Dentists serve as officers in the military to provide preventative and specialty dental care to soldiers and their families. Dental careers are available in many specialty areas including orthodontics, oral surgery and pediatrics. Military dentists must be graduates of an American Dental Association dental school and be licensed to practice dentistry in the United States. Dentists on active duty receive special pay in addition to their officer basic pay.
Dentists hold a rank of Second Lieutenant or higher and receive the basic pay for their rank. For example, as of 2010, a second lieutenant in the Army with less than two years of experience earns $33,408 per year. This amount increases with experience and promotions. In addition to basic pay, service members may qualify for a Basic Allowance for Housing if they live off base and Basic Allowance for Subsistence up to $200 per month. Service members also receive an allowance for uniforms and clothing and receive a cost of living allowance if based in a high cost of living location.
Special Pay and Bonuses
As of 2010, dentists receive a $75,000 sign-on or Accession Bonus when they sign on for four years of active duty. They receive $3,000 to $12,000 per year in Variable Special Pay based on experience and years served. Board Certified Pay is offered to dentists who are board certified in a dental specialty area. This pay is based on years served and ranges from $2,500 to $6,000. Dentists who sign on for at least one additional year of service are eligible for Additional Special Pay in the amount of $10,000 to $15,000 per year. Finally, a Multi-year Retention Bonus is offered to dentists who work in a specialty area who agree to stay on active duty for an additional two to four years. This bonus is based upon the length of the commitment and the dentist's area of specialty and ranges from $13,000 to $50,000.
Dentists may be eligible for military loan repayment programs. These programs are available to active duty service members in the dental corps and offer up to $120,000 to pay student loan debt. Dental residency and college programs are also available for dentists who are not yet licensed. For example, the U.S. Navy offers dental residents up to $45,000 in grant money per year and a monthly stipend of $2,060 for up to four years of residency. Dental students are offered the Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program offering $2,060 per month as a stipend and a $20,000 sign-on bonus. In addition, the Navy will cover all tuition costs in this program.
The military also offers service members and their families a full range of benefits. Soldiers receive comprehensive health and dental care through the TRICARE program. Life insurance is offered through the Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance. Service members also earn 30 days of vacation leave each year.