This is a bit of a long post, but hopefully How exactly do you prefer to work? I recommend taking multiple personality tests to give yourself an idea about what type of work you like ( Four COLORS, Big 5, Meyers Briggs, DISC profile, etc). This could also shed some light on if your personality would thrive more in a group practice setting or a solo practice, or even specializing. Personality tests are not foolproof, but might give you direction if you have no idea where to go. This could even help early prospective pre-dental folks trying to decide if dentistry is right for them. To them I’d say Cal Newport reminds us in his book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” not to take the traditional advice of just doing the job you’re passionate about lest you embark on a never-ending hunt for the mythical “soulmate career.” Focus on obtaining rare and valuable skills no matter what career you select. One of dentistry’s biggest advantages (aside from bettering patients’ lives and getting to wear a tooth-themed neck tie) is to be a business owner.

After deciding if your personality and goals point to practice ownership (and speaking to current owners about why they decided to own), the next step is to find a location and determine demographics. Everyone has different opinions about what makes one area “better” than another (Family? Friends? Climate? Opportunity?). You can pay for professional demographic studies at Dentagraphics (https://dentagraphics.com/), Practice Cafe (https://www.practicecafe.com/), or doctordemographics.com (http://doctordemographics.com/). I started using Dentagraphics, but I highly recommend BOTH doing your own due-diligence researching demographics AND paying for a professional study later. This way you can check your work to make sure you don’t make a million dollar mistake. How do you do some of your own demographic research? You can get a rough idea of demographics using the Bureau of Labor Statistics, city-data.com (https://www.city-data.com/), wikipedia, state websites, and google my maps (https://www.google.com/mymaps). (side note: this is by no means the only way to get demographics – use every source you can)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) offers country-wide data about essentially every job (even dental specialties) including pay by state and county, number of jobs, and saturation. All you have to do is type in “dentistry” in the bls.gov website (or whatever job you’re curious about), hit enter, then select the year you’re interested in. It’s reasonable to have some awareness of what the income is for the average dentist in the areas you are looking even if income alone isn’t always the most important factor. For example, It may not be wise to select a practice that is in a county that has the nation’s highest saturation level and lowest income level. Below is the 2019 data for general dentists:

Scrolling down will show you various maps at the state and county level. Just cursor over each area to get the data for that location. These can be helpful for you to try and figure out: Total employment (Green map), Saturation aka location quotient (Red map), Annual Income (Blue map).

Green map: Total employed dentists

Red map: location Quotient is the area’s number compared to the national number. In other words if <1, low concentration of this job compared to the country average, if >1, high concentration of this job compared to the country average

Blue map: Annual Income

http://www.bls.gov reports its data from employed persons, so the income of business owners is only a fraction of this. Generally working as an employee results in lower pay because there is lower risk. Generally speaking practice owners make more than employed dentists, but owner dentists decide how much to pay themselves and the rest of their money stays in the business. (If intersted, Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant further emphasizes income and tax benefits with business ownership).

This post was getting far too long, so it was split into multiple parts. We will tie it all together again at the end again to emphasize the high notes. Doing research is vital for FIRE and this is one of the biggest decision you will make in your life! Look forward to continuing the conversation of demographics using city-data.com, google my maps and cost of living calculators to get clarity on where you might want to practice!

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