The Dentist Guide

The Leading Career Resource for Dentist Jobs.

The Dentist’s Job Guide

The team at DentalPost has compiled many resources for aspiring and current dentists to learn more about opportunities in dentistry.  This guide is designed to help provide information about certifications, specializations, hiring, and how to be hired.  In addition, we’ll take a detailed look at the salaries that dentists command around the country and in your state or province. And, as always, on DentalPost, you’ll be able to see what dentist job openings are available.  

Dentist Knowledge Center


Learn about the training and education, certification, and job description of a Dentist.

Dental Specialties

DentalPost takes a look at what specialties a Dentist can pursue.


Learn about a Dentist’s expected salary and career outlook.

Guide to Hiring

Are you looking to hire a Dentist? Here are a few tips from our trusted experts.

Job Search

Ready to begin your Dentist job search? No other site offers as many opportunities as DentalPost.


DentalPost explores the benefits, career prospects, and things to consider when choosing a Dental school.

Search For Dentist Jobs by State

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In Canada? Click on your province to find Dentist Jobs Near You.

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Everything You Need To Know About Becoming A Dentist

If you are fascinated by the anatomy of the human mouth and are inspired to help people with their oral health, then a career in dental care may be your calling. However, you may be wondering about the process of finding a dental job. This guide will help walk you through the steps of becoming a Dentist, featuring everything from high school to dental school and highlighting potential job opportunities.

Who Should Become a Dentist?

If you are very interested in anatomy and owning a private practice, dentistry may be for you. There are several different specialties when it comes to dentistry, so these might interest you as well.

Those who may excel as a general Dentist may have a passionate drive to help others and a strong interest in oral health. Oral health has a wide range of job opportunities, so it helps to explore these options first. As long as you get the required education and licensure, almost anyone can reach their dental dreams of becoming a General Dentist.

High School

While you may think it may be too early to begin thinking about your career as a General Dentist in high school, the reality is that it is never too early. Many individuals may feel pressured to hone in on their ideal career while in high school. However, the more helpful approach is to let yourself gravitate towards your interests. In general, knowing what classes to take and doing well at them in high school can help provide you with a foundation for your future education in General Dentistry.

To land a full-time Associate Dentist job, you will need to focus on taking math and science courses. It is generally recommended you take as many as you can. However, your selection may be limited to whatever is offered at your school. Suitable classes to take include geometry, trigonometry, chemistry, biology, forensic science, and anatomy.

If available, you may want to take the advanced version of your courses. These are typically referred to as Advanced Placement or AP courses. These college preparatory courses give dual credit with passing an exam and receiving an acceptable grade for the college you attend.

Speak with Local Dentists

There is no better way to learn about dental services than by interviewing a local Dentist. When you are a student, you will likely be inside a dental office at least a few times, so you will have contact with a dental professional that is local to you.

Dental professionals are a great resource to ask questions and learn more about dentistry. You may express your interest to your dental health professional while you are at your appointment. However, you can also see if you can call or email them to give you a unique insight into what path they chose and why.

It is always a good idea to speak to more than one dental professional. See if you can reach out to another Dentist in your area to get their unique perspective, which can help you get a sense of what a dental office is like and how your Dentist interacts with their patients and their coworkers.

Shadow a Dentist

You may be interested in dentistry but want to see someone out in the field before deciding what to pursue in college. Job shadowing is an excellent option for those who want to observe someone else in the field. Typically, you will watch the general Dentist perform their daily duties and follow them throughout the day. While most job shadowings only last a day, you may be invited back for another.

Some of the things you may observe the Dentist do during the day include greeting and consulting with their patients, filling cavities, and performing exams. The best time to shadow a Dentist is during the summer months because you have plenty of time and don’t have to worry about conflicting schedules.

This experience allows you to connect with a Dentist, but it also allows you to communicate with everyone in the environment, including the office staff. You can also speak directly with a Hygienist and Associate Dentist. You can ask questions about their job, what it is like to work there, and why they chose that profession, which could help you to land a professional internship down the road or a part-time job.

How Do I Find Job Shadowing Opportunities?

If you are interested in job shadowing, there are a few different ways to go about it. The first way that you can find shadowing opportunities is to check in with your school. Go to the administrative office or your school counselor to ask who you can contact for job shadowing opportunities connected with the school. You may find volunteer or part-time opportunities.

