Alternative careers for dentists (plus duties and salaries)

Updated 19 April 2023

Dentists focus on treating, diagnosing and preventing diseases and conditions that affect the oral cavity, gums and teeth. There are many alternative job opportunities you can pursue as a dentist that can better fit your lifestyle needs, career goals and work preference. Learning about these job opportunities and what they entail can help you choose the right career path for you. In this article, we discuss 14 alternative careers for dentists that you can explore, plus their salaries and duties.

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What are alternative careers for dentists?

Here are 14 alternative careers for dentists:

1. Dental insurance coordinator

National average salary: £22,737 per year

Primary duties: A dental insurance coordinator assists patients with processing dental insurance claims and managing relationships with insurance carriers. Their responsibilities include documenting insurance plan details, processing and submitting claims, answering insurance-related questions and researching insurance plans. They play an essential role in ensuring insurance providers, patients and practitioners receive and make payments on time. Dental insurance coordinators have skills in computer software usage and knowledge of insurance policies. They work in health care facilities to help determine what insurance benefits are available to patients.

2. Medical coders

National average salary: £23,259 per year

Primary duties: A medical coder translates physician reports into useful medical codes. Their primary responsibilities are analysing clinical statements, assigning standard codes using classification systems and identifying documentation deficiencies. They also review and verify documentation supporting diagnoses and identify diagnostic and procedural information. Medical coders work in a variety of settings such as clinics, nursing homes and hospitals to ensure accuracy and consistency in coding. Some medical coders work in insurance agencies to handle patient claims and verify the accuracy of incoming claims. Examples of specialities in this field include:

  • professional coder

  • coding specialist

  • medical coder

3. Patient administration specialist

National average salary: £23,773 per year

Primary duties: A patient administration specialist handles the flow of patients in health care facilities. Their primary responsibilities include ensuring patients fill out paperwork, collecting paperwork, entering patient data into databases and creating data reports. Some patient administrators process paperwork related to patient admission and handle their discharge details. They have strong clerical skills, including computer literacy and organisation, to help record and document patient information. Patient administration specialists utilise their knowledge of medical terms and statistical reports to keep track of patient health and manage medical records.

4. Medical officers

National average salary: £27,513 per year

Primary duties: A medical officer manages health care teams and ensures the smooth running of health care facilities. They act as administrators and oversee all aspects of patient care within their departments. Their responsibilities include managing daily operations, serving as clinical advisors and investigating problems. They also supervise clinical trials and contribute to medical research programmes. Medical officers work in health care facilities to provide effective and safe medical services. They're involved in all areas of medical management, including setting department budgets, updating current staff on changing regulations and recruiting new physicians.

5. Research scientist

National average salary: £27,633 per year

Primary duties: A research scientist conducts studies that contribute knowledge to their field of study. They're responsible for analysing, designing and undertaking controlled laboratory experiments, trials and investigations. Some research scientists develop and implement studies that draw conclusions and gather data for research purposes. They work under senior and principal researchers to collect and analyse reports for lead researchers to interpret. Research scientists work in geoscience, meteorology and pharmacology fields to plan and carry out experiments and investigations. Common specialities in this field include:

  • medical research scientist

  • physical scientists researcher

Related: What does a research scientist do? (With responsibilities)

6. Medical sales executive

National average salary: £28,778 per year

Primary duties: A medical sales executive sells medical equipment and services to clinics, hospitals and health care professionals. Their responsibilities include identifying opportunities to increase product sales, resolving customer complaints and negotiating terms of sales with customers. They specialise in working with a particular type of equipment such as dental tools and x-rays in specific areas of health care. Medical sales executives establish pricing strategies, determine products that companies offer and develop sales strategies that help meet profit goals.

