The median salary for the pediatric dentist is $137,970. However, there is much variation in salaries among individuals. The lowest 10% of this group earns $46,600 and the top 10% earn more than $167,000 annually.
Various salary surveys showed opening salaries of $300,000. So there is tremendous range and variability among this field.
Some of the variability is due to location. Like most jobs, the more metro an area and the higher the cost of living, the higher the salary. But then one must factor in how much the salary is offset by the higher cost of living.
What About Job Security?
By age 17, 80% of children and adolescents have tooth decay. Fifty percent have it by the third grade. So the pediatric dentist has a wide pool of patients.
When you also factor in the preventative push in dental health today, the pediatric dentist’s job just became even more important. So the job security and earning potential of the pediatric dentist is good. However, the economy can have an impact on this field.
When more people are unemployed, they are also uninsured. This means trips to the dentist—even for their children—become a luxury that many cannot afford. This impacts the earning potential of the pediatric dentist as well.
The Cost of Becoming a Pediatric Dentist
Another consideration is the cost of becoming a pediatric dentist.
The costs include:
- Undergraduate education
- Dental school
- Residency for pediatric dentistry
One institution listed the costs for year one at just under $85,000 a year. Other schools fully fund their pediatric dentist fellows, but spaces are quite limited so only the top candidates earn those slots.
Setting Up Shop
If the pediatric dentist opts to open his own office after graduation and board exams, then he will have to take a loan to finance his new endeavor.
Although those in private practice who own—or co-own—their practice do earn substantially more, they incur considerable debt to do so. The costs associated with a new practice are extensive.
Equipment is quite costly as are materials. Many new to the field are opting to buy-out a professional who is retiring. Others come in under a pediatric dentist close to retirement in order to ‘take over’ the practice and buy him out. However, in the latter situation some compensation for the patient list is also included in your costs.
Working for Someone Else
Other pediatric dentists work for companies, who provide numerous benefits like retirement plans and vacation time. But they do tend to make lower salaries.
Also, they give up their autonomy and sometimes begin to feel as though they are part of a factory, sometimes seeing 40 children a day. The stress and pressures of owning your own practice can be overwhelming, but many take the leap in order to preserve their own integrity and peace of mind, as well as to preserve patient care and quality of service.
High Risk, High Reward
The pediatric dentist invests a large chunk of his life in education preparing for his career. During this time, he usually cannot work to support himself. Even if he gets a fellowship and a stipend, it is not much money.
Thus, his commitment to his purpose is substantial. The salary of the pediatric dentist is high, but so are his costs and time commitment.
Becoming a pediatric dentist is not an easy task. But once achieved the rewards can be wonderful. Are you up for the challenge?