Preparing for a career in dentistry means more than just finishing dental school; it also requires deciding where to work — whether a corporate or private practice setting — and understanding how that can affect a dentist’s salary and compensation.
In a recent survey, DentalPost evaluated dentists’ pay and compensation based on the type of practice they work for. We highlight a few of the key differences below to help narrow down the search for your next workplace.
Corporate dentist offices are owned and managed by a dental support organization. These DSOs, which are currently experiencing rapid growth, maintain operational support, while the practices maintain clinical control.
Private practices are owned, managed and operated by individuals or families. These practices may provide more freedom in services offered but often have more inherent risk because of the lack of support from a large corporation.
Dentists in corporate practices experience significant fluctuation in their pay, while the average dentist salary at private practices rises consistently over time.
Corporate dentists see their peak income during 5 to 14 years of experience, at just under $300,000. Average pay at corporate practices decreases significantly with more than 15 years of experience.
Conversely, private practice dentists are more likely to see steady growth in their earnings as they become more experienced. These professionals earn an average of just under $220,000 with under 5 years of experience, growing to almost $300,000 with 25 or more years of experience.
Because of these differing income trends, corporate dentists earn an average of $56,000 less each year than private practice dentists over the course of their careers.
Across all dental practices and experience levels, owners and partners average $100,000 more in annual income than associates.
More than half of private practice dentists reported receiving an annual salary, while over 60% of corporate dentists were paid based on a percentage of production.
When broken down into pay of owners and pay of associates, the majority of corporate owners and associates are paid based on percentage of performance — 64% and 67%, respectively.
A majority of private practice dental associates are paid based on percentage of production (70%), but most owners (56%) are paid an annual salary.
Fewer than 9% of all dentists are paid hourly or daily, and one third of these work in public and community health clinics.
77% of dentists reported that benefits were an important part of the total compensation.
60% of corporate offices offer retirement plans, and 60% offer health insurance.
50% of private practices offer retirement plans, and only 40% offer health insurance.
A greater percentage of employee dentists in corporate practices receive retirement and health benefits than associate dentists in private practice. Corporate employees are twice as likely to receive these benefits.
After retirement and health insurance, private practice and corporate dentists commonly receive paid vacation days and paid attendance to dental conferences. Private practice dentists are more likely to receive CE course reimbursement, while those at corporate practices are more likely to receive low cost dentistry for one’s self and family.
When it comes time to take the next step in your career, know that there is not a “one size fits all” approach. Use your preferences for pay and benefits to narrow your search and guide your decision. Individual private and corporate practices may have dentist salary and compensation that is different than the data collected in this survey, so be sure to explore your options.
Whatever decision you make will be the right decision for you!
Learn more about how Panacea Financial could help you with other financial decisions like refinancing dental school loans, obtaining personal loans, or providing practice financing for dentists.
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