You can also reach out directly to the dental offices that you are interested in shadowing. You will want to contact someone from the office by either calling or emailing them, which may require contacting more than one dental practice.

Have an Impressive College Application

The goal is to always get into a college that offers a great dental program. However, no particular college is better than the next, but you will want to get into the college of your choosing. For that reason, you will want to make sure that you have a great application sent to the schools of your choice.

The most important aspects of your college education include your overall GPA, ACT scores, and letters of recommendation. Some college applications also require writing a personal statement or letter that expresses your interest in that particular school. Always give yourself plenty of time before the deadline to complete your applications.

Apply to Multiple Schools

It is always a good idea to have a backup plan. If you do not get accepted to your first choice for college, you will want to have other options. For this reason, you must apply to multiple schools. You may also learn some schools may be willing to offer you more of a scholarship or more grants than other schools, which may sway your decision on which school you choose.

The most significant piece of advice when applying to different colleges is not to panic. Many students begin to worry they will not receive any acceptance letters. That is not true, and there are always options for students to continue pursuing their dreams, especially when they apply to multiple schools.


Graduating from high school is an exciting time and means it is time to take the next step in your educational journey if you want to pursue a career as a Dentist. In general, the college of your choice does not matter, as long as you are taking the necessary coursework.

Your coursework will have a heavy focus on science and health. These courses may include chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Most college students pursuing a career in dentistry often decide on a science-based major, such as biology or chemistry.

Your goal in college should be to complete your classes and take the necessary steps towards dental school: taking general prerequisites, which includes reaching a certain number of hours for specific courses. There are typically advisors at your college that can assist you in making sure you are on the right path towards dental school.

Join the American Student Dental Association 

The American Student Dental Association offers resources, advice, and publications to those interested in going to dental school. This association is available to college and high school students. There is a fee for joining ASDA.

When you join the community of dental associates, you will have access to professionals and mentors that can help you grow your network. You will also be able to access different resources and scholarship opportunities. The fee for joining is $71 for students who are in high school or college.

Gain Real-Life Experience

It is vital to garner some real-life experience before or while in school when going into dentistry. There are many different types of job opportunities surrounding dentistry. This experience will prove very helpful to you, especially if you did not have a chance to shadow a professional. These might include a full-time position, which may or may not be in a dental center or general practice with an associate general Dentist. You can also pursue volunteer work.

In general, you will want to gain real-life experience from either a Dentist’s office or a healthcare facility. When you land a job, make sure that you take it seriously, as this can help you learn immensely about the dental field. If you are the right candidate, you will learn everything from communicating with patients to infection control protocols. These types of opportunities can also provide you with a way to expand your network and make professional connections.

Take the DAT

The DAT is the dental education admission test. This test is provided to students to assess their likelihood of success. The test is available all year round at various testing centers.

The test contains multiple-choice questions in four different areas. These other areas you will be tested on are the Survey of the Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning. You will receive a score of 1 to 30. The closer to 30 you get, the better you did on your test.

Start preparing for the DAT when you are in your junior year of college and then take the DAT in the spring of your junior year. However, it is never too early to begin preparing for the test. You will want to make sure you read thoroughly through the DAT guide when you are getting your materials ready to apply for the test. 

Apply to Dental School

It is important to spend ample time when you are in the preparation process for applying to dental school. Just like when you were applying to colleges, you will want to apply to multiple dental schools. What schools you apply to will depend on what you are interested in and your personal preferences.

Admission into dental schools is competitive, so you will want to put together an impressive application. Take the time to look over your application and also get opinions on your application. Your application should contain your college GPA, your DAT score, letters of recommendation, interviews, and experience.

When compiling your letters of recommendation, you will want to ensure that you have reached out to your professors. Professors are often approached for letters of recommendation, so a good majority will be very willing to write one up for you. You will also want to reach out to professionals that you have worked with in the field to request a letter of recommendation.

A vast majority of dental schools will require an interview. The interview will be similar to a job interview, and a representative from the school will ask you various questions. Your answers to these questions will help the school determine your confidence, how you handle challenges, and how well you work with others.

