Revolutionising dental pay: the case for annual salaries over hourly rates


Lucie Simic calls for annual salaries in dentistry, and discusses why this shift would boost job satisfaction, professionalism, and commitment in the industry.

The dental industry has long adhered to a compensation model based on hourly rates for its nursing, front of house and treatment coordinator (TCO) teams. However, as industries around the world evolve, I believe it’s time for the dental sector to re-evaluate its approach to pay.

One potential avenue for improvement is the adoption of an annual salary structure for dental teams, a move that could bring a host of benefits to the industry. By breaking away from the hourly rate paradigm, the dental sector can foster a sense of purpose, job satisfaction and professional growth, bringing it in line with more esteemed industries and refraining from inappropriate comparisons to hourly positions.

As we find ourselves in a continued recruitment ‘challenge’ (I won’t call it a crisis), I think this would also help attract more people into this incredible industry.

Some of the reasons I believe you should move your teams onto an annual pay system:

1. Aspirations and job motivation

Shifting from hourly rates to annual salaries has the potential to inject a new sense of aspiration into the dental profession.

Dentistry is a skilled and respected field, and compensating its professionals with a fixed annual salary acknowledges the value they bring to patient care. This change can motivate dental teams to view their roles not just as jobs but as long-term, meaningful contributions to a thriving practice.

A more motivated team is likely to invest in their personal growth and the success of the practice, creating a positive feedback loop.

2. Creating long-term positions

Annual salaries contribute to a mindset shift, encouraging dental professionals to see their roles as integral, long-term positions within a dental practice.

Unlike hourly wages, which may inadvertently promote a transient approach to employment, annual salaries promote a commitment to the growth and success of the practice. Staff members are more likely to view their positions as part of a career path, fostering loyalty and dedication to the practice’s goals and values.

3. Professionalism and industry alignment

Adopting an annual salary structure brings the dental industry in line with other more professional sectors. Professionals in other industries are commonly compensated through annual salaries, and this shift positions dentistry on par with these fields.

By doing away with hourly rate comparisons to roles like shelf stackers, the dental industry can assert its professional standing, attracting top-tier talent and garnering the respect it deserves.

4. Improved financial planning for aspirations

Beyond addressing the financial concerns of dental professionals, annual salaries enable a more aspirational approach to personal and professional development. With a stable income, dental team members can confidently plan for long-term goals such as further education, home ownership, and retirement.

This financial stability not only enhances job satisfaction but also fosters an environment where staff members can envision a successful and fulfilling future within the dental profession.

5. Improved financial planning

Finally, for business owners, an annual salary provides greater predictability in financial planning.

Budgeting becomes more straightforward, and you can accurately plan your cashflow meaning you can make better informed financial decisions, especially when it comes to pay rises.

A new era

Transitioning to annual salaries in the dental industry signifies more than just a change in compensation structure; it is a commitment to cultivating a sense of aspiration, professionalism, and long-term dedication among dental professionals.

By embracing this shift, the dental sector can stand shoulder to shoulder with other respected industries, attracting top talent, and ensuring that its professionals are recognised for their skills, commitment, and valuable contributions to patient care.

It’s time to propel dentistry into a new era of professional fulfilment and success.

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