California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Dentists, General in California

May also be called: Doctors of Dental Medicine (DMD); Doctors of Dental Surgery (DDS); and Family Dentists

Specialties within this occupation include: Dental Public Health Specialists; Endodontists; Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologists; Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists; Pediatric Dentists; and Periodontists

What Would I Do?

Most Dentists are general practitioners, handling a variety of dental needs. Dentists diagnose and treat problems with teeth and tissues in the mouth. They give advice and administer care to help prevent future problems.

Most Dentists work alone in their own businesses. Some work for other Dentists. The number of hours worked varies greatly among Dentists. Most established Dentists work less than 40 hours a week.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Dentist may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with ideas and that require an extensive amount of thinking. This occupation involves searching for facts and figuring out problems.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, location, number of hours worked, and specialty. Self-employed Dentists tend to earn more than salaried Dentists.

The median wage in 2020 for Dentists, General in California is $140,368 annually, or $67.49 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$101,287$140,368>$145,600
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Salaried Dentists often receive employer-paid benefits, the most common being health, life, and malpractice insurance, as well as retirement benefits. Salaried Dentists may also receive paid continuing education. However, like other business owners, self-employed Dentists must provide for their own insurance and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

The growing older population should fuel demand for the more expensive services and dental products. Growth of dental benefits in managed care also drives demand for routine and optional procedures. Additionally, a large group of Dentists have reached retirement age, so they will need to be replaced in the near future.

How Do I Qualify?

Graduation from an accredited four-year dentistry program is required to become a Dentist. Students receive either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. The minimum qualification for admission to a dentistry program is two to three years of college, but most applicants have a bachelor's degree. Dentists practicing in California must be licensed by the Dental Board of California.

Finding a Job

Job seekers should apply directly to dental clinics, hospitals with dental services, and public agencies, such as the California Department of Corrections. Professional journals and networking with members of dental associations may lead to jobs. Additionally, the military also provides an opportunity to practice dentistry. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).


Learn More About Dentists, General