To be a dentist training is essential. Following 5 good results at GCSE level and 3 A Levels (preferably in scientific subjects) the training moves on to dental school, either at a university or an alternative higher education institution.
The dental school will support individuals over a 5 year period as they work towards the completion of a degree in dental surgery. If the A levels held by an applicant are not science based, there is the possibility to undertake a 12 month pre-dental programme.
There is the possibility of a graduate undertaking an accelerated 4 year degree course to be a dentist, if the degree they currently hold is predominantly biology, chemistry or bio-science based.
As well as GCSE and A level qualifications, more and more universities are requesting candidates undertake the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) as part of their application to become a dentist.
This test is used by universities and other institutions in to ensure the best candidates are enrolled on medical and dental degree programmes.
Following the degree course and individual would be required to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) before embarking on a period of supervised employment within a fully established clinic or hospital.
Once qualified and registered, the opportunities for a dentist are exciting and varied with positions available for dental surgeons within a general practice, a mobile community post and even a hospital environment where the dental surgeon can specialise further into facial abnormalities and jaw reconstruction.
The armed forces even have their own dental surgeons. Salaries for a dental surgeon a rewarding and can increase with additional training and focus on a specialist area or movement into a private firm or trust.