Orthodontists are very respected members of the dental community. Considered specialists, many people wonder what their salaries are.
The average orthodontist makes more than $165,000 a year. The top 10% of orthodontists make $300,000 annually. The lowest 10% earn more than $100,000 a year.
The orthodontist must get a bachelors degree, graduate from four years of dental school, and then complete a two to three year residency program. The educational costs incurred by the orthodontist are considerable.
How Much Are Student Loans?
According to a survey conducted by Benson, Clark & Cobble, the average orthodontist will graduate with a student loan balance falling somewhere between $100,000 to $400,000.
That’s a big range, but you have to consider the variables on the total cost. The better the reputation of the school attended, the higher the tuition, which means the higher the loan.
Whether the candidate attended public or private schools will impact the bottom line. Additionally, the cost of living in the city of the schools where the candidate attended will also impact the total cost borrowed.
Once the orthodontist graduates, he has a choice between opening his own practice and working for either an existing practice or a corporation of some kind. While the average salaries of dental health specialists who own their own practices—or are co-owners in their practice—are higher, so are their costs.
Many orthodontists—and dentists, for that matter—have student loan payments as well as practice payments. The latter refers to the loan they took out to secure all of the equipment, start-up materials, salaries for office staff, facilities, and the hundreds of other expenses required to start-up your own business.
Some even have the trifecta: student loan payments, practice payments, and a mortgage.
As you can imagine: the stress is unreal when an individual is in that kind of debt.
Many things factor into whether the individual orthodontist makes close to, well below, or well above the national average for orthodontist salary. The orthodontist’s credentials, level of experience, and location will play a large role.
Factors That Will Determine Your Orthodontist Salary
The higher the cost of living an area has, the higher the salary of the orthodontist. However, that is a double edge sword. The higher the cost of living, the lower the amount of the orthodontist’s salary which can be applied to student loan debt—or practice debt.
The orthodontist cannot work without the orthodontist assistant. If he owns his own practice, he must pay the salary of the orthodontist assistant. Although the individual assistant’s salary is dependent upon many factors as well, the average salary for the orthodontist assistant is $41,000 a year. That is just one of the many expenses that an orthodontist with his own practice must finance to keep his doors open.
Newly graduated orthodontists earn an average of roughly $72,000 a year. But after five years of experience, his salary will climb on average $30,000 annually.
Working for someone else alleviates the stress of loans to open and maintain a practice. Plus, there are also perks and benefits which come along with the job. However, the salary may well be lower for the orthodontist as well. Many feel the trade-offs—less stress and responsibility as well as lower financial risk—make the lower salary well worth it.