The data on student debt for dental specialists like endodontists leaves a lot to be desired. We’re probably the only group in the country that creates student loan plans for endodontists on a regular basis. Our average endodontist has owed $466,571. What is the average amoung for endodontist student debt? It has been from $166,000 to more than $700,000. The average endodontist salary from our data is approximately $250,000.
Root canals have an infamous reputation among the public because of pain. That same dread seems to apply to discussions of endodontist student loans as well among new doctors. While previous generations might have graduated dental school with a manageable amount of debt, new grads come out of endodontics residency in some cases owing more than twice their already considerable salaries.
The Endodontist Salary Depends on Location
The doctors we’ve worked with have made anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000 per year. However, far more make something in the low to mid 200s. Your compensation as a new endodontist will heavily depend upon where you decide to practice. For example, a doc without much competition in an exurban area of Texas could expect to make loads of money.
Meanwhile, the same person in parts of southern California might feel lower middle class, as her income might be in the $200,000 to $250,000 range, and her housing costs might eat up 30% to 40% of her pay.
Supply and demand are powerful forces for endodontist salaries. You’re much better off being one of only a few endodontists in town as a trusted source of help for general dentists. However, in highly populated, primarily east and west coast areas where young doctors like to live, we’ve noticed significantly lower rates of compensation.
What is the Average Student Debt For Endodontists?
To become an endodontist, you must complete an approved residency program. Most doctors seem to choose 2-year programs with stipends in the $40,000 to $60,000 range, although 3-year programs are still out there. Some programs require additional fees, usually in the $10,000 to $20,000 range from our experience.
The biggest factor in how much debt you have when you start practice is your choice of dental school. If you want to pay off your debt as an endodontist, you better make sure you chose your in-state public dental school and eschewed the offers from the high cost private dental schools in big cities.
Remember that during endodontics residency, you’ll continue to accrue interest. Often these additional couple years of residency will result in an additional $40,000 to $60,000 of interest piled on top of your balance.
Here’s a hack to realize. The Revised Pay As You Earn program (REPAYE) allows you to receive an interest subsidy from the government equal to 50% of the interest your required payment doesn’t cover. With a stipend of $55,000 for example, many doctors choose the easiest option, which is deferment.
If you instead waived your right to in school deferment and requested REPAYE start immediately, you might only pay $300 a month, but you’d receive something between $10,000 to $30,000 of interest subsidies during training.
How Endodontists Earn a Living
While some doctors choose to have their own practice, we’ve seen some travel around to various dental practices. They’ll split whatever revenue they produce with the general dentist who owns the practice.
Although the nomadic option seems riskier, we’ve seen a lot of our highest earning clients take this independent contractor route. After all, if you’re getting 50% of revenue but don’t have much overhead, you’re capable of bringing in a lot more money too.
Of course, deciding the right path for your career is a case by case basis.
Endodontist vs General Dentist: What is the Better Path?
Many young dentists get restless and ask me if they think it’d be a smart idea to go back for a residency program. My advice is typically that if you’re business-minded and enjoy the nuts of bolts aspect of building a dental practice, then you’ll probably do better in general dentistry.
However, if you’re going to be a corporate associate and earn $130,000 a year working for Heartland Dental, then I strongly suggest continuing your education.
We have plenty of general dentist clients earning as much as our highest earning endodontist. Earning a lot in dentistry is more of a function of how good you are as a business person more than what your specialty is.
That’s only the financial aspect of the decision though. If you feel a lot more passionate about being a diagnostician to find the true source of pain than doing bread and butter dentistry, you could have a fulfilling career as an endodontist.
Endodontists vs Other Dental Specialists
I can confirm that oral surgeons and orthodontists have more debt than endodontists on average. While they generally have higher income too, I would go with endodontics over these other fields if you’re worried about student debt because the time to earning higher than general dentist wages is shorter.
You’ll probably have a higher income than pediatric dentists too with a similar amount of training.
I don’t see a clear difference between endodontists and prosthodontists or periodontists in terms of debt and income. If you’re undecided between these three fields, don’t choose based on money.
How a Texas Endodontist Can Get Ready to Refinance
Pretend that your friend Jill just finished her endo residency after completing four years of dental school in Texas. She comes out owing $400,000, but she expects to earn $35,000 per month shortly. This will likely increase. Is dental school debt worth it?
She could refinance right away, but then she would have to pay huge cash flow per month, which could hurt her in qualifying for a practice if she wanted to buy or start her own. Endodontist student debt makes it harder for dentists to build wealth.
In this situation, I’d suggest that Jill gets certified immediately after residency on her resident income. Her REPAYE payment would be $307 per month.
Normally, her interest would accrue at $28,000 per year (assuming a 7% interest rate on her debt). With the REPAYE subsidy, she would have interest accrual of only $15,840. That’s a difference of over $12,000 in year 1. That’s an effective interest rate of 3.96%, which is lower than everything but a 5 or 7-year student loan refinance.
Jill could stay on this REPAYE plan and make extra payments to try and get below 350k in her first year. At that point, the loan servicer would find out about her higher income from her tax return, and she could refinance to a private lender.
How a California Endodontist Can Focus on Her Wealth Instead of Debt
Let’s assume Carmen lives in southern California where her family is located, even though she knows she will earn less money long term. Carmen owes $400,000 on her loans from becoming an endodontist.
She has been paying on the PAYE program for 2 years but hasn’t thought about her loans much until she decided to start a family with her partner, who’s a high school teacher earning $60,000.
This is a classic case showing the complexity of student loan repayment rules because California is a community property state. If Carmen got married, she could file taxes separately and equalize their incomes on the federal tax return.
In other words, instead of paying off dental school debt based on a $225,000 income with PAYE (10% of discretionary income), Carmen could pay based on ($225,000+$60,000)/2 = $142,500. This results in payments of $1,036 a month instead of $1,723 a month. Here’s an illustration of the cost below (keep in mind to focus on the present value at the far right).
Carmen could pay over $4,000 per month and try to get out of debt in 10 years, or she could get married and take legal advantage of the student loans rules. We didn’t even discuss how she could open up special retirement accounts, take deductions on her Adjusted Gross Income, and the other countless tips you could apply to increase the value of endodontist student loan forgiveness.
Get a Plan to Get Out of Your Endodonist Student Debt
Even though it will take a lot longer to deal with student debt than it takes for you to do a root canal, the pain needn’t be that high.
The worst situations are when a doctor has put 0 thought into his or her strategy and is on autopilot. Luckily, with a little attention, you can drastically slash the long-term cost of your endodontist student debt.
The right plan depends on a combination of factors, such as how much money you plan to earn, what you want for your career, your state of residence, and your attitude towards debt.
You can figure out what path to use with our tools and resources or hire us to make a custom student loan repayment plan for you.
Either way, don’t be like the patient who ignores their problem until it’s so serious that it takes huge amounts of effort to fix. Get a plan sooner rather than later so you can rule your future and not your debt from your endo and dental school training.
What state will you practice in? Has this changes at all after reading this article?