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1.16.09 Issue #358 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Hiring? How Do Your Assistant Salaries Compare?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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It is said that money isn’t everything, but in these uncertain economic times, there’s certainly no shortage of discussion on the topic of dollars and cents. And if you’re in the market to hire a dental assistant you’ll no doubt want to know just how much money you’ll need to be seen as a competitive employer in today’s dental marketplace.

The recently released Show Me The Money DANB Certificant Salary Survey released by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is an essential tool in determining how your wages compare to state and national averages. 

If your practice is in West Virginia, results show that dental offices there tend to be on the low end of the salary equation. West Virginia dentists are paying assistants $13.62 an hour on average. Their neighbors to the Northeast in Massachusetts, however, hold the top salary spot at $24 per hour.

Nationwide, the median salary per hour is $18.00 for certified dental assistants and $15.62 for non-certified assistants.  Salaries are up more than 8% for certified dental assistants over those reported in 2006 when survey results showed the median salary at $16.50 per hour, compared to $14.74 for non-certified assistants.

As would be expected, certified dental assistants with more experience earn higher wages. Those starting out in the profession with 0-5 years experience make $15 per hour on average. Those working in the field between 16 and 20 years earn $18 per hour. And assistants working in periodontal offices earn the highest salaries on average at $19.

Although the assumption may be that large cities and metropolitan practices must pay more, the survey results don’t bear that out. The median salary for both rural areas and large cities is $18.00. Those locations described as metropolitan pay $18.98 on average.

The DANB survey was conducted during the first quarter of 2008. Approximately 5,000 surveys were mailed to a nationwide random sample of certified dental assistants, and 26%, or 1321, returned the surveys.

click to view larger (pdf)Salary Survey Map 2008

Now that you have an idea of what you’ll need to pay, next turn your attention to making sure the next assistant you hire is the best.

Follow these steps and always hire smart – not fast.

  1. Assess the systems before you bring in a new employee.
  2. Take 15 minutes and think about what you want the person in this position to do. Do you want someone who is accountable, ambitious, and willing to learn new things? Or will a “chair-warmer” do?
  3. Plan to provide training. Give the new hire the tools and teaching to achieve their best and you’ll both benefit significantly.
  4. Update or write a job description for the job tailored to attract the employee you need. Include the job title, job summary, and specific duties. This is a simple yet critical tool that clarifies what skills the applicant must possess and explains what duties they would perform.
  5. Develop an ad and place it on multiple websites and in multiple publications. Promote those aspects of the job that will have the greatest appeal, including money. Ads that do not include salary are ignored by 50% of job prospects. Sell the position. Keep the copy simple but answer the reader’s questions – job title, job scope, duties, responsibilities, benefits, application procedures, financial incentives, and location. If you have a website, direct prospects to your website to learn more about your practice and the position.
  6. Pre-screen applicants on the phone. Address your most pressing concerns up front. If there are gaps in employment history, now is the time to find out why.
  7. Conduct interviews using a written set of standard questions for each applicant to compare responses to the sa.
  8. me questions.
  9. Test for the best. The McKenzie Management Employee Assessment test is a computerized assessment tool that measures dental practice job applicants against a profile of the “ideal” dental practice employee for each position. Applicants being considered answer a list of questions online. Just minutes later, the dentist receives a statistically reliable report enabling her/him to clearly determine if the candidate under consideration would be a good match for the dental practice position being filled.
  10. Check references and confirm work histories.
  11. Pay a competitive wage. Hire the best. Give feedback often. And enjoy the benefits

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