Orthodontists are dentists who are specialists in diagnosing and treating irregularities in the teeth and jaw, such as correcting misaligned teeth. Their work focuses on designing, fabricating and applying orthodontic appliances like retainers and palatal expanders for the realignment of teeth and jaws. If helping people achieve their best smile sounds like the career for you, this guide is here to help you understand the requirements of the role and how to write a resume to get you closer to the job of your dreams.
Let’s start by looking at three examples of orthodontist resumes at different career levels:
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Job duties of an orthodontist
While some duties can be different from employer to employer — or even if you own your own practice, — there are a few general responsibilities common to all orthodontists. Some essential duties include:
Diagnosing and treating malfunctions and irregularities in the teeth, gums, mouth and jaw.
Using the best-suited orthodontic appliance to treat the patient’s dental problems like malposition of teeth and irregular bite patterns.
Providing patients with complete knowledge of the treatment options apt for them according to their age, dental records and medical insurance coverage.
Monitoring orthodontic assistants while they perform different procedures like sterilizing instruments and changing wires and brackets.
Educating the patients on the procedure they will undertake and the routines they need to establish at home to continue the treatment.
Performing dental surgeries to treat health issues like severe malocclusion.
Orthodontist median salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary of an orthodontist is $237,990 as of May 2020. The job outlook for this job is also expected to rise by 10.8% in the years to come.
Top skills for orthodontists
Orthodontists are specialists within the dentistry industry, so their job entails a highly specialized set of skills. However, soft skills like “communication” and “interpersonal relationships” are also an essential part of the job. Let’s take a look at the top skills specifically for orthodontist roles:
- Molds and orthodontic appliances: Profound knowledge of all the dental devices used in orthodontics is a must. It is necessary for you to efficiently assess the best-suited instrument according to specific patient needs. You should be able to identify when to use a retainer, a brace, a mouthguard or any other dental appliance. Ensure you stay up to date on the latest advancements in the industry since new dental appliances emerge periodically.
- X-ray diagnostics: As an orthodontist, you will be required to perform different diagnostic tests using X-rays for assessing the condition of the patients’ teeth. This is essential to identify problems that are not visible from the outside such as tumors and abscesses. It will also allow you to diagnose and treat orthodontic problems related to the jaw.
- Mechanical dexterity: An orthodontist’s duties require hand tools like band pluggers and periodontal scalers. The mouth is a highly sensitive part of the human body that is also challenging to access. So, an orthodontist should be agile with all the tools and instruments while providing treatment.
- Patient care: Health care providers interact with many patients daily. For a successful treatment, you should educate them on how to use and care for dental appliances like retainers and braces at home. You should also make them aware of techniques to optimize oral hygiene, control plaque and protect teeth and gums.
- Electronic health records: Dental offices use software to manage patient information and history. Software like OpenDental and Dentaltap are used to increase productivity in the office, so you must get familiarized with such programs. An orthodontist’s job requires studying the patients’ records, dental histories, X-rays and teeth plaster models. Technology enables them to perform this task more efficiently.
- Communication: The regular tasks of orthodontists involve regular collaboration with oral surgeons, dentists, assistants and patients. So, having excellent communication is key to being effective at your job and avoiding treatment setbacks.
Educational requirements for orthodontists
DegreeBecoming an orthodontist involves nearly a decade of your time to acquire the academic qualifications mandatory for it since you must obtain a specialized graduate degree. First, you must get a bachelor’s degree in any field. It’s not mandatory to choose a science major, but it’s recommended since it will give you valuable knowledge to perform well in dental school. This is why most students opt for a chemistry or biology degree. Upon completing your bachelor’s degree, you must enroll in a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). In the final year of dental school, you’ll take a two or three-year residency to specialize in orthodontics.
Institutions like Temple University and A.T. Still University offer these programs to specialize in orthodontics. The University of the Pacific offers a comprehensive, research-focused Master of Science in Dentistry and a Certificate in Orthodontics program for all aspiring orthodontists. With a duration of 27 months, it is recognized by the American Board of Orthodontics and is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Through it, you will learn the application of modern-day biological orthodontic principles in dentistry. The Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics program by NYU will also help you thrive as an orthodontist in the long run.
Finally, you can go for the residency programs offered by the American Association of Orthodontists. Each of them is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC).
LicensureThe candidate has to procure a license to practice dentistry by passing the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) first. The next step is to get a specialty license to practice orthodontics, which may require a special state exam.
CertificationsIf you want to thrive as an orthodontist in the long run, the below-mentioned certifications are helpful:
Member associations: If you want to outshine your competitors, earning the American Board of Orthodontics certification will help. For this, you will first need to successfully pass both the written and clinical examination conducted by the board.
Industry-based certification: Continuing your education and taking an interdisciplinary approach to your orthodontics practice will help you prosper as an orthodontist. You can make this happen through the numerous courses offered by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry in different areas of orthodontic dentistry. One of these is the 17-lesson Orthodontic-Restorative Connection program, which will give you valuable insights into the varied orthodontic treatment options. The Orthodontics to Preserve Tooth Structure is another helpful course that will teach you post-orthodontics processes, such as minimal prep veneers, no-prep veneers and smile enhancement.
For-profit organizations: The Brackets Type and Systems Orthodontics Course hosted on Udemy will broaden your knowledge in the orthodontic domain. You will learn the bracket types, treatment mechanics and roth prescription. After completing the course, you will earn a certificate of completion. Apart from this, the Orthodontics Diagnosis and Treatment Methods is another quality course hosted on Coursera. This four-week course will give you efficient inputs in the practical usage of biomaterials in dentistry and their clinical impacts.
Orthodontist resume-writing tips
Now that you know the requirements for the job, it’s time to compose an effective resume that’ll get you closer to your first or next role as an orthodontist. The following tips are a guide to help you write the best version of your resume for every position to which you apply:
- Showcase relevant skills: Include your top skills and the ones mentioned in the job description to increase your chances of getting an interview. If the job description is looking for an orthodontist with knowledge of plastic retainers, add that detail to your resume — if you truly have the skill, that is. Tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying to is vital to let the employer know you meet the job requirements. This means adjusting your resume a little to match the job description of each job to which you apply.
- Emphasize your achievements: An employer is always looking for people who have impressive achievements. Don’t forget to include results from patient treatments and outcomes — list actions, not just job duties. It’s also beneficial if you add numbers to your achievements to make the statement more concrete and specific. For example, “created impressions of patients’ teeth and gums daily” or “fitted 3-5 patients with orthodontic appliances daily.”
- Create a professional summary: The first thing employers see on your resume is the professional summary statement. This section is crucial because it’s your chance to capture the recruiter’s attention so they will be interested in your profile and continue reading your resume. Ensure you include your job title, years of experience, at least one quantified achievement, any specializations and your top skills. However, this section shouldn’t be longer than two or three sentences, so make sure to keep it concise and go straight to the point.
How do you acquire the position of an orthodontist?
To become an orthodontist, an individual has to go through three stages: undergraduate studies, dental school and a residency. Though a medical degree with a specialty in orthodontics is essential to become an orthodontist, to be proficient in your field, you need to also develop good patient care skills and continually enhance your orthodontic’s skill through continual education.
Is being an orthodontist a promising career?
Whether being an orthodontist is a great career choice for you or not depends on your level of interest in the role and dedication to hard work. Orthodontics is rated as the 11th best job in the U.S. and the fifth best paying one. There’s also an anticipated job growth of 10% in the coming years. However, according to a survey by Orthodontics Associate, only 6% of dental students successfully undertake this advanced course. So, if you are to pursue this as a career, be ready to dedicate a lot of time and energy to it.