What are the costs and benefits of becoming a dentist?
Did you know that you can go to dental school for free?
While I was chatting with a pre-dent recently about his candidacy, I tried to bring up a discussion about the dental schools he should apply to. Seeming distracted, he brought up something else: “How much is dental school going to cost me, and how much will I get paid after I become a dentist? What about debt?”
He wasn’t very interested in what I wanted to talk about – the next step he needed to take to get into dental school – because he was preoccupied with the money he would have to spend just to get through the process.
I spoke with him about the costs and benefits of dental school, and we talked about how the benefits and drawbacks made him feel about the whole process. Below is a recap of the things we discussed.
Becoming a dentist: A cost/benefit analysis
Most pre-dents focus on the monetary costs and benefits of dental school: dental school tuition, debt from loans, and the salary that you are likely to receive as a dentist.
This makes plenty of sense, because if the costs of the goal far exceed the benefits, why even take the time to go through with it? That may be a logical conclusion, but only if ALL of the costs and benefits are weighed fairly. Monetary costs and benefits are only part of all of the costs and benefits of going to dental school.
One cost that pre-dents don’t always weigh: Time! Don’t forget to consider all the time it will take to become a dentist. Is becoming a dentist worth all those years of your life?
How about the benefits? Other than your future salary, there are benefits to becoming a dentist that will tip the cost/benefit scale towards the benefit side. Below is a more complete list of costs and benefits to consider.
The Benefits of Becoming a dentist
- Helping others heal: This is the ultimate source of personal satisfaction. Using your talents to help another person feel physically whole again is an immeasurable reward.
- High salary: Dentists earn approximately $100,000 per year and specialists earn approximately $250,000 per year. At that income level you can comfortably afford to support a family in a nice community, if you are financially responsible.
- Prestige: As a dentist, you’re going to leave a lasting impression on your family, friends, and the community. You will be known as an intelligent and benevolent person.
- Job security: Your skills will always be in demand and you will always be able to find a job.
The Costs of Becoming a dentist
- The time it takes to become a dentist: It takes the average student 5 years to earn an D.D.S. and complete residency. In those 5 years, you could be learning another skill or discipline.
- Tuition and living expenses: Dental school costs approximately $150,000 to $250,000. (Source: AAMC)
- Dental school debt: The average debt load for a dental school student after earning an M.D. is $160,000, and takes about 10 years to pay off.
- It’s a demanding career: Long hours (for some dentists) and stressful work. dentists who work more than 50 hours/week have much lower job satisfaction than dentists who work fewer hours.
Is dental School worth it?
It takes 5 years to become a dentist, and 10 years to pay off all of the debt. 86% of dentists graduate from dental school with debt. Although a dentist’s salary allows you to steadily pay back the debt, the debt is something that you’ll have to deal with for many years as a practicing dentist.
Is becoming a dentist worth it? Many dentists say yes, some say no, and ultimately it is up to you to decide. Does the pay, job security, and the satisfaction of helping others outweigh debt and a stressful job?
You can go to dental school for free…but how?
If debt is the biggest drawback for you, why not take debt out of the equation? You can go to dental school for free by earning any of 6 special scholarships that cover the costs of your entire dental education.
Learn the 6 ways to go to dental school for free in "How to go to dental School For Free"
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