Dental Assistant Salary in California, CA

Being a dental assistant is a rewarding career, and is the fastest way to get your foot into the health care field. The dental assistant’s salary in California will depend on various factors like the population of the area, competitiveness of the market, and the living standards of the area. In this article, we’ll explore how much a dental assistant can make in California, and the factors determining this.

The Kinds of Dental Assistants in California

There are different levels of being a dental assistant depending on certifications and school a person has completed. California does have a high demand for dental assistants, but also is demanding with what they require to become a DA. Let’s look at the different categories of dental assistants:

  • Unlicensed Dental Assistant
  • Registered Dental Assistant
  • Registered Dental Assistant in extended functions
  • Nationally Certified Dental Assistant

Dental Assistant Salary in CaliforniaYour salary will depend on which category you are in here. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at in 2012, California has the most dental assistants by far in America. There are $43,470 total with the second largest amount in Texas with $22,720. This means there are many opportunities in California, also there are over 50 accredited dental schools in California. The number of new DA jobs projected to be created from 2010-2020 is 5,300.


Average Dental Assistant Salaries in CA

dental assistant



Dental Assistants make an average of $36,660 annually in California, with the top end of the spectrum around $45,000, and the lower end around $26,800. Whether your at the top end of the spectrum or the lower depends on the list above. There is rapid advancement available, and if this is a career choice you can become Nationally Certified and be on the top end of the pay scale.

Dental Assistants (SOC code 319091) Salary in CA

Area name
Employment Number
Hourly mean wage
Annual mean wage
Salinas, CA41017.9337300
Chico, CAn/a16.6034530
El Centro, CA12018.2437940
Fresno, CA80016.4734250
Hanford-Corcoran, CA16019.8841340
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division1034016.8535050
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA1534017.0935550
Madera-Chowchilla, CA12019.2039940
Merced, CA19015.2931810
Modesto, CA55016.2933880
Napa, CAn/a18.5738630
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division298019.1639840
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA100015.9333140
Redding, CA21017.1635700
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA456015.8032870
Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA284017.8237060
Bakersfield-Delano, CA81014.0529210
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA325018.0237480
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA530020.7243100
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division232022.7347280
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA276018.3138090
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA32017.9837390
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division500017.5936590
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA52016.2533800
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA38017.4736340
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA61021.3344360
Stockton, CA65015.8532970
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA61020.6242890
Visalia-Porterville, CA45016.7634860
Yuba City, CA14017.0135380
Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area18020.0741750
North Coast Region of California nonmetropolitan area40017.4336250
North Valley Region of California nonmetropolitan area5016.8735100
Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area21018.4738410

How to Get Paid More as a DA in California

Becoming better trained and more useful as a DA, will result in you making more money. These factors may influence which direction you take when starting out. The difference between the spectrum of salaries is around nearly $20,000, so choosing the best path to optimize your salary is key. Here are some of the requirements needed for each level, but remember this is only an overview.

While in other states an unlicensed DA can start out with on-the-job training, in California an unlicensed DA will have to show proof of completing a course approved by the California Dental Board, which adheres to the California Dental Practice Act. The DA will also have to take a course in infection control approved by the CDB, and a course in hands-on simulated clinical scenarios approved by either the AAA or ARC.

Become a Dental Assistant in CA

To become a registered dental assistant you’ll have to complete a RDA program approved by the CDB and complete 15 months of on-the-job training. You’ll have to take various other courses and then apply for a license as an RDA with the Dental Board of California. To become Nationally Certified you’ll have to graduate from an accredited DA program and then take the DANB exam.

California’s Best and Worst Paying Locations

California is such a large state, so which areas are the best for DA’s salaries? One of the highest paying areas is in Anaheim, where the average DA makes $37, 231, also in Petaluma where the average is $36,626. Some of the worst salary averages were in Bakersfield, with an average of $34, 912, and Sacramento with $35,315. Mostly though, the averages are very close throughout the state, so money doesn’t need to be the determining factor. Compared to other states California is about average, the top average for salaries being in New Hampshire, where a DA makes an average of $43,480.

As you can see a dental assistant salary in California depends on the many different factors we’ve gone over here. The field is growing and it remains the quickest and easiest way to get your foot into the health field. The benefits of being a DA are great, and the pay can be great too, if your willing to grow with the job over time. Dental assistants are a vital job for the dental industry, and California has the greatest need and demand for them.

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