It is a fact of life that most of us are continually curious about what other jobs pay. We have a general vision in our head of what a doctor probably makes, or even a lawyer. But dentists are harder to pin down. Surely they are getting paid well, but how well? Would it be worth changing careers?
Becoming a dentist requires a great deal of education and training and going into the field has to be considered a major decision. As with any major decision, you’re entitled to know the facts before you make up your mind. But whether you’re thinking of becoming one or are simply curious, here are the facts as it pertains to the dental salary.
As you might expect, there is little way to quantify exactly what all dentists make. Depending on what field they go into, whether they work for themselves or a general clinic, and how long they’ve been in business, the salary range could be extraordinary. Speaking in generalities, however, one can understand some averages. One such average is that the starting salary for those straight out of dental school is around $60,000.
Where the practice is located (a small, rural town compared to a major metropolitan area, the coast compared to the midwest, etc.) will have no small effect on this number. From there, the salaries have a tendency to spike dramatically. The average dentist in the U.S., taking into consideration all ranges of experience, makes around $120,000 a year. According to the American Dental Association, those who specialize (such as an orthodontist) make a median salary of over $300,000.
It may come as no surprise that cosmetic dentists tend to have the biggest earning power. The same is true in the world of medicine, with plastic surgeons often out-earning their peers. The reasons for this are varied, but it usually comes down to a couple of factors. One, their clientele tends to be more well off and thus more willing to pay for expensive procedures. Two, their patients usually have to pay for the procedures outright, so they don’t have to worry about insurance whittling away at their profit margins. In places such as Los Angeles and New York City, the best in the business can make as much as $500,000 a year.
It should be remembered that those dentists who choose to work for the public good, such as for a public free clinic or for another welfare-based part of the profession, will often see salaries quite a bit below the average.