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Who makes more: a dentist or a doctor?

Dentists and doctors may both work in the healthcare industry, but their journeys to becoming professionals and their subsequent careers are diverse. While both have to spend many years studying at college and completing in-practice training before they qualify, the responsibilities and rewards are vastly different.

If you’re at a crossroad and stuck between becoming a dentist or a doctor, the following information might help you make a decision. Below you’ll find the salary details and job prospects of the best healthcare jobs in the US so you can make a side-by-side comparison.

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General Dentist Salary

It takes 6-8 years to become a dentist, after which you’ll be responsible for general check-ups, filling cavities and extracting teeth, amongst other general dentistry tasks. Dental hygienists and assistants will take care of the basic jobs, while you’ll be tasked with the more complex procedures.

A general dentist in the US makes $151,850 per year. That’s $12,654 per month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7.6% employment growth between 2018 and 2028 for dentists, meaning around 10,400 jobs should open up during that time.

Associate Dentist Salary

An associate dentist is similar to a general dentist, but they don’t own a practice. Instead, they work in a dental practice as an employee or independent contractor. Regardless of how they’re legally classified, an associate dentist usually carries out the same tasks as a general dentist.

How much an associate dentist makes largely depends on whether they’re an employee or independent contractor and if commission is involved. Some sources cite an associate dentist salary as high as $217,596, while others estimate that the average associate dentist salary is as low as $122,490.

While there are too many factors to set an average associate dentist salary, it’s fair to say an associate dentist earns about the same, if maybe a little less, than a general dentist.

Orthodontist Salary

Becoming a specialist dentist takes more time and money than it takes to become a general dentist. Because of this, specialist dentists, such as orthodontists, make more. Orthodontists examine patients’ mouths and remedy problems caused by improper bites and askew teeth.

The median salary of an orthodontist in the US is $208,000. That’s $17,333 per month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, orthodontists can expect a 7.3% employment growth between 2018 and 2028, meaning an estimated 500 should open up.

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Dental Hygienist Salary

Dentists are supported by dental hygienists. These dental professionals teach patients how to take care of their oral health, carry out preventative treatments and administer teeth cleanings, amongst many other tasks.

The median wage for a dental hygienist in the US is $74,820 per year. That’s $6,235 per month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RDHs can expect an employment growth of 10.8% between 2018 and 2028, resulting in the creation of 23,700 jobs.

Dental Assistant Salary

Both dentists and dental hygienists are supported by dental assistants. RDAs prepare the dental practice with the tools necessary for the following treatment, carry out teeth cleanings and sterilize instruments after procedures.

US News cites the median wage for a dental assistant at $38,660. That’s $3,221 per month. Following the predictions of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RDAs can expect an employment growth of 11.2% between 2018 and 2020, meaning a creation of 38,700 positions.

Doctor Salary

There are two main types of doctor, also known as a physician. Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Osteopathy. Both these terms cover many different types of healthcare workers, from obstetricians, gynecologists and ER doctors to dermatologists, neurologists and cardiologists. 

The median salary for a doctor/physician in the US is $194,500. That’s $16,208 per month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 3.7% employment growth for doctors between 2018 and 2028, meaning around 1,600 jobs should open up during that time.

Physician Assistant Salary

A physician assistant is similar to a doctor, but with more restrictions. They help diagnose illnesses, assist in surgeries, perform procedures, and develop and carry out treatment plans. The main difference is that most states require physician assistants to work alongside a licensed physician or surgeon.

In the US, the median salary for a physician assistant is $108,610 per year. That’s $9,050 per month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 31.1% employment growth for physician assistants between 2018 and 2028, meaning around 37,000 jobs should open up during this time.

Registered Nurse Salary

A registered nurse spends time monitoring patients’ conditions, charting patients’ progress and administering medicine. They work with everyone from healthy patients who want to stay that way to patients nearing the end of their lives who need to be taken care of.

The median salary for a registered nurse in the US is $71,730. That’s $5,977 per month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 12.1% employment growth rate between 2018 and 2028 for registered nurses. This translates into 371,500 new positions opening up during that time.

Nurse Practitioner Salary

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with more education, which also means more money. The additional time spent studying means a nurse practitioner is qualified to take patient histories, order lab tests, analyze the results and perform physical exams.

A nurse practitioner in the US makes $107,030 per year. That’s $8,919 per month.The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 28.2% employment growth for nurse practitioners between 2018 and 2028, meaning 53,300 jobs should open up during that time.

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Choose Dentistry for a Happy Balance

According to US News, being a dentist is the best job in healthcare, outranking physician assistants, nurse practitioners and doctors. So although a doctor might earn a small amount more than a dentist, the fantastic employment growth prospects and flexibility dentists benefit from mean they generally have higher job satisfaction rates.

You don’t have to choose between high wages and job satisfaction. There is a solution which embodies both. Choose to be an orthodontist and you’ll earn more money than a doctor while enjoying lower stress levels and increased flexibility.

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