From dentists who have been in the field for decades to those who might be on the cusp of starting their career, our long history of working with dentists over the years has caused us to really develop a passion for this profession. We love it. We think it is one of the greatest choices for a profession.
The purpose of this article is to talk to students who might be interested in pursuing a career in dentistry. We hope you’ll find this short article useful in regards to the financial aspect. You probably already know this, but it is a BIG investment you are looking to make.
When it comes to financing your education with student loans, we’ll start first with a warning, then some encouragement, then some advice.
Warning: Don’t look at the cost and accept how much debt you will be going into simply because that is what it seems most students accept. In other words, it can be easy to follow the group think mentality. “If this is what people are borrowing, I guess this is what I need to do too.”
This can be a pitfall for a couple of reasons.
First, what if 2 or 3 years into your education you decide this isn’t the career for you? Statistics show that between 50-70% of college students change their major at least once before graduating. Dental school is expensive and if you happen to change your major to a field with lower paying careers, you could find yourself with debt you can’t afford to repay.
Secondly, it is a pitfall because it discourages you from shopping around. Schools vary significantly in tuition costs, and this is just part of the planning process. You may think that cheaper tuition schools are better for your budget, but sometimes differences in tuition costs can be offset by grants, scholarships and room and board costs. For example, maybe you’ll pay more in tuition for an out-of-state university, but your aunt Jill lives close by and has a spare room you can stay in saving you on room and board. In addition, some schools may have better career placement programs or do a better job preparing you for long-term success. In other words, don’t be so focused on the cost of tuition as you are on the overall value being provided.
This is where creating a detailed plan can be really beneficial. A little planning, preparation and diligence can go a long way in saving you money on your education.
Encouragement: Earning potential can offset your education costs.
If you graduate with 250k in student loans with a doctorate in social work, you are unlikely to be in a position to afford repayment simply because of the average pay of the types of social work jobs out there. However, if you graduate with 250k in student loans (which is close to the average) with a DDS, and started earning 158k (average dentist salary in 2014), this seems much more manageable.
Keep in mind, most graduates will also take on more debt when they purchase a practice. But ultimately, those who are committed to success in the dental industry, often find it. In fact, the dental industry enjoys some of the lowest business loan failure rate of any business loan guaranteed by the SBA at just 2.1% during the first 5 years of a new dental practice.
Dedication, commitment and planning will give you a high probability of success.
Advice: Plan, plan, plan! Have we mentioned you should plan? Ask yourself, if I were to take out x amount per year in student loans for x amount of years, how much debt will I graduate with? What is the interest rate? What repayment plans are available to me? What is the worst case scenario? What is the best case scenario?Am I looking at general dentistry or a specialty? What sort of income will I need to make it work? How long will it take me to pay it off? What is the barrier to entry in my region? Most importantly, is it worth it?
Answering questions like these will help you know what to prepare for. And preparation is key to your long-term success.
Bottom line: If you are certain a career in dentistry is the career for you, with proper planning and a little persistence, this degree choice can be a fantastic investment. In addition to the financial aspect, the dental industry enjoys some of the highest job satisfaction numbers. It is a great career choice for individuals.