What is a dentist’s salary?
When it comes to earning money, it’s the people who work in your dentist’s office, not the dentist himself, that decide how much money is paid to them, a new study suggests.
The findings could help dentists make more informed decisions about their workforce, said study author David Lai, a researcher at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
The study examined a sample of dental schools in California and the US, including the state’s public school system, and found that the average salary of a dental school’s dental assistant was $42,000.
But in California, the state where the study was conducted, dental assistants were paid only $30,000, and some received as little as $11,000 per year, according to the authors.
Lai and his co-author, associate professor of economics and public policy at the City University of New York Graduate Center, compared the dental assistants’ salaries to the state median income.
The median wage in the US is $48,500.
“The data show that a lot of dental assistants earn much less than they would have been if they were earning their full salary,” said Lai.
“This means that the majority of dental workers in the state of California don’t earn the kind of income that is necessary to provide dental services at a high level.”
The researchers looked at a variety of professions, including dentistry, cosmetic surgery, nursing, pharmacy, and medical services.
For example, the study found that dental assistants earned only $9,500 per year on average, compared with $44,000 for dental hygienists.
Other occupations, including nursing, dentistry and pharmacy, were also underrepresented.
They only earned $17,000 and $22,000 respectively.
But the study did not investigate whether the disparity in dental assistant salaries was due to a shortage of qualified dental assistants, or if the pay disparities were more reflective of the state-level median income, the researchers said.
The researchers used data from the California state Department of Occupations and Industries (DOI) to examine the dental assistant profession’s earnings, according a press release.
DOI’s website states that dental assistant jobs are among the fastest growing professions in the country, and that the state has the fifth-highest percentage of dental assistant graduates in the United States.
The dental assistant occupation is one of several jobs in the field that is projected to grow by 30 percent or more in the next five years, according the report.
Lays said the data showed that dental aides were among the least well paid occupations in the profession, because the median salary of the profession was so low.
“If you look at the median income for dental assistants in the states with the highest dental assistant earnings, that’s $37,000,” he said.
“It’s $13,000 less than in the lower income states.”
For dental assistants who are earning less than the state average, the pay disparity is particularly significant, the authors said.
For instance, they found that a dental assistant earning $11 an hour was paid $9.75 less than a dental aide earning $15 an hour.
However, they noted that there are other factors that contribute to disparities in dental assistants salaries.
The state of Florida has a minimum wage of $8.25 per hour.
A person who works full time in a restaurant, for example, would have a salary of $11.50, but their hourly wage would be $6.50.
Laid off employees in Florida also have to pay more in taxes, which contributes to the disparity, according Lai’s research.
The California state minimum wage is $10.10 per hour, according TOEFLs minimum wage guide, while the US state minimum wages are $7.25 an hour for salaried workers and $7 an hour per hour for unpaid workers.
However if someone is working part time for less than that, then their hourly pay would be lower, he said, as they’d have to work fewer hours in order to get by.
Latshe said that the data could be used to determine whether dentists should be required to offer a higher level of dental care.
“We’re talking about dental assistants as individuals, not as part of the workforce, so the pay gap for dental assistant is a huge problem,” Latshee said.
But he said the current state of dental health care is a big part of what makes dental assistants attractive, as the industry has grown and doctors have moved to more lucrative industries.
“In order to attract doctors, dentists are going to need to find a way to make a living,” he added.
“I think it would be really important for dentists to understand that the way they pay their dental assistants is the way that will attract the most doctors, not a different pay scale.”
Contact Lauren Leggett at [email protected]
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