Educational Requirements for Orthodontists
Do you enjoy working with your hands and solving problems? Are you known for being keenly detailed and having high stamina? These characteristics, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bode well for a career in oral medicine. If you're thinking about pursuing this profession, you'll want to learn about the rigorous educational requirements.
An orthodontist completes an orthodontic residency after graduating dental school, explains the AAO. It typically takes a total of 10 to 11 years before they are certified and licensed to practice; that's about four years at an accredited undergraduate school, four years at an accredited dental school and two to three years in an accredited orthodontics residency program. According to the BLS, orthodontists in training need to take the following steps before being able to practice:
- Obtain an undergraduate degree
- Pass the Dental Admission Test to be able to apply for dental school
- Complete dental school and residency
- Pass the National Board Dental Examination
- Obtain a license to practice orthodontics as a specialty, which may require a special state exam
According to the American Dental Education Association, there's no recommended undergraduate major for aspiring orthodontists. However, dental schools typically require prerequisite coursework in biology and chemistry. Students wondering how to become an orthodontist might join their undergraduate predental society or work or volunteer in a clinic or office.
Like medical school, dental school is highly demanding. Students split their time between coursework in anatomy, periodontics and radiology, as well as clinical practice, where they gain experience working with patients, according to the BLS.