Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Can an Associate Dentist Earn in Different Parts of the United States?

Last year we ran an article about how much Associate Dentists make across the United States.  The data provided was from the Dental Economics Annual Practice Survey.  This week I took an informal poll of our recruiters to learn about the current trends in compensation structures across various regions of the United States

Very important to note the following:
  • Most of our experience is with private or local group practices
  • These compensation averages are based on what we typically see in the market place, so what you may see or hear could potentially be higher or lower. 
  • Income based on percentages is relative to what will be produced/collected, so it is not necessarily fair to compare offers solely based on the percentage paid
  • The more saturated an area, the lower the percentages and average income will typically be for a doctor. However, this is not a universal fact, just likelihood.
  • These numbers were based on doctors with 1 to 5 years of experience
  • We understand the ever-present debate of collections versus production.  What we see is greater than 4 out of 5 practices pay on a collections-based system.
  • We are only talking about Associate Dentists’ income levels.  Not all dentists.  Owners absolutely make more income.  For example, Department of Labor statistics will be significantly higher than what is listed below. 

General Average of Doctors with 1 to 5 years of clinical experience

Total Annual Compensation
Percentage of Collections/Production
Base minimum or guaranteed salary
Other points of note
New England and North East U.S.
35% of collections
Lab expense of 35-50%
South Eastern  and Mid-Atlantic U.S.
30-33% of collections
$110,000 to $120,000 per year; $500/day
Equivalent lab percentage
Midwest and Great Lakes
$130,000 to $140,000
30-33% of collections
$120,000 per year; $500/day
Equivalent lab percentage up to 50%
Great Plains and Rockies
$130,000 to $150,000
30% of collections
$500/day; $120,000/year
If a practice charges lab it will be equivalent to percentage up to 50%
Texas / Oklahoma / New Mexico
$130,000 to $150,000
25-30% of collections
$500-$600/day; $120,000 to $130,000 per year
Rarely seeing any lab fee charged to the associate in recent years
Western Seaboard
25-30% of collections
$400 to $500 per day
50/50 chance the practice charges any amount of lab to the doctor. If they do it is equivalent up to 50%.

Multi-state and National Dental organizations do vary from some of the above, but only in some ways.  Overall, they offer a strong base salary in the area of $120,000 to $145,000 per year, depending on experience.  They pay a percentage of collections/productions that ranges from 25% to 33%.  Some pay the same percentage regardless of the level of production, while others will offer a tiered scale that increases the paid percentage for levels of production/collections that are met.  For example: up to $40,000 = 25%; $40,001 to $50,000 = 27%...  These organizations more often than not offer a full complement of benefits such as 401k, malpractice, medical insurance, CE, etc. 

Overall, what you see here is fairly similar earning amounts across the country.  However, the way doctors are paid varies from the Northeast over to the Northwest.  Something to consider when you are looking for your next practice opportunity.

Posted by Carl Guthrie, Senior Dentist Recruitment Consultant with ETS Dental. To find out more, call Carl at (540) 491-9104 or email at