Explore Your Options
If you’re an orthodontist entering or transitioning in the profession, use the checklist below to help you consider your options and identify a career path that is right for you. Be sure to click on each action item for a list of supporting tasks and resources.
Conduct a personal assessment and establish your personal philosophy, goals, preferences, and desired arrangements
- Why did you choose to pursue a career in orthodontics?
- What are your professional goals and aspirations? Where do you see yourself in the next 1-2 years? 5-10 years?
- What are your values? What is most important to you in the way you live and work?
- What motivates you? What directs your actions and decisions?
- How would you describe your personality?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How would you describe your ideal community and lifestyle?
- What are your income needs and expectations?
Learn about orthodontic career pathways and evaluate legal, financial, environmental, and personal advantages and disadvantages
- Which pathways appeal to you the most? Which do not?
- Which career paths align with your personality, strengths, and weaknesses?
- What arrangements are non-negotiable? In what ways are you willing to compromise?
- AAO White Paper: Orthodontic Career Considerations for Residents and Graduates
- AAO Practice Modalities Comparison Tool
- AAO Webinar (2015) – How to Identify Orthodontic Job Opportunities
- AAO Webinar (2014) – What’s Best: Starting a Practice or Purchasing an Existing One?
- AAO Webinar (2012) – Path to Ownership, Partnership, Associateship
- AAO Webinar (2011) – Academic Careers in Orthodontics
- Group Practice: Look Before You Leap, Especially into a Nontraditional Group
- Dentistry and the Military
Connect with peers, experienced doctors, mentors, experts, and other consultants to seek advice and clarify your career plans
- Write down a list of questions you would like to ask
- Determine how you can learn from their experiences
- Find out if your connections can introduce others who can help
Create a professional development plan based on your ideal career pathway(s)
- What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you need to have? (e.g., business management, finance, marketing, communication, leadership, negotiation, research, teaching, etc.)
- What types of learning opportunities or experiences will aid in your development?
Analyze your financial needs
- Consider refinancing or consolidating your student debt through a provider such as SoFi (an AAO-endorsed program)
- Consider current and potential living expenses, loans, and other debt
- How much income will you need to cover your monthly expenses?
Determine where you want to live and practice
- Consider the cost of living such as housing, utilities, taxes, transportation, health care, cost of groceries, etc.
- Consider factors that contribute to your quality of life such as climate, population, culture, education, healthcare facilities, daily commute, proximity to family and friends, etc.
- If applicable, consider family needs for your spouse and children such as career opportunities, educational systems, sports and recreational activities, etc.
Check state dental boards for licensure and reciprocity rules to determine where you can practice
Ready to make a transition?
Access the any of the following checklists to get started.