants regardless of what type of credentials they may or may not hold. There will also be some variability in the numbers due to the nature of statistical methodology (i.e., the way that studies such as these are conducted).


Private offices 75%
Educational 12%
Hospitals 3%
Other/ Misc. 3%
Military 2%
Health department 1%
Prisons <1%
of Area:
Small city or suburb 46%
Large city 27%
Rural area 17%
Metropolitan area 10%
Type of Dental Practice: Percentage:
General dentistry 71%
Multi-speciality 9%
Orthodontic 5%
Pediatric 5%
Oral surgery 5%
Endodontic 2%
Periodontic 2%
Prosthodontic <1%
of Employment:
Full-time 73%
Part-time 24%
Temporary 3%

Employment Projections

Dental assisting is expected to be among the fastest growing fields this decade. The DOL expects that the trend of hiring experienced dental assistants over inexperienced assistants will continue. In other words, those who have completed a formal training program and who are certified and/or licensed will have more job opportunities.

Specifically, dental assisting as a field is expected to grow an impressive 36% by the end of 2018! See below to compare this to other quickly growing professions.

There are a number of reasons for this large projection in growth. People are living longer. This means that as the population continues to age there will be an increased need for trained individuals to help with their oral healthcare. Also as people learn more about the benefits of and engage in more preventative dental care still other people who have not traditionally been to a dental office are expected to do so in the next decade. Sedation dentistry, holistic practices, and improved technology are also expected to encourage more people who have hesitated to seek proper dental care to do so in the future.

Additionally, studies have shown that younger dentists are more likely than their older counterparts to employee dental assistants. As more dentists retire and are replaced by younger ones, there should be an increase in the hiring of dental assistants. Furthermore, as the workloads of dentists continue to increase they will likely hire more dental assistants so that they can focus their time and attention on more complex procedures.

Fastest Growing Professions

According to the Department of Labor, dental assisting is projected to be amongst the fastest growing occupations this decade. Below you will find two versions of the same chart. The first ranks professions according to the actual number of jobs that are expected to be added between 2008 and 2018, while the second ranks the same professions according to the percentage of job growth.

Ranked according to jobs expected to be added

Rank: Profession: Number
of Jobs Expected to be Added:
1 Home health aides 460,900 50%
2 Personal and home care aides 375,800 46%
3 Computer software engineers 175,100 34%
4 Medical assistants 163,900 34%
5 Network systems analysts 155,800 53%
6 Dental
105,600 36%
7 Self-enrichment teachers 81,300 32%
8 Compliance officers 80,800 31%
9 Dental hygienists 62,900 36%
10 Medical scientists 44,200 40%
11 Physician assistants 29,200 39%
12 Veterinary technicians 28,500 36%
13 Physical therapist assistants 21,200 33%
14 Veterinarians 19,700 33%
15 Physical therapist aides 16,700 36%
16 Aestheticians 14,700 38%
17 Biomedical engineers 11,600 72%
18 Financial examiners 11,100 41%
19 Biochemists and biophysicists 8700 37%
20 Athletic trainers 6000 37%
for chart obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Rank: Profession: Percentage
of Jobs Expected to be Added:
1 Biomedical engineers 72% 11,600
2 Network systems analysts 53% 155,800
3 Home health aides 50% 460,900
4 Personal and home care aides 46% 375,800
5 Financial examiners 41% 11,100
6 Medical scientists 40% 44,200
7 Physician assistants 39% 29,200
8 Aestheticians 38% 14,700
9 Biochemists and biophysicists 37% 8700
10 Athletic trainers 37% 6000
11 Physical therapist aides 36% 16,700
12 Dental hygienists 36% 62,900
13 Veterinary technicians 36% 28,500
14 Dental
36% 105,600
15 Computer software engineers 34% 175,100
16 Medical assistants 34% 163,900
17 Physical therapist assistants 33% 21,200
18 Veterinarians 33% 19,700
19 Self-enrichment teachers 32% 81,300
20 Compliance officers 31% 80,800
for chart obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

How New Jersey Stacks Up

Salary Rankings by State for CDA Certificants

Rank: State:
1 District of Columbia
2 New Jersey
3 New Hampshire
4 Vermont
5 California
6 Massachusetts & Virginia
8 Alaska
9 Minnesota
10 Arizona, Connecticut, Ohio, & Maryland
48 Wyoming
49 New Mexico
50 Kansas
*Data for chart obtained from a DANB survey.

Salary Rankings by State for All Dental Assistants:

Rank: State:
1 Delaware
2 District of Columbia
3 Maine
4 New Jersey
5 California
6 Alaska
7 Rhode Island
8 Massachusetts
9 New Hampshire
10 Maryland
48 Utah
49 South Dakota
50 Alabama
*Data for chart obtained from 729 Dental Assisting Digest readers.