What Qualifications Are Needed to Become a Dentist?

Updated March 23, 2017

Many dentists take up to eight years to complete their education before moving into the workforce. Even with years of education, many dentists continue their education long into their careers. With speciality fields such as orthodontists and prosthodontists, many dentists take much longer than eight years to gain all of the knowledge needed for their speciality.

Undergraduate Education

Before applying to dental programs, candidates must complete, at minimum, two years of undergraduate study. Candidates often major in biology, chemistry or health-related fields for their undergraduate degrees.

Admissions to Dental School

Dental schools require candidates to pass a Dental Admissions Test (DAT) before acceptance into their program.

Dental School

With four-year programs, dental school students work in the classroom, laboratory and, for the last two years, with patients. With a balance of textbook and hands-on experience, they are often ready for their licensing upon graduation.


After graduation, most states require dentists to pass a written and practical examination before they are able to practice dentistry.

Other Skills

Other than the educational requirements, dentists must have near perfect manual dexterity and a good visual memory. Other skills such as spatial judgment and the abilities to recall and diagnose are also important.

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About the Author

Bridget Everett is a professional Web copywriter. She specializes in several niches including travel, education, parenting, business, marketing, health, crafts, fashion and home decorating. Everett has studied marketing, elementary education and journalism at Northeastern University, Fordham University and Middle Tennessee State University.