Check it out: 8 Backup Careers for Dentists

Check it out: 8 Backup Careers for Dentists

Are you one of the many dentists searching for backup careers that fit your dental skill sets? 

Dentists have many transferable skills, from consulting, dexterity to marketing. There are many career options for dentists who want to transfer from clinical to non-clinical roles. Whether moving to another specialty or using your dental skills to assist community members, there are many career options. If you’re searching for positions where you can use your dentist’s experiences to educate, create, or teach, we’ve got you covered. 

Check out 8 backup careers for dentists and what you need to start your new position.

Community Coordinator (Community Health Worker)

Are you interested in help communities learn more about oral health? Why not become a Community Coordinator? As a coordinator, you help build trust between community and organization and increase health knowledge through community outreach, education, and counseling.

Dental Community Coordinator Responsibilities 

  • Schedule and recruit dental volunteers to assist in schools or community events
  • Maintain relationships with local community organizations
  • Identify barriers and addresses social determinants in the community with the assistance of community leaders
  • Scheduling and attending site visits
  • Provide oral health education at events, sites, schools, etc.

Note: Community (Dental Health) Coordinators can work in or with FQHCs, Head Start programs, private dental organizations or foundations, and corporations, i.e., Colgate Palmolive. You can also work as a non-dental-focused Community Coordinator for various nonprofits and organizations.


Periodontics is a great backup career for dentists who are interested in dental implants, gum disease, and who enjoy complex oral health cases. Like dentists, periodontists attend dental school after undergraduate, but spend three additional years training; graduate periodontal program. Periodontics often make between $50,000 to $100,000. They specialize and treat patients with severe gum issues, repair dental implants, and treat infected surfaces.  

Dental Educator

If you’re interested in educating future dentists or teaching students about oral health, becoming a dental educator may be the best alternative career choice. For dentists who have strong communication skills, enjoy developing curriculum, guidelines, and education materials for patients, it’s easy to transition to education.

Dental Educators contribute to the development of future oral health professionals. They help prepare students to become hygienists, technicians, and assistants. With experience in the dental field, dental educators help students better understand the profession, guide them through externships, and be a dental resource. Educators help publishers develop textbook guidelines, design curriculum, and other teaching materials.

Note: Dental Educators can work in vocational schools, primary or secondary schools, universities, and academic health centers. The salary ranges between $41,000 and $62,000 a year.

Insurance Representative

Dental professionals, especially dentists, are in a great position to join insurance companies. Whether as a customer representative or a consultant exclusive for dental care. Working in insurance, you can help with claims, disputed cases, scientific research, and administrative work. You can work in managerial positions which often require extensive training, including dental degrees and experience. 

Product Manager

Are you a dentist interested in marketing, sales, and developing dental products? As a Product Manager, you create, advertise, and sell innovative dental products. Products Managers with dental backgrounds help set a standard in dentistry technology and market new products to individuals in the dental field. Dental professionals with experience have the advantage of using products and equipment, receiving feedback from patients, and recommending products to patients and others in the area. Most dental field product managers have three to five years of experience: registered dental hygienists or dentists, and knowledgeable in sales and marketing practices. 

Product Manager Responsibilities

  • Liaison between customers and internal team members
  • Help develop clinical education materials, training, presentations, and development tools
  • Builds long-term relationships with communities, organizations, institutions, and other stakeholders
  • Contributes to marketing and advertising of products

Note: Product managers can work in private facilities, pharmaceutical companies, oral health foundations, and dental institutions


Just like dentists, chiropractors are about preventative care. They both treat pain, looking at underlying conditions, and develop interventions for patients’ aftercare. Chiropractors treat patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, i.e., bones, ligaments, tendons. 

To become a Chiropractor, you need a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C) degree and pass all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exam; include state license. Some chiropractors have other training and degrees that provide additional training in orthopedic, dental, and pediatrics areas. 

Environmental Specialist

Dentists know a thing or two about the environment. Becoming an environmental specialist is great for dental professionals interested in climate change, pollution, and making the world a better place. Joining the environmental fields is one of the best backup careers for dentists because dentistry has become more involved in the environmental movement due to increased PPE and other environmentally hazardous materials, mostly used in dental settings.

An environment specialist enforces and regulates the containment and disposal of hazardous materials. They help federal, state, and local policies and educate communities on environmental studies. Dentists have experience implementing environmentally friendly procedures into their practices, developing reducing dental waste strategies, and working with environmental organizations to ensure dental disposal guidelines are in place. 

Environmental Specialist Responsibilities

  • Design and implement environmental management systems
  • Monitor waste storage programs across sites and ensure compliance with local, state, and federal requirements
  • Conduct inventories, audits, and inspections of facilities
  • Coordinate with other environmental specialists to support facilities

Note: Most environmental specialists work with private or governmental entities and make on average $67,460. Some environmental positions, i.e., scientists, engineer make $84,560 or more.

Dental Researcher (Dentist-Scientist)

Working in Oral Health Research is very rewarding.  Dental Researchers or scientists often work in governmental institutions, research centers, universities, and private corporations that focus on oral, dental, and craniofacial health. The goal of dental research is to improve the overall health of the community.

Researchers often use clinical practices and trials to investigate. Usually, researchers assist in legal regulations for dental services and establish governmental regulations and legislation. Working with manufacturers, research centers, environmentalists, pharmaceutical companies, and governmental institutions to create resources, enact health-focused policies, and develop safer oral guidelines and procedures. 

Note: Check out the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s (NIDCR) “Have you considered a career in oral health research.”

There are many nonclinical and clinical career alternatives for dentists who want to stay involved in dentistry. With a background in patient care, communication, and development, you’re able to transition to many roles. If you’re one of the many dentists interested in backup careers, you can create an account here and start looking for different job prospects. 

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About the author

Joycelyn Ghansah

Joycelyn Ghansah is a former Healthcare Organizer with a background public health, include reproductive and sexual health. When she's not freelance writing, she's transcribing interviews and researching ways to strengthen healthcare labor laws.

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