In the United States, the median dentist salary is reported to be about $150,000 per year or about $72 per hour. As with most professions, a dentist’s pay will vary depending on factors such as number of years of work experience, type of establishment, geographical location of establishment, hours of work per week etc. The highest 10th percentile of the profession earns a salary of about $210,000 or more per year which in terms of hours works out to about $100 or more per hour. The lowest 10th percentile earns about $122,000 or less per year which works out to about $58 or less per hour. The middle 50 percent of the workforce takes home about between $134,000 and $190,000 per year which is between $66 and $88 per hour.
Dentists receive some benefits on top of their basic salary. Benefits such as pensions, social security, 401K contributions, healthcare benefits, paid time off and bonuses can raise the total median compensation package for a dentist to about $205,000 per year.
The working week for most dentists is about 4 – 5 days per week. Majority work as solo practitioners. It is not uncommon for a dentist to work evenings and on weekends to accommodate their patients. 35 to 40 hour work weeks is a standard for most full-time dentists but it is also common to find a lot working more hours per week.
Job description of a dentist
So what do dentists do? A dentist is a doctor who is responsible for diagnosing and treating diseases, malformations and injuries of the teeth, gums and related structures such as jaws. There are specialists in dentistry such as orthodontist, endodontic, pediatric dentist and cosmetic dentist.
A typical day of a dentist may be filled with removing decay, filling of cavities, examining of x-rays, teeth straightening and fractured teeth repair. Those that are licensed to perform surgery may carry out surgical procedures to correct gums and surrounding structures to for the treatment of gum diseases. A dentist may also find themselves extracting teeth from patients and making models and dentures to replace missing teeth. Cosmetic dentists perform procedures to enhance the appearance of their client’s teeth and therefore improving their smiles. These procedures may include whitening of teeth or replacing crooked teeth with artificial ones.
A dentist’s tools include x-ray machines, mouth mirrors, forceps, drills, scalpels and probes. Dentists that have their own private practice may also find themselves doing administrative tasks.
How to become a dentist
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To become a dentist, you have to graduate from an accredited dental program. This involves getting accepted into dental school and successfully completing the program.
If you are currently in high school and thinking of becoming a dentist, you should take classes in related subjects such as chemistry, anatomy, biology, physic and mathematics. This gives you a foundation for college and dental school level coursework. It also enhances your chances of getting accepted into dental school.
To get into dental school, you need to have completed a bachelor’s degree. Not all dental schools have this requirement but with the competitive nature of dental school admissions, it will be extremely difficult to get into any dental school without a bachelor’s degree. Dental schools have some coursework requirements. During your undergraduate studies, make sure you take courses in biology, physics and chemistry. Majoring in science related fields might give you a better chance of getting accepted in dental school. It is however not a requirement for getting accepted. Dental schools admit students with bachelor’s degrees in many majors. In your junior year in college, you should write and pass the Dental Admission Test (DAT) which is the equivalent of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). It is a requirement to get accepted into medical school.
In dental school, you will study courses such as anatomy, local anesthesia and periodontology (which is the study of oral health and diseases). You will also acquire practical skills by working in a clinical setting, working directly on patients.
After you graduate dental school, you will be required to spend an extra 1 – 2 years in residency. You gain supervised training in a clinical setting in the specialization of your choice.
The next step is getting licensed. All states require dentists to be licensed. This involves dental degree from an accredited program and the passing of an exam.
Dentist salary in other countries
In Australia, the average salary of a dentist is reported to be about AU$80,000 per year. Older more experienced dentists averaged about AU$100,000 per year and beginners earned about $51,000 on average per year.
In Canada, The median salary is about CA$107,000 per annum. Dentists in Canada reported a salary of between CA$77,000 and CA$140,000 per year.
Dentists in the United Kingdom (UK), dentists working with the UK NHS primary care trust reported a salaries between £37,000 and £81,000 per year. Dentists working as consultants and are specialists reported salaries between £74,000 and £101,000 per year. In the UK dentists have some of the highest salaries in the healthcare profession.
Conclusion about dentist salary
A dentist salary is a very attractive one although it is not one of the highest salary. How much you earn at the end of the day will depend on number of years of experience, geographical location of your practice, hours of work and whether you have your own practice or work for someone else.