Dental assistants perform a wide variety of jobs around a dentist's office, including caring for patients, taking x-rays, keeping records and scheduling appointments. Some dental assistants also perform four regulated tasks -- coronal polishing, sealant application, fluoride application and topical anesthetics application. The day-to-day activities typically include:
Dental assistants in Tennessee earn a mean annual wage of $34,650, and there are 5,670 practicing assistants working in the state. That translates to about two dental assistants for every 1,000 workers in the state. The highest concentration of dental assistants in Tennessee is in Clarksville, where there are nearly 5 dental assistants for every 1,000 workers. The lowest concentration (1.5 dental assistants per 1,000 workers) is in Jackson and Memphis.
More than 30 percent of the state's dental assistants work in the Nashville metropolitan area, and 16 percent work in Memphis. The third-highest total of dental assistants is located in Chattanooga, where 500 dental assistants are employed. Here's a breakdown of the number of dental assistants in each of Tennessee's metropolitan areas, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2014:
The mean annual salary for dental assistants in Tennessee is about 5 percent lower than the national average of $36,240. The highest salaries in the state are paid in the Morristown metropolitan area, where the mean annual wage is $41,540, which translates to nearly $20 per hour.
Nationally, jobs for dental assistants are expected to grow 25 percent through 2022, as the strengthening link between oral health and overall health increases the demand for preventative care. Tennessee is expected see slightly lower growth during this period, however, with a 20.6 percent annual job growth for dental assistants -- about 230 new jobs in the state each year.
While the vast majority of dental assistants work in dentist offices earning average salaries, a few industries pay slightly higher salaries for dental assistants. These industries, and the average salaries they pay to dental assistants, include:
The following is a breakdown of the concentration of dental assistant jobs per 1,000 total jobs in each of Tennessee's metropolitan areas. The mean salary paid in that metropolitan area is also listed:
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Tennessee. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.
Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Dental Assistants relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 22.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org
Annual Median Salary