The qualifications to be a dentist take in excess of 5 years of university education plus additional vocational training to complete. However, once an individual holds the BChd, BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) or MChd (Master of Dental Surgery) qualification and is registered with the General Dentistry Council, the salary expectations can be well in excess of £100,000.
To be a successful applicant for the 5 year degree course at a dental school, an individual should hold 5 good grades at GCSE level as well as 3 A levels, 2 of which should be science.
Scottish equivalent qualifications are also accepted, as are A/S level qualifications in some cases.
For an applicant without science based A levels there is the opportunity to embark on a 12 month pre-dental course. It is worth noting that approximately 50 per cent of universities and dental schools now require applicants to take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT).
The UKCAT assists a university or other tertiary education institution in their selection process for candidates. More and more institutions are adding the completion of the UKCAT to the entry requirements required to embark on a medical or dental degree course.
At the end of the degree course a 12 month period of supervised employment, during which time the individual is referred to as a vocational dental practitioner (VDP).
As there can be variances from one institution to another, it is important to contact them directly prior to application to investigate their required qualifications to be a dentist. Following the formal and vocational training the individual should register with the GDC – The General Dentistry Council who will award a Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training (CCST), thus allowing the individual to be registered for employment within the UK.
Additional training is available for the qualified dentist to specialise in further areas and to add new practices and the use of new technologies to their repertoire.