Thinking of Becoming a Dentist?

Q: How long does it take to complete the education requirements to become a dentist?

A: Most dental programs are designed to take four years of study to complete, and at the end of the four years, most dentists are what is called "a general practitioner." To become a "specialist" in a particular area of dentistry, dentists must complete 2-4 years of education beyond obtaining their medical degree, and buy dental tools they might be required to complete an additional 2-year residency program in their specialty.

Q: How much does it cost to attend/complete dental school, and how much money might I earn if I become a dentist?

A: The cost of four years of dental school education, as of 2010, was about $150,000 for students attending public universities. This figure includes all expenses: from books and supplies to living expenses. The cost of attending a private school to become a dentist can be anywhere between $300,000-$350,000.

When it comes to what a dentist earns, as of May 2010, the median average income of dentists was: $146,920. The term "median wage" represents the "middle" range. That means half of those practicing dentistry earned more than the amount stated above, and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent of dentists earned less than $71,210, and the top 10 percent earned $166,400 or more. Earnings are influenced by variables such as number of years in practice, work location, hours worked, and area of specialization. For example, the median annual wages of dentist occupations in May 2010 were the following:

Equal to or greater than $166,400 for oral and maxillofacial surgeons

Equal to or greater than $166,400 for orthodontists

$161,020 for dentists, all other specialists

$141,040 for general dentists

$118,400 for prosthodontists