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Published: Jun 20, 2023 12 min read
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Finding the right orthodontist to join your team can take some work. Before making a hiring decision, you need to create a job description, post it on a job search site like ZipRecruiter (gaining access to an average of 22k new job seeker profiles created daily*), find the best candidates and determine the most important questions to ask during an interview.

This guide will cover how to find great candidates and how to hire an educated, experienced orthodontist who fits your company’s culture. Keep reading to learn more.

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What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who diagnoses and treats dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists complete four years of dental school and two to three years of specialized training in orthodontics. They work to develop personalized treatment plans for patients who suffer from irregularities such as:

  • Misaligned teeth: crooked, crowded or spaced too far apart
  • Bite issues: overbite, underbites, crossbite and open bite
  • Jaw misalignment: causes biting, chewing or speaking issues
  • Bruxism: teeth grinding and clenching

Many orthodontists work with pre-teens and adolescents, but others see patients of all ages. Their patient load will depend upon the specific practice and the requirements of the position you need to fill. When creating a job description, you should specify the types of patients your new orthodontist will treat.

What does an orthodontist do?

Orthodontists use their expertise to treat dental and facial abnormalities. Their primary goal is to improve the function and appearance of a patient's teeth. By using orthodontic appliances such as braces, clear aligners and retainers, they can change the position of problematic teeth and help patients get healthier, straighter smiles.

Orthodontists perform a variety of tasks, including:

  • Evaluating patients
  • Diagnosing dental and facial abnormalities
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Installing, monitoring, adjusting and removing orthodontic appliances
  • Performing surgery to fix larger problems with the teeth and jaw

The orthodontist hiring process explained

You should design an orthodontist hiring process that allows you to attract and select the best candidate. If you take time to develop a thorough process, you'll be more likely to hire a skilled professional who fits with your organization's culture. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at how to proceed with the orthodontist hiring process.

Define what a successful orthodontist candidate looks like to you

Start by creating an ideal candidate profile for your available position. List the attributes that your perfect hire would possess. While you may not find a candidate who checks every single box on your list, this profile will give you a good point of reference as you evaluate candidates and conduct your interviews.

You may want to consider the following factors when creating your ideal candidate profile:

  • Education and experience: What are the minimum requirements?
  • Skills and competencies: What is needed for success in your practice?
  • Personality and work style: What traits are best suited for the position?
  • Cultural fit: What are the values, culture and working environment of your practice?
  • Long-term goals: How will the future goals of the practice affect this position?

Create an orthodontist job description with all the necessary details

The next step is to post your current openings on some of the best job posting sites for employers. But before you can do that, you’re going to need a job description that captures everything you want in a new orthodontist for your team. If you're not sure where to start, check out ZipRecruiter's orthodontist job description template.

When crafting the perfect job description, clearly outline the job responsibilities, qualifications and specific skills required. In addition, be sure to include information about your company's culture and values as well as any perks that set your organization apart from competitors. Finally, you may want to include information about benefits and compensation for the job.

Education and experience

An orthodontist education includes a bachelor’s degree and a four-year dental orthodontist degree. In addition, they must complete two to three years of specialized, graduate-level orthodontist schooling. These requirements are necessary for licensure and, therefore, non-negotiable.

On the other hand, the amount of and type of experience will depend on your practice. You may need to hire an experienced orthodontist who has worked with specific types of patients in the past. Or you may want to hire a new orthodontist at a lower salary point.

Licensing and certification

In addition to completing dental school and an orthodontic program, orthodontists must be licensed to work in the state where they practice. The licensing process can vary from state to state, but you should be aware that an orthodontist isn't legally allowed to examine patients at your practice until they possess the requisite licensure.

Hard and soft skills

There are a variety of hard and soft skills that you may want your orthodontist applicants to possess. Hard skills are job-related knowledge and abilities directly related to the science of orthodontics, such as installing braces or creating dental molds.

Soft skills, on the other hand, describe personal attributes that will help a candidate thrive in the workplace. Soft skills include effective communication, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and time management. For example, if your practice primarily works with younger patients, you may want to hire a candidate who can relate to and communicate well with children.

It's important to focus on both types of skills when making a hiring decision. While you need an orthodontist who is competent, you also need one that can collaborate with colleagues and communicate well with patients. If you want your candidate to have specific hard and soft skills, you should include them in your ideal candidate profile and job description.

Interview multiple candidates and ask the right questions

As you begin receiving applications from qualified candidates, you can begin scheduling interviews. In these meetings, it is important to ask skill-based questions to assess how well they know the field of orthodontics and behavioral interview questions to help you understand them as a person.

