How to Become an Orthodontist

orthodontist examining girl's mouth
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What Is an Orthodontist? Brief Overview:

An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in jaw alignment and moving teeth. Following dental school, an orthodontist must complete an additional 2 to 3 years residency program at an accredited school. These additional 2 to 3 years of training and education provide the skills and knowledge that are required to treat the misalignment of teeth and facial development with braces, headgear, retainers and other methods.

How to Become an Orthodontist:

If becoming an orthodontist is a career that interests you, it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It can take ten or more years of education, after high school to become an orthodontist.

The first step to becoming an orthodontist starts with completing four years of college. After earning a bachelor’s degree, the student must complete four years of dental school along with an additional 2 to 3 years of training and education an orthodontic residency. After completing the residency, a dentist must pass the written section of the American Board of Orthodontics exam in order to become a practicing orthodontist.

How Much Do Orthodontists Earn? Average Salary Overview:

As with many professions, an orthodontist’s salary can depend on different factors such as education, experience, location (city and state), available offices hours, and other factors. Even though an orthodontist’s salary can range anywhere from $65,000 to $650,000 annually, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wage of an orthodontist was $186,320 in 2012.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that orthodontists are among the top 20 highest-paid occupations in the United States.

Being an orthodontist can be a very rewarding and lucrative career, however, the path is not an easy one. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, out of 100 dental school graduates, only six go on to become orthodontists.

While these statistics may sound staggering, orthodontists are their own bosses and they are very respected members in the community. They work flexible hours and many orthodontists even choose only to work 3 or 4 days a week.

Career Outlook and Job Demand for Orthodontists:

In the field of orthodontics, employment is projected to grow faster than most careers. An orthodontist who stays stay up to date with the latest technologies and techniques through continuing education will be more likely to find open job positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts growth of orthodontist positions of 21% by 2020.

Related Careers:

If you are interested in a career as an orthodontist, you may also want to explore a career as a dentist a physician, or other careers in dentistry.

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