Approximately 155,000 dentists are employed in the United States. Nearly all pediatric dentists in the United States are in private practice. Of the remainder, about half work in research or teaching, or hold administrative positions in dental schools. Other opportunities for dentists can be found in the armed forces, public health services, hospitals, and clinics.
Once a dentist has graduated from an approved dental school and passed a state licensing examination, there are three common avenues of entry into private practice. A dentist may open a new office, purchase an established practice, or join another dentist or group of dentists to gain further experience. There are, however, other choices for licensed dentists. They may also choose to work in hospitals, clinics, or schools. For some, work in a dental laboratory or teaching dentistry will provide a satisfying career.
Dental associations often provide job leads. For example, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offers job listings at its Web site, https://jobs.aapd.org.
Advancement for the newly licensed pediatric dentist in private practice depends on his or her personal skill in handling patients as well as dental work. Through the years, the successful dentist builds a reputation and thus advances with a growing clientele. The quality of the work depends in part on an ability to keep up with developments in the field. For salaried pediatric dentists, advancement will also depend on the quality and skill of their work. Teachers may look forward to administrative positions or to appointments as professors.
Success may also depend on the location of the practice; people in higher-income areas are more likely to request dental care. In small towns and sparsely populated areas a great need exists for dentists, and competition is slight. In cities where there are many dentists, it may be more difficult to establish a practice despite the larger pool of possible patients.
Once you graduate from dental school, consider entering into an associateship with an established dentist. Associateships allow new dentists to gain more practical experience, practice with an experienced dentist, and earn money to pay off college debts before buying or opening their own practice. Visit https://success.ada.org/en/career/associateships-what-how-and-who.
Read publications such as Pediatric Dentistry Today (http://www.pediatricdentistrytoday.org) to learn more about trends in the industry.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Become certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry to show potential patients that you have met the highest standards established by your profession.
Conduct information interviews with pediatric dentists to learn more about the career and establishing a practice.