During the interview, you can also ask any questions or concerns you may have about the school. It is important to remember that you will have a better experience if you enjoy the school you go to and meet your personal preferences. So, do not be afraid to ask questions that are important to you. 

Dental School

Getting accepted to a dental school means that you are one step closer to becoming a Dentist. You should expect to be in dental school for the next four years. Upon completion of dental school, you will get a DDS or a DMD.

Dental school is loosely split up at the two-year mark. In the first two years of dental school, you can expect to be completing a lot of lab work and working within the classroom. For the last two years of dental school, you will primarily be working in the field under supervision.

Dental school is often described as quick-paced compared to undergrad because students are introduced to new coursework daily and are expected to keep up. It is essential to plan to spend a lot of time studying and researching to learn the material properly.

Community Involvement

During your time at dental school, your school may offer various opportunities that can help with communication skills and patient base education. These opportunities could include volunteer positions, clubs, and other avenues of community involvement. It is crucial to take advantage of these opportunities as much as you can.

Participating in these opportunities allows you to connect with other people in your field and provides you with real-life experience. You will learn about things like fee-for-service to help you understand the type of working environment you will be in and may even help you hone in on your specialty.

Choose a Specialty

It is important to remember that you do not have to choose a specialty. Most dental school students do not go on to select a specialty and instead become General Dentists. However, some subcategories are available to students. 

There are ten different specialties that you could choose. These are dental anesthesiology, dental public health, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, oral and maxillofacial radiology, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, dentofacial orthopedics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics. Choosing a specialty typically means that you will need to have additional education. It may also require specialty licensure. 

Take the National Board Dental Examination

Once you graduate from dental school, you will need to get your dental license. The first part of getting your license is completing a written exam. The written exam is the same for all states, so you will not worry about varying tests. This written exam is called the National Board Dental Examination.

Your dental school can help inform you of what you can expect with the NBDE. Students are recommended to study extensively for the exam. There are two parts to this exam. A student will likely complete the exam when they are in their last two years of dental school.

Take the Clinical Examination

The clinical examination refers to the live-patient examination, the second part to apply for your dental license. You will need to have passed the NBDE before you can take the clinical examination.

You may want to get in touch with the dental board in your state because requirements and testing procedures can vary by state. Your state may not even require a clinical examination to apply for your license.

Studying for the clinical version of the exam can prove to be challenging. Most individuals who failed the exam did so because they failed a portion of the clinical trial. However, there is always the opportunity to retake the test.

Job Outlook

Dentists are part of the medical field, and there are many different job types, which are expected to continue growing significantly. Between a Pediatric Dentist opening, a need for fitting dentures, and Cosmetic Dentistry, there are no limits to a job alert that you might stumble across. Even during the time of COVID -19, there is an increase in the need for healthcare professionals. However, some states may be set lower or higher than the average growth rate so that graduates who successfully earn their license will have a positive job outlook. The majority of practicing dentists are considered general practitioners.

Career Opportunities

There are many different career options when it comes to dentistry and the successful completion of educational requirements. You will discover that the field is expansive, and you go down unique avenues to follow your interests, finding a career option that is perfect for you and your goals after completing a dental program.

Private Practice

Many Dentists will choose to work in traditional private practice; this can be as the sole dentist or with other dentists in a group practice. Traditionally in private practice, the dentist or dentists are the owners of the practice.

Public Health Dentistry

In public health dentistry, the focus is on community settings. Promoting oral healthcare and helping plan health policy for disease prevention is the primary role of a Public Health Dentist. There are also opportunities in Public Health Dentistry for education and research.

Hospital Dentistry 

Hospital Dentists work alongside physicians to help patients suffering from various medical conditions affecting their mouths. They may work in an emergency room or an operating room. These types of Dentists generally have more training in a hospital setting and are interested in medicine and patient care.

Dental Team Member

Even if you do not want to be a full-time Dentist and work in an established practice, there are still other options. Don’t be afraid to browse different job postings, as something else might pique your interest. Perhaps you decide against being an endodontist or working in oral surgery. Instead, you could still have a dental opportunity as a Dental Hygienist or a Dental Assistant.

Dentists provide their patients with high-quality dental services. If you are interested in dentistry, the first step is to research the field and experience it for itself. Focus your classes on your interests and follow this guide to help you along your journey in dentistry.

Ready to begin?