Careers in the dental field include such options as general practitioner dentists, orthodontists, periodontists, hygienists and dental assistants. Each of these fields has its own degree requirements, ranging from certificates for dental assistants to doctoral degrees and state licensure for dentists and dental specialists.
In addition to general dentistry, students interested in the dental field can pursue careers in dental specializations, such as orthodontia, oral surgery or periodontics. Aspiring dentists must earn a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from a school accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation. Dental school graduates need to take state examinations required by all states to obtain licensure. Those interested in specializing their career could choose to focus on a concentration, such as periodontics, radiology or reconstructive surgery, in a master's or doctoral degree program.
Other dental career options include support positions, like assistants and hygienists. Some positions have negligible academic requirements. However, certificate and degree programs in dental assisting and dental hygiene are available through many vocational schools, community colleges and universities. Like dentists, dental assistants and hygienists usually require state licensure to practice.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for dentists could increase 16% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). In addition, as more dentists employ support staff, such as assistants and hygienists, expected job growth for these professionals might be as high as 36%. In May 2010, the BLS reported that dental assistants made an average salary of $34,140, and dental hygienists averaged $68,680. The average salaries for dentists fluctuated based on specialization, with general dentists earning $158,770, orthodontists taking home $200,290 and oral and maxillofacial surgeons averaging $214,120.
Learn More About Dentistry
The type of education you need to enter the field of dentistry varies based on your career goals. Education-Portal.com offers several resources to help you choose an academic and career path.
If you'd like to become a dentist or oral surgeon, you'll need to complete an undergraduate pre-dentistry program or specific prerequisites before pursuing your DMD or DDS degree. A certificate, associate degree or bachelor's degree is sufficient for a position as a dental assistant or dental hygienist.
- Dental Assistant Training Programs
- Dental Hygienist Degree Programs
- Pre-Dental Program
- Dentistry Degrees
- Dentistry Education Requirements
The field of dentistry encompasses a range of career options, all that include providing dental services. The following list outlines the duties and career information for some of your more common dental positions.
You can provide general dentistry services with a degree and licensure. However, here is a list of some of the dental specialization options you can choose.
Distance Learning Options
Online learning is available for dental assistants and hygienists, though some on-campus or on-site work is usually required. Master's and doctoral programs are not offered online.
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