Dentist Makes $13k (at least)


Bernard Siew works for a cosmetic dentistry chain and collects a pay check of at least $13,000.

An Australian working in Singapore, he revealed in the Sunday Times Me & My Money column that he tries to save “as much as half my income”.

The other half is for expenses that include rental, food and transport. He is paying $5,500 rent for his apartment in Holland Village.

Let’s assume conservatively that he spends only $1,000 on food and transport.

This works out to $6,500 for his expenses.

And this means his income is $13,000 a month.

In a separate news, the New Paper reports that a construction crane operator can fetch up to $10,000 a month including overtime pay.

So, do you want to be a dentist or a crane specialist? 🙂


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  1. 😉 haha! Depends how you look at it.. Would you want to risk a dentist earning $2k/month working on your cosmetic dentistry services?

    But wow. $10,000 a month for a construction crane operator.

    I definitely need to work a lot harder..

  2. 13k only? i just went for my dental operation . in just 30 minutes i lost2 teeth and RM600 !!!!!!! I think i will consider of being a dentist now.

  3. I read that article too. Looks like different people have different definition of frugal living. Initially I thought “saving as much as half his income” made him pretty frugal until he mentioned he spent $5.5k on rent.

  4. I see all those articles encouraging Americans to save “at least 10% of your income”, and to start with 100 bucks per month and gradually increase it to 10%. So I guess for this (I’m guessing Western educated) guy, saving 50% of his income is already super duper hyper frugal.

    I think he must have earned a lot more than 13k though. Somebody who spends 5.5k/month just for RENT will certainly spend more than 1k for food and other stuff. Don’t forget booze, entertainment, etc. etc. etc.

  5. I am a student who is pondering over several options. I don’t know what career i want to pursue. Should i be a dentist, an optometrist, or other biomedical related careers? I have decided to take diploma, but i don’t know which to venture into. May i know which is more well earning? Thanks.

  6. Well what are your criteria for “what career I want to pursue”? Are they purely based on how much money the career can potentially earn you?
    Note that you should find out also (1) how much you’ll like it, and (2) how good you’ll be in it.
    If you don’t like it, then you’ll just be miserable day after day. If you’re not good in it, then in the first place you won’t get to the top and you won’t make so much money in the first place.

  7. Hi, thanks for your reply. Currently, it’s much more on how well-earning the jobs are. I will prefer jobs within the chemical and life sciences area.

    Actually, i don’t know how much i will like them or how well i am going to be because i never experience them before.

  8. Try to read up journals about your field. Does it excite you or put you to sleep? Do you honestly feel that you _want_ to read because you’re interested?
    I’ve met a lot “vocational programmers” in IT–those who are in IT only to make a living and just learn the minimum necessary to get by. These are guys who, after 10 years of doing this, will start complaining constantly why they keep being overtaken and passed by younger programmers who have only half their experience.
    They are the ones who, despite being close to 40, are only making as much or less than 25-yr old programmers because they don’t have the drive/inclination/ability.
    They are the ones who go everyday for kopi session for one hour to bitch together about how hard life is treating them and how unfair the world is, unfair, unfair, when they hear about 25-yr old making close to 100k p.a. as an IT dude.
    They are the ones who think that just because they have done mediocre jobs for 10 years suddenly the world owe it to them to raise them above 20something programmers who can do it a lot better than they do.
    Rant aside… what I’m saying is, if reading about dentistry or the latest developments in dentistry puts you to sleep, most probably you won’t be a very good dentist. Gotta love this stuff to make it big. Don’t be like those vocational programmers. Try to find out as much as you can first.

  9. Thanks for your information! It’s useful. I will read up books them. Hmmm another question, what if i end up not being interested in these? How do i find out what i really like to do? Honestly, i don’t know what i like to do.

  10. The thing is, sometimes you won’t know whether you like something or not before you try it. But sometimes you can have a feel by reading the journal/magazines/books, and looking into the life of somebody who has succeeded in the area you’re looking into.
    Since you’ve chosen the general areas of life sciences and chemical, check out the dudes and gals who have made it big in life sciences and chemical. Can you see yourself being them in 10 years? Do you want to be them?
    That’s about the best you can do for now. Sometimes, as you get older, your interest can change. But you don’t know when or what it’ll be sometimes. So that’s fine. It’s better to pick one and decide to dedicate yourself rather than to hesitate and finally pick one that you’re just “OK” with.

  11. Erm one more question.

    May i know if it’s possible to take diploma in optometry and then progressed and further my studies to become an ophthalmologist?