Related: How to get into medical sales: a step-by-step guide

7. Medical ethicist

National average salary: £29,997 per year

Primary duties: A medical ethicist specialises in researching moral, ethical and legal issues in health care facilities. Their primary responsibilities include providing guidance for medical professionals, developing and interpreting guidelines on medical staff bylaws and providing clinical expertise in health care ethics to organisations with health care issues. Medical ethicists work in various organisations, including hospitals, medical schools and universities, to resolve conflicts between patient rights and doctor treatment goals. Common specialities in this field include:

  • medical ethicist lawyer

  • medical ethicist professor

  • medical ethicist consultant

8. Product development engineer

National average salary: £31,335 per year

Primary duties: A product development engineer designs products for the dental and health care industries. Their responsibilities include developing concepts and drawings for new products, working with vendors to build prototypes and testing models. Professionals working in dental product development create various dental products, such as dental adhesives that bond braces to patient teeth. They also develop products that solve problems in dentistry, like equipment that helps dental professionals perform their duties better and products that support the oral health of patients.

9. Communication disorder scientist

National average salary: £33,312 per year

Primary duties: A communication disorder scientist treats and assesses patients experiencing challenges in literacy, language, speech and swallowing. They use a variety of techniques, treatments and methods to assist individuals with communication impairments, allowing them to communicate at a functional level. Communication disorder scientists liaise with pathologists and psychologists to diagnose social communication disorders. They're experienced with child development and developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorders. Common specialities in this field include:

  • speech-to-text reporters

  • electronic note-takers

  • manual note-taker

  • sign language interpreter

  • lip speakers

10. Lecturer

National average salary: £33,901 per year

Primary duties: A dental professor or lecturer provides tutoring and academic counselling to dentist students. They work for higher education institutions like dental schools and universities to teach students looking to become dentists. Their main responsibilities include delivering lectures, preparing lesson plans, answering questions and guiding students through their education. Some dental professors perform independent research studies, publish their findings in academic journals and present their research at conferences.

Related: How to become a professor

11. Health care managers

National average salary: £35,525 per year

Primary duties: A health care manager oversees the management of health care facilities like clinics. They know the most recent laws and regulations to ensure facilities comply with standard health care provisions. Their main duties include identifying staff needs, managing budgets and developing systems that ensure facilities operate effectively. They also assess a facility's technology needs and choose IT systems that suit establishment operations. Health care managers work in institutions such as rehabilitation facilities, research laboratories and hospitals to manage public health programmes, medical equipment manufacturing and scientific research.

12. Medical writers

National average salary: £42,313 per year

Primary duties: A medical writer writes scientific documents for medical fields. They write documents that explain regulations and laws set by government agencies and publish documents on medical research. Some medical writers specialise in writing instruction manuals on how to take prescription medications and how to use medical equipment. Medical writers have experience working as health care professionals, so they can produce online and physical medical documents for informative, educational and promotional purposes. Medical writers work in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to create content for presentations and conferences.

Related: How to start your writer career (plus skills and FAQ)

13. Clinical scientists

National average salary: £43,666 per year

Primary duties: A clinical scientist provides support to clinical staff. Their primary responsibilities include gathering data, conducting experiments and operating high-tech equipment to screen patients for medical conditions. They also write reports on findings and future recommendations, research and develop new methods of diagnosis and organise work in laboratories to analyse patient samples. Clinical scientists work in hospitals, biotechnology companies and medical device companies to research and develop equipment that helps prevent, treat and diagnose illness. Examples of specialities in this field include:

  • clinical data manager

  • pharmacovigilance

  • clinical research associate

14. Health care consultant

National average salary: £72,519 per year

Primary duties: A health care consultant researches and analyses finances to spot strengths and weaknesses in a facility's economic strategies. Their responsibilities include preparing reports, conducting research and meeting with directors to recommend strategies for achieving goals. Health care consultants use their knowledge of health care systems to assess an institution's current operations and expansion goals and recommend growth strategies. They study legal regulations and policies to ensure facilities are up-to-date with operational standards. Health care consultants normally liaise with administrators and executives to expand facility establishments.

Salary figures only reflect data as listed on Indeed at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on one's academic background, experience, location and employer.

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