What could you earn as a newly qualified dentist?

Every graduate wants to get a great job, dentists are no different, and with a potential £46K worth of tuition student debt, starting salaries are no doubt a significant consideration.

As all dentists are aware, education doesn’t finish after five years hard graft at university—all newly qualified dentists are required to undertake a certain amount of postgraduate training and all dentists registered with the General Medical Council are required to do CPD (continuing professional development). Newly qualified dentists who want to work within the NHS must do one year of dental foundation training. The 2016/17 salary for the foundation year is £31K. On completion of the foundation year, you can choose to work as a general dental practitioner or enter dental core training—the training period between foundation and speciality training. The basic salary for dental core training in the NHS is between £36K and £45K and includes other financial benefits such as paid overtime.

Most dentists are self-employed contractors in general practice, combining NHS with private work earning between £50K to £110K. However, there are other possibilities and your income depends on what path you choose to go down:

  • An experienced solely private dentist can earn above £140K. Salary will be considerably higher for highly skilled clinicians who provide: implants, orthodontics and high value dentistry treatments such as Invisalign and facial aesthetics.
  • An NHS dentist can earn from £38K up to £110K depending on what sector you work in, this could be:
  • A dentist working for a big corporation will not earn quite as much as a private dentist, however some corporate dental positions will offer a part time career with a high net-income.
  • It is possible to spend your foundation year training within a paid military commission and continue your career in the Armed Forces. The starting salary for a dental officer in the Royal Navy is £41K, and as a Dental Officer in the Army, on completion of training at Sandhurst, the starting salary is £60K.

There are a number of different career pathways and each has its own merits. Some have a greater potential for funding, whereas others are more vocational but allow for part-time study. You could become an associate dentist (average annual salary of £60K) and then promote to a partner or practice owner, or you could specialise. Becoming a specialist dentist can be well worth the additional training—as a specialist dentist you can work privately, for the NHS or both. A specialist working for the NHS will earn between £76K and £120K depending on seniority, and a specialist working privately will earn £140K plus. For example:

There are a number of different pathways to consider following university. Dental healthcare is constantly evolving and there will always be a demand for cosmetic services, and public dental health workers. There is a vast range of earnings in dentistry; the main variables are whether you decide to work for the NHS, privately or both, and whether you work to become a partner or practice owner, or become a highly skilled clinician providing the likes of implants, orthodontics or other high value dentistry treatments.

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