Negotiating Starting Salaries for New Dental Grads: Here’s the Drill

According to recent surveys conducted by the American Dental Association, new dental grads can expect to receive a starting salary of approximately $140,000. After gaining experience in the dental field, a general practitioner can earn an average of $174,780 and a specialist can receive a monstrous sum of $322,200. To maintain a growing practice and ensure that every patient is cared for, dentists often add new associates to distribute the workload. Generally, practitioners usually welcome associates (i.e. associates planning) into their practice when they accumulate more than 2,000 patients. Starting at a new practice or taking your first job offer after graduate school can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. Amidst practicing for the interviews, focusing on employee training, and handling the transition process, negotiating job salaries can often be lost in the whirlwind of a fresh start. Perhaps this occurs because new grads get caught up in their job offers and immediately accept their initial salary offer or become uneasy when talking about money and negotiating salaries; either way we have compiled a few steps to follow to achieve salary negotiating success.

Time to put your money where your mouth is:

 Top 4 Tips to Increase Your Beginning Salary

 Get to know the company

Research your potential new dental practice and become familiar with their business model. Understand your job requirements and expectations and analyze the company’s employee promotions activity to gain insight on their employee raises and compensation. A salary raise is extremely appealing to employees, but keep in mind proposing additional paid time off, performance bonus, or other benefits could be just as satisfactory—keep an open mind and determine what benefits you would like most from your new job.

Determine your strengths

What makes you different from your peers? How could you be valuable to the practice? These are some of the questions you should examine before negotiating a higher salary. Promote yourself as a dynamic addition to their practice and keep in mind convincing employers to raise their initial salary offer requires selling yourself. Despite the newbie flutters, remember that the practice has chosen you over other candidates and starting back at square one of the hiring process can be a hassle and costly, use this as leverage to propose your salary raise.

Analyze the salaries of similar jobs

Take time to research similar jobs in your field and network with your peers to understand the range of salaries specific to your job. Be able to assert and reinforce your salary knowledge with strong data. To find a salary estimate for your new job offer, get in touch with colleagues holding similar positions that you are applying for, search on websites like, or if you are interested in calculating regional salaries for your field visit the Occupational Employment Statistics page on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Decide your salary goal

After contacting colleagues and researching various websites for salary estimates, calculate an appropriate salary that you would like to accept from a job offer. Your individuality, skill set, personality, and work ethic may be a brilliant match for your practice, making you a high-priority to your employer. With this in mind, regardless of salary reports from various websites or peers, you are a valuable asset to the practice that is hiring you—do not be afraid to argue for a substantial salary raise.

Negotiating salary performance ratings:

Now let’s rank potential salary negotiations. Where would your salary negotiation strategies stand?


  • Uncertain on a plan to negotiate a salary increase with employer
  • Does minimal research on the company and salaries for similar jobs on sites like or
  • Settles for an average salary raise and neglects the opportunity to negotiate any other benefits (e.g. paid time off, bonuses, health care coverage)


  • Educates themselves on the company and their business model
  • Researches salaries of similar jobs in the field
  • Evaluates their own skill set
  • Establishes a reasonable salary raise and negotiates benefits to pair with their target salary


  • Reviews company thoroughly and comprehends job expectations
  • Communicates with HR manager about employee raises and promotions process
  • Conducts extensive research on the salaries of similar jobs in the practice area and contacts colleagues for more information
  • Determines their skill set and differentiators
  • Confidently proposes a generous salary raise and secures paid time off and performance bonuses