By Paige Anderson
Choosing the right state for your dental career can be a challenge. Whether you’re a newcomer to the field or an old hand looking for a fresh start, every state has something to offer.
For dentists and hygienists looking for eternal summer, Florida has a lot to offer. You'll enjoy easy beach access from anywhere in the state. There's fresh and saltwater fishing, kayaking, and surfing. Three international airports and world-class attractions mean you'll never lack entertainment options.
Demand for dentists is high in Florida. There is usually a shortage of dental providers so you should have an easy time building your patient roster and finding employment here.
Florida doesn’t have any state income tax and tends to be very friendly toward business owners, so you’ll take home more of what you make. But property costs have gone up in recent years, so finding a home could present a challenge.
You can count on never shoveling snow again, but hurricane season can disrupt business in late summer. If you do choose to set up shop in Florida, be sure to buy a hurricane policy along with your normal insurance since most policies won’t cover storm damage.
As you may be aware, staffing shortages have put dental hygienists in high demand in many areas of the country. With high salaries for both dentists and dental hygienists, Minnesota is a great state to put together a dream team.
Minnesotans are more likely to carry dental insurance than residents in other states. They're also great about making their regular dental visits, so dental practices thrive here.
With low crime rates and great education, Minnesota is a great place to raise a family. It’s also a fisher’s dream with plenty of outdoor activities. The state’s reputation for friendly folks makes it a welcoming prospect for those looking for a place where it’s easy to become part of the community.
Of course, bitter winters will be part of your life here, and the cost of living is higher than you might expect. Many areas feel a little small-town, and city rats may find the lack of world-class entertainment leaves something to be desired.
If you’re looking for a best-of-both-worlds place to live, Nevada is worth considering. With great salaries for dentists and hygienists and no state income tax, your earning potential is considerable here. You'll also get the chance to bring dental care to people who need it most.
Nevada Health Service Corps offers a great student loan repayment program. You can improve access to care for underserved populations while establishing yourself in a state with great long-term potential.
Dental clinicians who want to enjoy their time away from the office in the great outdoors could definitely do worse than Nevada. The state boasts some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes and hiking trails. You’ll also be able to visit the Vegas Strip for some of the best shows and nightlife anywhere in the world. Nevada is a great option if you want cosmopolitan options as well as peace and quiet.
Of course, Nevada can get hot (it is the desert, after all), but you can escape to the mountains in neighboring states for some relief.
There is considerable distance between towns in some areas. This can make it hard to find a reliable patient pool due to significant travel demands, which is one reason many patients lack access to care.
2. Rhode Island
If you’re looking for a great paycheck, Rhode Island appears at the top of many lists for raw income for dentists. Mean dental salaries here fall in the mid-$200,000 range. With taxes in the middle of the pack on a state-by-state comparison, Rhode Island offers amazing potential earnings for dentists without the high tax burden of some other Northeastern states.
With access to New York and Boston, Rhode Island is an ideal locale if you’re looking for a metropolitan lifestyle and affordable cost of living. In fact, a commuter rail connects Providence to Boston in less time than it takes to drive there. If you enjoy travel, having these international hubs within reach makes Rhode Island a great home base.
Of course, as with any Northeastern state, you can expect pretty intense winters. With its famously limited geography, Rhode Island can sometimes feel more like a small town. If you’re looking for anonymity, it might not be the perfect fit for you.
Alaska is the hidden gem for places to practice dentistry but tops out many lists for best places to be a dentist. With very high pay, no state income tax, low sales tax, and incentives to attract dental professionals to the state, Alaska is bending over backward to attract talent.
Alaska struggles with chronic shortages of dental providers. The state offers great options for student loan repayment programs, especially if you’re willing to go rural.
If you want to change lives with quality care, you can make significant impacts on a community here. But you'll also reap the benefits of these loan repayment programs and great dental salaries.
Obviously, you’ll need to be okay with a cold climate if you choose Alaska! Although some areas are isolated, Alaska isn’t all backcountry. Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks all have metropolitan areas with great dining and entertainment options. The lifestyle here generally appeals more to the outdoor adventurer looking to return to nature.
Make Any State the Perfect Place for You
Every state has its pros and cons. While considerations like mean salaries and tax rates may make a significant impact on your decision, at the end of the day, it’s about finding a place where you can thrive as a healthcare provider.
Remember that work-life balance directly affects your career longevity. As you consider potential locations for your career, consider how you love to spend time away from work so you can relieve stress and enjoy a long, fulfilling career.
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Author: Paige Anderson is a dental hygienist with eight years of clinical experience and an English degree. She blends her two areas of expertise to create resources for dental providers so they can change lives by giving their patients the highest possible standard of care.