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In May 2021, dentists made a median salary of $163,220.2 The highest-paid 10% earned at least $208,000 in the same year, while the lowest-paid 10% earned $63,880.2
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 6% employment growth for dentists between 2021 and 2031.3 Within these next 10 years, it is projected that approximately 5,100 jobs for dentists will open up.3
Becoming a dentist requires 8 years of schooling—4 years for a bachelor’s degree and 4 years to earn a DMD or DDS in a top dental school. The road to a career as a dentist doesn’t come cheap.
Among all career options, ‘dentist’ occupies the 47th spot in the “100 Best Jobs” by the 2022 U.S. News & World Report.1 Two dental specialties (orthodontist and oral and maxillofacial surgeon) ranked in the top 55.1
The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes several specialties within the dental profession.4 These dental specialties require different amounts of training and education, which can lead to salary differences.
The highest-paying dental specialty is oral and maxillofacial surgery. Their average annual salary is $311,460. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained in dental care and surgery, contributing to their high average salary.
The top 10 highest paid dental specialties recognized by the ADA and their respective average annual salaries:4,5,6,7,8,9,10
|Dental Specialty||Average Annual Salary (May 2021)|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery||$311,460|
|Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics||$267,280|
|Public Health Dentistry||$179,400|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology||$179,400|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology||$179,400|
Beyond dentists, there are several positions to pursue in the dental industry. While some jobs require years of extensive education and training, others do not.
Other hands-on patient care positions in the dental industry include:
Related dental careers that don’t involve direct patient care include such as:
Here are some dental-related jobs and their respective average annual salaries:11,12,13,14,15
|Job||Average Annual Salary (May 2021)|
|Dental Laboratory Technician||$47,320|
|Dental Sales Rep||$62,890|
Multiple factors affect dentist salaries. Experience, industry, specialization, education, and employer all play a role in determining how much a dentist makes.
Additionally, location is very important. Dentist salaries differ depending on the city or state.
Here are the top 10 best-paying cities for dentists, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:10
|City||Average Annual Dentist Salary (May 2021)|
|Manchester, New Hampshire||$276,510|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California||$221,210|
|Portsmouth, New Hampshire-Maine||$220,070|
|New Haven, Connecticut||$227,390|
Below is a table with the average annual dentist salary in every state:10
|State||Average Annual Dentist Salary (May 2021)|
|New Jersey||$177,570 (2020)|
How much a dentist earns partly depends on the employer. All employers are legally required to follow federal, state, and local wage rates. However, some pay higher than others.
The following are popular dentist employers with the average annual salary they pay their employees:16
|Employer||Average Annual Dentist Salary|
|Dental Group Ltd||$110,000|
|Indian Health Services||$135,000|
|Methodist Healthcare Ministries||$159,119|
|Morris Health Center||$123,158|
|The Veterans Administration (US)||$174,807|
The average dentist salary of self-employed dentists is higher. Self-Employed dentists have an average annual salary of $239,447. This is noticeably higher compared to dentists working with an exclusive employer.16
A dentist's salary will vary based on different factors. Sometimes, a dentist may earn more than the average annual salary.
Certain specialties will have higher annual salaries than others. There are also related jobs within the dental industry that don't involve direct patient care, and they have varying salaries.
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