Independent Contractor

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
  • Statement of work
  • National provider identification (NPI)
  • Insurance – malpractice, life, health, long-term disability, unemployment, worker’s compensation


  • Typically does not have any ownership or equity in the practice
  • May include a time-sharing arrangement (the contractor rents time, space, and equipment in an existing practice) or solo-group arrangement (contractor shares facility overhead, personnel, supplies, and/or marketing expenses with other practitioners)
  • May be short-term or long-term with full or part-time hours

Financial Risk

  • Medium financial risk to manage finances and other business expenses
  • Responsible for some overhead and operating costs
  • Generally requires investment in facility fees, instruments, equipment, professional liability and malpractice insurance
  • Financing may be necessary
  • May have less job security compared to practice ownership

Income and Other Compensation

  • Fixed and/or variable income based on pay structure
  • Often receives income on a per diem basis
  • Income potential is generally lower compared to practice ownership
  • Responsible for benefits such as vacation and sick leave, health insurance, life insurance, disability, retirement plan, professional dues, continuing education reimbursement, liability and malpractice insurance, etc.
  • Business expenses may not be reimbursed
  • Responsible for paying income, social security, and Medicare taxes

Practice Operations

  • Requires some managerial and administrative responsibilities
  • Offers autonomy and control over work routines and procedures, such as how or when the work is done
  • May need to balance patient care with some management of business operations
  • Generally has the freedom to determine hours, fees, patient scheduling and treatment planning
  • May need to establish patient pool and hire chairside employees
  • May share the same patient base with another orthodontist and/or develop an in-house referral base with a general dentist or other dental specialist

Learning Development Opportunities

  • Opportunity to obtain clinical, technical, and some practice management experience
  • May be responsible for seeking out 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, collections, malpractice, marketing, antitrust, taxation, and more
  • Not covered by employment and labor laws
  • Responsible for malpractice claims

Contractual Considerations

  • Often includes an independent contractor agreement outlining basic terms, legal classification, general duties, compensation, office coverage, policies, and other conditions
  • May own patient records (per contractual agreement)
  • 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 independent contractor agreement

Work Life Considerations

  • Opportunity to enter a community where establishing or purchasing a practice may be difficult or unavailable
  • Will have flexibility to set work hours
  • May experience greater work/life flexibility and freedom of movement compared to practice ownership

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