Dentists aren’t going anywhere. According to the American Dentist Association, more than 200,000 dentists work in the United States.
However, this statistic doesn’t tell the full story about dentists. Thousands of Americans work as locum tenens dentists, pursuing jobs throughout the United States. Becoming a locum tenens dentist has a lot of benefits, including job flexibility and the opportunity to see different parts of the country.
But before becoming a dentist, you must consider the locum tenens dentist salary. How high your salary is depends on a few factors. Here’s how much locum tenens dentists make.
Annual Salaries for Dentists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a full-time professional dentist makes a median salary of $163,220 yearly. They can also make $78.47 per hour.
The median salary means half of America’s dentists earn less than that amount and half of the country’s dentists earn more. The lowest 10% of dentists earned less than $63,880, while the highest 10% earned more than $208,000. As you begin your career, you should expect to earn less than the median, and you will earn more the longer you stay in your job.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons and orthodontists are the highest-paid dentists, making at least $208,000 yearly. Government dentists make $182,330, while dentists with their own practices make $163,650.
Wages also vary depending on where people live. Delaware has the highest salary for dentists of any state, with dentists receiving an annual mean wage of $206,270. The Spokane metro area is the top-paying area for dentists, earning $290,860 annually.
Locum Tenens Dentists
Locum tenens dentists earn hourly wages, not annual salaries. But they can earn hourly wages 25% higher than the national average; this means a wage of nearly $100 an hour.
However, you should expect to earn less than $100 an hour as you start your career. Your hourly wage depends on where you work, how much dentistry experience you have, and how much an organization can afford to pay you. If you can work in an area like Delaware, you can earn more than dentists in other states.
Do you want to be a locum tenens dentist but don’t know how to start your career? Make an appointment with Daily Care Solutions, and we’ll help you find work.
Ways to Increase Your Salary
Locum tenens dentists are not solely at the whim of their employers. They can find ways to make extra money and increase their hourly wages. Here are a few good steps you can take.
Develop Dentistry Experience Early On
The more dentistry experience you have, the more lucrative opportunities you can pursue. Apply for any job in a dentistry office. Being a receptionist or a temporary dental assistant can help you gather industry knowledge and make connections.
You can also join a dentist’s office as a volunteer or intern in high school or college. Shadowing a dentist can help you gain hands-on experience and see what a dentist actually does.
Continue developing your experience and education while you are employed as a locum tenens dentist. You can take continuing education classes from dental schools, honing your skills and learning about recent health trends. Get certificates from these courses that you can show to your employers.
Get a Dentistry Degree
You must get a degree to apply for high-paying locum tenens jobs. The higher your degree is, the more money you can receive.
You must go to undergraduate school to get a dental degree. Most colleges do not have undergraduate dental programs, but you can major in pre-medicine or biology. You can work in a dental office while you’re in college, and some schools have semester-long classes in dental health.
After you get your bachelor’s degree, you can apply to dental school. Dental school takes four years; the first two years are dedicated to biology, while the last two are for direct patient care. You can then pursue a dental residency or postdoctoral program, learning a specialty and working directly with a dentist.
You can still work in the dental industry without a formal degree. Most offices need dental assistants, billers, and receptionists. An assistant prepares tools and spaces for dentists to work in, keeps electronic health records, and schedules appointments. Billers handle patients’ payment information and talk to insurance agencies.
Even if you don’t have a degree, you still need job experience. Offices prefer billers who have experience with medical coding and insurance practices. Consider working for an insurance agency before applying for a biller position. If you can’t find work as a dentist, find another position, like a hospitalist, to develop medical experience.
Related: What Exactly Is a Locum Hospitalist?
Pick a Specialty
Dentists with specialties like oral and maxillofacial surgery earn more than professionals without specialties. While in dental school, explore a few specialties and find a dentistry specialty that fits your skills and experience. Becoming a surgeon or an orthodontist may be a good fit if you're a hands-on person. If you like working with children, you can become a pediatric dentist.
You should commit to your specialty once you’ve picked one. Switching specialties in the middle of your career can make it hard to develop a career path.
Are you a dentist with a specialty and want to get a high-paying locum tenens dentist salary? Join the team of healthcare providers at Daily Care Solutions today.
Find Medium-Term Positions
Locum tenens positions that last a few months tend to pay more than shorter positions. They also provide more stability, as you won’t need to move around as much. You can find a more affordable home or apartment and develop your reputation in the area you are working in.
Per diem jobs are at-will contract positions. You will not have guaranteed hours, and you must do whatever your employer needs you to do. You can take per diem positions to earn extra money or fill in gaps in your schedule, but you should opt for locum tenens jobs, as they offer more stability.
If you do well in your position, your employer may offer you a job as a full-time dentist. You may be able to make more money, though you will have less flexibility and fewer opportunities to earn a competitive wage. Think things through and consider whether transitioning to a full-time position would work.