How Long Does It Take to Become a Dentist?

white teeth

Becoming a dentist is a popular medical career. What I find appealing about a career in dentistry is that you don’t have to deal with as many life-threatening ailments and emergencies. This cuts down on stress but still gives you opportunities to better people’s lives.

Continue reading about becoming a dentist…

So You Want To Become a Dentist?

Like to help people? Like to clean teeth? Don’t like hospitals or emergency rooms? Don’t like sick people?

Then you might like being a dentist. As a dentist, you get to help people, but it is usually in a less stressful situation. You’ll encounter fewer life-or-death emergencies, and your patients won’t necessarily be sick when you see them.

How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Dentist?

To become a dentist, you will need 4 years of college to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and then you’ll spend 3-4 years in dental school.

So plan for 8 years of school.


Your schooling begins with a 4-year college where you earn a Bachelors degree. Generally, aspiring dentists will major in some type of science, but that’s not required. Just make sure you take whatever prerequisite classes are required by dental school. These are usually biology, chemistry, physics, and English, but check with the dental schools you are interested in to be 100% sure.

The next step is the Dental Admission Test (DAT) to get into dental school. You can learn more about this test from the American Dental Association guide.

Next up, Dental school. The first two years of dental school are typically classroom learning, with the last two years being clinical (hands-on work.) It’s similar to med school in that it will be twice as hard as a typical college semester!

Most dental schools award the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) while others award an equivalent degree, Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD.)

Work Weeks, Salary, and Benefits

Dentists salaries are on par with medical doctors. The Department of Labor indicates the average annual salary for a dentist is about $130,000 per year, while the American Dental Association (ADA) lists the average net income for one who owns their own practice at about $186,000. Specialists average about $315,000.

Work weeks are full, but not extraordinary. Most full-time dentists work 35-40 hours per week, spread over 4 or 5 days. I believe those reported hours are what the dentists spend with patients; it might not include the hours spent managing their private practice.

Overall, there is a good amount of work as a dentist and employment of dentists is projected to grow by 16% through 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

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