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Job Duties

Dentists diagnose and treat problems with patient's teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth.

Education and Certification Requirements

Dentists typically need a bachelor's degree as well as a graduate level degree from an accredited dental school.  Dentists have either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentisry).  Graduate school for dentistry typically lasts four years and upon completion of their training, dentists must pass both a national written exam and a state or regional clinical licensing exam in order to practice. 

UIUC students preparing for health-related careers should consult Health Professions Advising at the Career Center for help in identifying appropriate prerequisite courses, preparing for professional school exams, and learning how to construct an effective professional school application.


Compensation for dentists varies with type of practice; in 2020, general dentists received total median annual compensation of $158,940. Orthodontists earned a median annual wage of $208,000.

Job Outlook

Employment of physicians is projected to grow 3 percent by 2029; about as fast as the average for all occupations

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