Examples of questions that you may want to ask during your interview include:

  • Describe a successful patient outcome and the factors that contributed to it. This question gives you some insight into what the applicant views as a successful outcome and some of the specific strategies they employ when working with patients.
  • How do you deal with patients who have a hard time receiving treatment? Dental molds, X-rays and brace installations can be challenging for some patients. This question will help you assess how an applicant interacts with patients and develops treatment plans to work through challenging situations.
  • How do you diagnose a new patient? This is an open-ended question designed to help you understand an applicant’s general approach to patient care.
  • What was the last new strategy or approach that you introduced to your work? The most successful professionals embrace continuous improvement and innovation. This question can help you identify which candidates are creative thinkers and problem solvers.
  • Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? This question will help you identify whether a candidate is a long-term fit for your team or if they may leave your practice as soon as a "better" opportunity presents itself.

As you conduct your interviews and ask questions like these, it may become challenging to stay organized. Using an applicant tracking system (ATS) can help you keep track of information for each job candidate. Here’s a guide to the best practices for using an ATS with more information.

Choose the right orthodontist for your team

At this point, you should be ready to choose the best applicant for your team. That may mean hiring a pediatric orthodontist, a general family orthodontist or a specific type of orthodontist specialist.

Just make sure that you also familiarize yourself with how to retain employees so that you can hang onto the talent that you just employed. It will also be important to check with the best background check sites to gain a more complete picture of your selected candidate.

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Where to find orthodontists for hire

You can find qualified orthodontists in a variety of on and offline places. Some of the best resources for finding your ideal candidate are included below.

Your career page

Ensure that your website’s career page is updated with your open orthodontist job posting. This will help you attract and convert local orthodontists who search online for “full-time jobs near me”. If you’re not happy with how your career page currently looks, check out this guide and learn how to create a better career page.

Online job boards

Online job boards are commonly used by orthodontists who are looking for new positions. You should upload your job posting to several online job boards, so you can attract as many qualified applicants as possible.

Local and regional networking events

You can also find orthodontists who may be a good fit for your team at local networking events, such as mixers and fundraisers. You may even want to consider sponsoring some of these events to increase community awareness for your practice.

Partnerships with local dental schools

Another underrated strategy for finding qualified orthodontists is forming partnerships with local dental schools. These partnerships give you the opportunity to meet new graduates before they hit the job market, which could help you find a long-term fit at a salary that fits your budget.

Recruiting agencies

Finally, if you have tried everything else and still haven't found a good fit for your team, you may want to look into recruiting agencies. These companies can save you time and energy by identifying and tracking down qualified applicants on your behalf.

That being said, recruiting agencies typically charge a percentage of the hired candidate’s first-year salary, which can be expensive. If you don't have room in your budget to hire a recruiting agency, consider using recruiting software instead. By researching the best recruiting software, you can speed up and simplify different parts of the hiring process at a more affordable rate.

Orthodontist FAQ

What will it cost to hire an orthodontist?

The cost of hiring an orthodontist depends on how you choose to do so. If you use standard online job boards, they will typically charge either a one-time listing fee or an ongoing cost per click generated. Recruiting agencies may charge significantly more than this but will also do most of the work involved with finding and hiring a skilled orthodontist on your behalf. There are pros and cons to each approach, and your best option may come down to your budget.

How much do orthodontists make?


The average orthodontist's salary is $216,320. However, you may be able to hire a skilled practitioner for less than that if they have minimal work experience or you live in an area with a low cost of living, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If the salaries of orthodontists are too high for your practice, you may want to look at hiring an orthodontist assistant. Depending on your needs, an assistant with specialized training may be able to supplement your existing team without requiring full orthodontist pay.

Orthodontist vs dentist: is an orthodontist a dentist?

An orthodontist is a special type of dentist. They have the same training as a standard dentist plus specialized training in orthodontics. The main difference between a dentist and orthodontist is the extra two or three years of specialized graduate study.

Where do orthodontists work?

Orthodontists generally work in private practice offices. They may work alone in their own practice or together with other dentists and orthodontists in a large dental facility. An orthodontist may also work in a hospital or clinic setting, but this is rare.

Summary of Money's how to hire orthodontists

When hiring an orthodontist to join your team, it’s important to start with a clear understanding of the experience and skills that matter most to you. This will help you craft a customized job description, which will help you attract the right candidates.

As you go through the process, take advantage of all of the resources at your disposal to find more applicants. And, when you conduct interviews, be sure to ask questions that highlight how candidates will fit with your existing team in addition to their professional expertise and experience.

*ZipRecruiter internal data. Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2021