3.18.11 Issue #471 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Is It Time To Consider A Raise?
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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As the economic tide slowly turns, employers are beginning to consider if it is time to thaw the salary freeze that the recession forced upon many businesses, small and large. Dental employees, like many workers across the country, have seen their salaries stagnate over the past couple years. The economic state of the union has taken its toll on practices, as evidenced by the recently released Dental Assistant National Board DANB Certificant Salary Survey issued by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

Nationwide, the median salary per hour is $18.50 for certified dental assistants (full-time and part-time) and $16.49 for non-certified assistants. Salaries are up just over 3% for certified dental assistants over those reported in 2008 when the survey results showed the median salary of $18.00. However, that percentage increase is significantly lower than two years before when survey results showed the median salary for certified dental assistants increased to $18.00 from $16.50 per hour, an 8% jump.

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 $19 per hour. Assistants working in prosthodontic offices earn the highest salaries on average at $21.02. Assistants working in pediatric practices reported the lowest salaries on average at $16.77 per hour. General dentistry assistants came in at $18.18 on average. Dental assistant salaries are highest in the nation’s capital where the average hourly wage is reported at $23. Assistants earn the lowest wages in Kansas where the average rate is $14.95 per hour.

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 small city or suburb and large cities is $18.47 and $18.50 respectively, a modest difference between the two. Locations described as metropolitan pay $19.00 on average. With regard to benefits, 61% report having a pension/401(k) plan; 56% receive free dental care; 54% receive health insurance; 52% receive reimbursement for continuing education; and 30% report reimbursement for certification or state registration and renewal. The DANB survey results are based on a 17% response, and they were released in the winter 2011 issue of DANB Certified Press.

Certainly, many practice owners have been wrestling with whether they should increase compensation for employees. I recently heard from “Dr. Bill” who acknowledges that compensation for his team members is among the lowest in his area. It has been a struggle for Dr. Bill from day one. He opened his practice in 2008, which is when the worst of the recession began to unfold. Nonetheless, his practice has continued to grow thanks to the insurance plans that he accepts. However, that too is a double-edge sword because he must accept assignment of benefits, which means writing off 45% of his fees annually. Dr. Bill genuinely appreciates his staff, all of whom have stayed with him in spite of the fact that no one, including Dr. Bill, has seen a raise in some time. He sincerely wants to reward his team for their loyalty and hard work. The question is, can he afford it?

Next week, understanding the impact of that “little” pay increase.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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