As the saying goes, time flies when you're having fun, and before you know it, it's time to retire. Retirement can be an exciting and liberating phase of life, but it's also important to have a plan in place for it. The dental industry is no exception, and it's fascinating to see the statistical insights surrounding retiring from our field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 200,000 dentists in the United States as of May 2020, with a projected 6% growth rate through 2030. Interestingly, dentists tend to work longer than workers in other professions. In 2020, 31% of dentists were aged 55 or older, compared to 21% of workers in all other professions.
Additionally, 61% of dentists continued to practice after age 65, compared to 21% of all other industries. You might say there are some pros and cons to this late retirement age. For example, coming out of school, dentists do tend to have a large amount of educational debt. However, once that’s paid off, dentists do generally love what they do, and enjoy working later in life.
When it comes to retirement savings, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 67% of private-sector workers in the United States had access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2020. However, for dental professionals, this number is much higher. A study by the American Dental Association found that 96.7% of dentists offer their employees access to a retirement savings plan, and 76% of dentists participate in such a plan themselves.
So, what does all of this mean for dental professionals planning for retirement? First and foremost, it's essential to have a plan in place, as retiring without sufficient savings can lead to financial struggles later on. But these stats show a positive outlook since most dentists and dental professionals have access to their own or employer-sponsored retirement plans and take advantage of them.
The world is changing, and so are the industries that power it. Over the past few months, we have seen a phenomenon that has been dubbed "the great resignation." People all over the world are quitting their jobs at an unprecedented rate, seeking new opportunities and pursuing new endeavors. This has undoubtedly impacted the dental industry, which has always relied on a rather deep pool of skilled and experienced professionals to deliver high-quality care.
For example, younger dentists dealing with student debt can not buy into a local practice. And more women than ever are entering the field. Among the 200,00 dentists working in dentistry as of 2020, 34.5% are female, a 10% increase from 2010. Women tend to look for better work/life balance which means they are often going to work for DSOs. Consequently, there is less of a pool of talent to replace retiring dentists, or for that matter, dental professionals.
For those looking to retire from the dental industry, this shift presents unique opportunities and challenges. On one hand, the great resignation could lead to more job openings for aspiring dental professionals. This is especially true for people who are just starting their careers and are looking for entry-level positions. With so many experienced dentists and dental assistants leaving the industry, there will be plenty of room for new talent to step in and fill the gaps. On the other hand, patients may receive care from some less experienced people.
There are some potential downsides to this turnover in the dental industry. More experienced dentists retiring means less experienced dentists providing care. This could lead to longer wait times for patients and decreased efficiency. Additionally, dental businesses may struggle to find replacements for skilled hygienists and office staff that are leaving, which could lead to a decline in the quality of service they can offer. This could lead to longer wait times for patients and decreased efficiency.
Despite these challenges, it's crucial to remember that retirement from the dental industry can still be a happy and fulfilling experience. By taking the time to plan and consider the unique aspects of this field, dental professionals can ensure that they retire on their own terms and leave their legacy intact. For dental business owners, whether it's passing their practice down to a family member, selling it to a new owner, or simply closing it down with dignity, retiring dentists can rest easy knowing that they have done their best to ensure the continued success of their business and the wellbeing of their employees and patients.