Enjoy a Lucrative Career and Make a Difference Helping Others

If you are passionate about the field of dental medicine, serving others and helping them get healthy, a career as an orthodontist could be fulfilling and exciting. Orthodontists are dentists who help correct problems with dental alignment, bite and facial development. Several years of schooling will reward you with a meaningful career and a sizable salary to help provide a financial future for your children.

Job Description

Orthodontists meet with patients to assess dental health, take medical histories and determine the best course of treatment to correct tooth alignment and bite issues. Diagnostic tests like X-rays and dental impressions help you design custom treatment plans for each patient. You will educate patients on the care of their braces, retainers, spacers, block appliances and other devices. Sometimes, you'll administer numbing medication for orthodontic procedures or prescribe medications for aftercare. Orthodontics frequently work with other dentists, dental hygienists, and other professionals on teams that serve patients.

Education Requirements

Dentists must complete a bachelor's degree, including certain courses in the sciences, and then complete four years of dental school, followed by a state licensing exam. To become an orthodontist, you must also complete a two- to three-year residency in orthodontics and take a clinical and written exam to obtain certification from the American Board of Orthodontics. Expect your entire education to last 10 to 12 years from start to finish.

The median salary for all dentists is an impressive $208,000 per year, which means that half earn more than this, while the other half earns less. Those in the bottom 10 percent could earn less than $91,580, but the prospects of earning more than $208,000 per year are also good, with places like Alabama offering a median salary of $287,250.

About the Industry

Orthodontists work in dental health offices, either alone or as part of a larger practice. Some practices are made up of multiple orthodontists, while others comprise a mixture of general dentists and specialists. Dental offices might be located in large medical complexes, in smaller business parks, or in stand-alone buildings. Orthodontists generally keep regular business hours, and many enjoy full benefits.

Years of Experience

Expect your income as an orthodontist to vary with years of experience, geographic place of practice and employer. While income projections for the field are sparse, they all indicate a lucrative career. One projection guesses that as an entry-level orthodontist you can expect to make $70,878 to $228,609 annually, with the median starting salary around $154,331. With a national median salary of $208,000 per year, it's clear that this is a financially rewarding career. Consider starting your practice in a lucrative state like North Carolina, Alabama, Texas or Colorado to increase your starting salary and earning potential.

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for all dentists, including orthodontists, is expected to increase by 17 percent in the next decade, which is much faster than in other industries. With a growing population and access to dental services, orthodontists can expect to have plenty of opportunity to establish a rewarding practice and client base.

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