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Orthodontist salary & career outlook

If braces changed your life, or you think it would be fulfilling to help people achieve their desired smile, then you may want to look into becoming an orthodontist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, orthodontists "straighten teeth by applying pressure to the teeth with braces or other appliances." Becoming an orthodontist, according to The American Board of Orthodontics (ABO), requires completing an American Dental Association accredited graduate program in the specialty of orthodontics. Then, to become board certified, you have to take exams through the ABO.

Attending one of the many orthodontist schools available may prepare you for this rewarding career.

Orthodontist salary

It's undeniable: Many orthodontists make what most people would consider good money.

According to the BLS, as of May 2012 orthodontists in the United States earned a mean annual wage of $186,320, with the lowest-earning 10 percent making an annual wage of $67,530 and those in the 90th percentile making an annual wage of $187,199.

Industry makes a financial difference for orthodontists. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries in the United States for orthodontists as of May 2012 were:

  • Offices of physicians ($200,010 annual mean wage)
  • Offices of dentists ($187,010 annual mean wage)
  • Offices of other health practitioners ($183,840 annual mean wage)

The state you live in as an orthodontist can also impact income. According to the BLS, the top-paying states in the United States as of May 2012 for orthodontists were:

  • Wisconsin ($187,199 annual mean wage)
  • Minnesota ($187,199 annual mean wage)
  • Kansas ($187,199 annual mean wage)

Getting even more particular, the city you live in can also play quite a role in how much you earn as an orthodontist. According to the BLS, some of the top-paying metropolitan areas as of May 2012 for orthodontists were:

  • New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division ($240,610 annual mean wage)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division ($240,270 annual mean wage)
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA ($224,800 annual mean wage)

Job outlook for orthodontists

You're joining a growing profession if you choose to become an orthodontist.

According to the BLS, employment of orthodontists is expected to grow by 21 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is an increase of approximately 1,800 jobs in a ten-year period. While it's tough to predict where, geographically, growth will happen the most, perhaps looking at where it's already happened can lead to a plausible prediction. According to the BLS, as of May 2012 the American states with the highest concentration of orthodontist jobs and location quotients in the occupation were:

  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey

If history repeats itself, perhaps the metropolitan areas with the highest employment level for orthodontists as of May 2012, as reported by the BLS, will reflect the future. Those areas were:

  • Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ
  • Akron, OH

If you research an orthodontist education online and decide to attend an orthodontist school, you could be on your way to a very sustainable and rewarding career.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dentists, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dentists.htm#tab-2

The American Board of Orthodontics, http://www.americanboardortho.com/public/