The path to a career in dentistry is long and challenging. In addition to a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree, applicants must enroll in dental school which can take another four years to complete. If students want to specialize in orthodontics or other specialty fields, they must complete additional specialist training.
The final cost of a dental education can easily exceed $100,000. This tough barrier of entry into dentistry has created a shortage of dentist leading to increasing cost of dental care. The high demand means most dentists are able to easily recover their cost of education within a few years of working due to their high salaries. The median yearly salary for a dentist is around $137,000 according to the US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is also possible to start one’s own dentist practice which is a choice many prefer over having a boss. The dental field has a high job security due to being difficult to outsource and recession proof. On-call duties for a dentist are typically less than what is expected of a physician.
Most students rely on grants or loans to cover the cost of dental school. Grants are a much better option if one can find them since they do not have to be paid back unlike loans. Grants can be given as a traditional scholarship or as a research fellowship. Your dental school’s financial aid office is a great place to start looking for grants. They may have information about local grants which are less competitive than national grants. Minorities and women may find that they qualify for grants only open to them which lead to a higher chance of success. Find more about dental school scholarships here. Dental loan forgiveness is also an option to consider. Many programs will allow you to forgive a portion of your education loan by meeting certain criteria such as working in underserved areas. Read more about dental school loan forgiveness here.