How Much Does a Dentist Make a Year?

By Susan Guillory · January 25, 2024 · 6 minute read

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How Much Does a Dentist Make a Year?

A dentist who’s been working for five or so years can make around $154,774 a year, according to the latest figures from Payscale. That competitive pay reflects the significant amount of education and training required to do the job. But even brand-new dentists could earn a six-figure salary. The average annual pay for entry-level dentists, including bonuses and overtime, is $130,875.

While becoming a dentist isn’t cheap — the typical dental school graduate owes around $286,200 in student loan debt, according to the Educational Data Initiative — the field is often regarded as virtually recession-proof.

Here’s a closer look at what dentists do, how much they can earn, and the pros and cons to consider.

What Are Dentists?

Dentists are healthcare providers who specialize in oral health, which includes the teeth, gums and mouth. In addition to routine exams and cleanings, a dentist can also perform a variety of services, including filling cavities, putting in crowns or bridges, pulling teeth, or designing and installing dentures. Some dentists operate their own practices, which means they may also manage staff, finances, and marketing.

Being a dentist means interacting with patients all day long. If you are shy and have difficulty starting conversations, you might explore jobs for introverts instead.

Also important to know: It can take six to eight years to become a dentist. While there’s no fast track, know that once you complete your studies, you should be able to earn a nice salary.

As you’re establishing yourself professionally, it’s a good idea to also create short- and long-term financial goals for yourself. Online tools like a money tracker app can help you keep track of your spending and saving and provide useful insights.

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How Much Do Starting Dentists Make?

If you’re considering going through those six to eight years of study, you may want to know, what is a good entry-level salary for a dentist just starting out?

As mentioned before, a brand-new dentist can earn an average of $130,875, which includes bonus and overtime. How much does a dentist make a month? If you break this down, it would come out to $10,906 a month. Keep in mind that if you took out a dental school loan, some of your salary may need to go to paying back what you owe.

💡 Quick Tip: We love a good spreadsheet, but not everyone feels the same. An online budget planner can give you the same insight into your budgeting and spending at a glance, without the extra effort.

What is the Average Salary for a Dentist?

After a few years on the job, how much can dentists make a year? The good news is, salaries usually rise as you gain more experience.

According to data from Payscale, dentists with one to four years of experience earn an average of $144,075 a year. With five to nine years of experience, the average annual salary rises to $154,774. After working 10-19 years, a dentist could earn an annual average of $157,700. And dentists with 20 years or more of experience earn around $169,644 a year.

While most dentists are given a salary, some get paid by the hour instead. In those cases, how much does a dentist make an hour? According to data from Indeed, the average hourly rate is $84.09.

Recommended: Is $100,000 a Good Salary?

What Is the Average Dentist Salary by State?

Wondering how a dentist’s income stacks up against the highest-paying jobs in your state? Check out this chart of average dentist salaries by state.


Average Salary

Alabama $158,710
Alaska $214,683
Arizona $163,176
Arkansas $158,808
California $178,387
Colorado $201,027
Connecticut $162,710
Delaware $189,160
Florida $130,850
Georgia $147,851
Hawaii $209,888
Idaho $170,599
Illinois $186,110
Indiana $166,621
Iowa $161,303
Kansas $183,143
Kentucky $167,951
Louisiana $147,275
Maine $174,287
Maryland $183,213
Massachusetts $212,512
Michigan $166,435
Minnesota $168,682
Mississippi $194,658
Missouri $178,102
Montana $160,717
Nebraska $179,358
Nevada $202,984
New Hampshire $171,464
New Jersey $176,216
New Mexico $167,659
New York $192,506
North Carolina $172,893
North Dakota $214,368
Ohio $163,943
Oklahoma $173,694
Oregon $215,367
Pennsylvania $176,353
Rhode Island $199,480
South Carolina $176,536
South Dakota $202,600
Tennessee $156,518
Texas $169,407
Utah $156,663
Vermont $187,907
Virginia $186,499
Washington $206,840
West Virginia $136,199
Wisconsin $174,572
Wyoming $168,805

Source: ZipRecruiter

Dentist Job Considerations for Pay and Benefits

Curious about how much a general dentist makes a year? The answer varies depending on several factors, including their experience, area of specialty, where they work, and whether they run their own practice.

But if you’re wondering what trade makes the most money, dentistry is up there. And there’s certainly job security. As long as people have teeth (or need to use them), there will be jobs for dentists!

Recommended: What Are the Pros and Cons of Raising Minimum Wage?

Pros and Cons of Being a Dentist

You might be excited at the prospect of making good money as a dentist, but it’s a smart move to weigh potential benefits and drawbacks of the profession. Here are ones to consider:


•   Competitive pay

•   Job stability

•   Can help people have good oral health

•   Potential for a good work-life balance

•   Ability to be able to run your own practice


•   Typically takes eight years of schooling for to become a dentist — four years of undergraduate school and four for dental school

•   May have a sizable student loan to pay off after graduation

•   May need to be on call for dental emergencies

•   Work often requires making precise movements on a small scale, which can be physically taxing over time

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

The Takeaway

Dentistry can be a rewarding career, but you’ll need to be prepared for the hard work and high costs it requires. It takes most people eight years of schooling to be a dentist, and a typical dental school graduate owes more than $286,000 in student loan debt.

While that amount of debt can be overwhelming, keep in mind that dentists often command a high salary and typically enjoy job stability. After working for a handful of years, a dentist could make around $154,774 a year. A dentist with 20 years or more of experience may earn $169,644.

If you’re passionate about helping patients — and are looking for a stable, flexible, well-paying job — dentistry may be the right fit for you.


What is the highest-paying dentist job?

A dentist who has been working for 20 years or more can command a salary of around $169,644.

Do dentists make $100k a year?

Yes, many dentists, even brand-new ones, can earn $100,000 or more a year.

How much do dentists make starting out?

Dentists who have just completed dental school can earn on average about $130,875 per year, according to the most recent data available from Payscale. That figure includes bonuses and overtime pay.

Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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