Women in Dentistry Series: How Retirement Planning is Different

The unfortunate truth is that female dentists face an uphill battle when preparing for retirement. The challenge starts with the difference in earning potentials. Yes, the gender pay gap is closing but not fast enough. Women in dentistry are making an average of $120,00 per year while male dentists are making an average of $185,000 per year, according to this source. Then add in that women often have greater caregiving responsibilities when it comes to children and aging parents. As you can imagine, this negatively impacts the ability to save for anything, let alone retirement.


In fact, a 2016 study says that nearly half of all women are not confident that they will be able to retire comfortably at any point in their lives. As a dentist, you should be able to enter your golden years feeling sure of your financial situation. It takes some prep work and also a good look at the obstacles that may stand in your way. So what makes retirement planning different for women who are in dentistry?


Women and Retirement

  • Women still make less money than men. Unfortunately, female dentists seem even more vulnerable to pay disparity than the general population. Compared to a male dentist who owns a private practice, a female dentist makes, on average, 34 percent less. Women in other industries make about 22 percent less than their male counterparts.
  • Statistically speaking, women live longer than men, so they need to save more to support their post-retirement goals and healthcare needs.
  • Women are more likely to take off time for caregiving purposes. If you aren’t working at a practice, then you probably aren’t saving for retirement.
  • Women work part-time at higher rates than men. This often means a lower wage and restricts access to employer-sponsored retirement benefits.
  • Fewer women participate in retirement plans offered by employers. Only 76 percent of professional women participate in a 401(k) or similar plan compared to 82 percent of men.
  • Women are saving outside of work-related plans but at a lower rate than men. Reports say that they are putting aside an entire percentage point less than men, which can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in the end.
  • Most women are guessing at the amount needed for retirement. About 80 percent are relying on rough estimates while only three percent have sought the advice of a financial planner. It’s always helpful to use accurate information and talk to an expert when planning for retirement.


If you own your own practice, you face an additional set of challenges. You may overlook saving for retirement in favor of investing in new dental chairs one year and an office expansion the next – this might be great for business but not at the expense of your financial future. The goal is to diversify your interests by putting some money into your practice and by setting aside funds for specific retirement accounts.


When you combine the risks lined up in front of women dentists, the smart move is to create a plan as soon as possible. We can help you at any point in the process. Contact N/L Transitions or call us at 410-453-5500 to discuss your financial future.