This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


Membership Revoked
Jan 7, 2022
Reaction score
For someone that likes both fields equally, how would you objectively compare these two fields? Looking for comparisons in regards to financial outlook, job outlook, work-life balance/schedule, work environment, politics, prestige/respect, etc. I will practice either profession in Florida. Keep in mind I actually PREFER not having my own business and instead, working for a hospital or practice. So if I were a dentist, I would most likely be an associate for quite some time at least.

The dental school I currently have an offer for is going to cost me $250K total for tuition + living expenses and I’ll be 28 when I finish.


I can study for the GRE now and apply in the summer for CAA programs. The two schools in my state will cost me roughly $100K total for tuition + living expenses and I’ll be 26/27 when I finish.

Members don't see this ad.
Last edited by a moderator:
I think there are many more opportunities to determine your own fate, control your own life, and be entrepreneurial in dentistry.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Am I the only one that does not know what "CAA" means?
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users
Members don't see this ad :)
This comparison is brought up often, so I’m going to speak in generalities rather than address the specifics of your situation.

The debt to attend a DDS program will be much higher, and the average associate GP is not out earning the average AA (before anyone sources me with salary info, all of the top google results for the AA profession are out of date. Check out gasworks, bagmask, and talk to those who are actually in the field.) DDS cost of attendance can easily pass 400k… AA school won’t run you more than 120-160k. Also, AAs typically work in settings where there are pay scale progressions that reward them as their experience increases, and their salaries have ballooned in the past 7 years. Compare this to how wages in dentistry have stayed stagnant for over a decade now. Not to mention the dentistry market is facing saturation while the demand for anesthesia providers could not be hotter and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Trend history is clearly favoring a side here. But wait! There’s more. pursuing dentistry comes with an opportunity cost of 300-400k considering AA school is on the table here and is 2 years shorter in training length (and that’s just assuming you don’t do a GPR).

Dentistry is higher risk higher reward. Obviously, your ceiling is limitless as a entrepreneurial clinician and various dental specialists make a killing. But that has already been made clear to you (not to mention running a business comes with its own headaches, and the vast majority of a dental class do not place into residences in the more lucrative specialties.) So consider the most likely outcome of pursuing that path as well. You’ll spend 3 fold in debt and 2 fold in training time just to potentially make less than your average experienced AA. AA new grads are making 180k W2s for 40 hour work weeks with ease. 200k is doable fresh out of school in the right areas. AAs making 230-250k W2s 5-7 years out of school is not unheard of at all. The ROI is amazing for a masters degree if you can stomach the geographical restriction.

But also to those who ask this question with the belief of “I’m indifferent about what comes with practicing either of these professions. They’re both fine, so let’s focus solely on the finances”. Really? Are you really that indifferent about what entails with treating your patient base in each of these fields? Under the umbrella of healthcare, The day to days of these two professions could not be more different. Finances should be a important factor when making any career decision, but not the only one.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
CAA is only recognized in certain states if I'm not mistaken. Please correct me if I am wrong. I think you have more opportunity in dentistry..just my .02.
CAA is only recognized in certain states if I'm not mistaken. Please correct me if I am wrong. I think you have more opportunity in dentistry..just my .02.
You’re not wrong on both accounts.

I just think there’s a legitimate case to be made for the CAA pathway when comparing these two that I thought I would introduce in this thread.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users