Please note: This list is for your informational use and not intended to replace the advice of professional advisors and specialists, including, but not limited to, attorneys and certified public accountants.

General Requirements

  • DDS or DMD degree
  • Completion of a postdoctorate program in orthodontics
  • State dental license
  • Résumé/CV, cover letter, references or letters of recommendation
  • Employment agreement
  • National provider identification (NPI)
  • Insurance – malpractice, life, health, long-term disability


  • Typically does not have any ownership or equity in the practice, though ownership buy-in or buy-out opportunities may be available
  • May be full-time or part-time

Financial Risk

  • Low financial risk to become a paid employee
  • Not responsible for overhead and operating costs
  • Requires little to no upfront investment
  • Financing is not necessary
  • Opportunity to decrease or maintain personal debt
  • May have less job security compared to practice ownership

Income and Other Compensation

  • Fixed and/or variable income based on pay structure
  • May receive base income, incentive bonuses, and/or a percentage of production or collections
  • Income potential is generally lower compared to practice ownership
  • May receive benefits such as vacation and sick leave, health insurance, life insurance, disability, retirement plan, professional dues, continuing education reimbursement, liability and malpractice insurance, etc. (excludes most part-time positions)
  • May deduct business expenses
  • Income, social security, and Medicare taxes withheld

Practice Operations

  • Requires little to no managerial and administrative responsibility
  • May have little to no autonomy and control over practice decisions depending on the structure and size of the organization
  • Opportunity to devote more time to patient care without the need to manage business operations
  • Employer typically oversees patient care, performance, systems, policies and procedures, staff, tools, equipment, and supplies
  • May have limited input in determining practice philosophy, policies, fees, patient scheduling, and treatment methods
  • May have some responsibility for establishing patient pool and/or meeting production quotas
  • Philosophy of care may be more generalized depending on the size of the organization and number of dental specialties

Learning Development Opportunities

  • Opportunity to obtain clinical, technical and some practice management experience
  • Generally offers learning and professional growth opportunities
  • May work closely with and learn from a colleague and/or experienced doctor

Legal Considerations

  • Must understand and comply with federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and requirements related to office safety, patient treatment, malpractice, taxation, and more
  • Covered by a number of federal and state employment and labor laws
  • Responsible for malpractice claims

Contractual Considerations

  • Often includes an employment agreement outlining basic terms, legal classification, general duties, compensation, office coverage, benefits, policies, and other conditions
  • Typically has little to no ownership rights to patients’ records
  • Employer may require a restrictive covenant, prohibiting the employee from joining a competing practice within a certain time period
  • Employer may or may not be receptive to modifications or provisions to the employment agreement

Work Life Considerations

  • Opportunity to enter a community where establishing or purchasing a practice may be difficult or unavailable
  • May include flexible scheduling (mostly for part-time associateships) and paid vacation time
  • May experience greater work/life flexibility and freedom of movement compared to practice ownership

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