  12. Being a dentist is hard work, it’s quite physically demanding unlike medical GPs. Do respect your dentist!

  13. Umm, you need a medical degree first then lots and lots of hard work (or lots of hard work and some good luck) to get into ophthalmology training.

    So, umm, yes, you could do your diploma, do really well in it, then get into medical school (anything from 5-6 years, undergrad, or about 4 years graduate entry if you have a previous degree, so maybe you’d like to convert your diploma to a B.Optom at a university in Australia or something by doing about 2 more years of study), then a year of internship, about 4 years of unaccredited residency (which is typical in Australia, NZ, UK, not sure about Singapore and the US) the 6 years as a registrar assuming you pass your exams on the 1st go (~40% pass rate).

    Having said that, don’t give up on your dreams and maybe give medicine a go. It’s very diverse and quite rewarding (though not so financially for most areas) and you don’t have to be an ophthalmologist since there are lots of different jobs for you to try and decide what you might like. It’s alot of work though for not great financial rewards, but then you won’t be poor either and you’re not so exposed to economic fluctuations.

    Good luck with your decisions and your future!

  14. dentist.royale on

    lol!! all these sites giving average pay scales and mentioning stories of dentist earnings are crap. I am a dentist and quite a junior one, I can tell u that my boss easily make in excess of AUD 1.2 million net. his gross is beyond imagination. And he is neither the best nor the richest dentist, there are guys we meet in conferences who fly in in their private planes to be at the conference, this how rich a dentist can get. But only if you have your own practice, if u don’t have your own but work on a job you can make upto half a million depending on where u get a job but 5 years after graduation AUD 300,000 pa is quite common. We make more money than cardiosurgeons.but don’t tell anyone shhhhhh!!
    If u are a specialist like an oral surgeon u can charge anything at all, virtually I know a guy who charges AUD 600 per hour nd he tells of people in his association who work all over the world and charge in excess of USD 1500 per hour. Dentistry is a rapidly growing industry, theres more research into it than medicine. 54 % of dentist work 4 days a week only, almost all dentists work at their chosen hours, there are so many exclusive dentist flying clubs, they re so filthy rich.

    But you have to be a businessman more than a dentist, extremely good people skills cos if u make a mistake u have to have the patient’s confidence or ull end up in jail or at least lose ur licence. U also need people skill to keep ur practice growing, theres a lot of competition. U have to keep studying hard all your life, the more the letters behind ur name the more patients you will get. And these letters like FRACDS, FRACS, FRCS, MDS, DDS etc etc are the only way people can know about ur capabilities , u have to be good at school since kindergarten not one bad year, u have to keep reading ur basic books again and again cos every year there are so many changes just like the microchip doubles in power every 18 months. If u do not keep up ur out.
    Suicide rate is the highest among dentists, family life can suffer if u get too carried away with money, cos it comes calling to ur doorstep, its upto you to send it away, most dentists hear so many complaints and unhappiness expressed by their patients that they are fed up. Usually people are unhappy because they feel the cost is too high compared to the job, so they keep whining. They don understand that to be a dentist requires lots of skill, hard work, leadership, management, right attitude, discipline, study, investment, personal sacrifices. A dentist is essentially a surgeon, no dental disease can be treated by meds alone, u have to perform a procedure and you have to have precision of millimeters in each of those multiple procedures,you have to use expensive equipment which wears rapidly, unlike a phsysician’c clinic a dentist has to maintain hospital-like stringent infection control using expensive equipment and disposable barriers, sterilisse the equipment, keep stock, maintain calender of events, oversee each sterilisation cycle, use tracking systems, keep upgrading as and when law changes (which is every year) It is a tough, stressful job but those who love it like me and are ready to deal with its stresses can have a nice life, earn a lot of money and be happy.

  15. Dr Natalia Burak on

    Hi there, I am a dentist. I haven’t had an elaborate lifestyle or made millions. I have a sensible approach to my work- not making people choose elaborate expensive treatments when they can have other options. Sure this is in conflict with the way alot of dentists practice, but I have always been honest and upfront with my patients. You know when we do charge high fees, we work hard for that income. We have expenses that need to be looked after: staff, materials, professional indemnity, registrations and ongoing/updated training or courses. It is stressful, and requires meticulous concentration and attention to detail. I gave up alot of my life making personal decisions to devote time to studying and practicing dentistry- people should be realistic about what they pay a dentist to do. Most importantly, we like it if someone can appreciate what we do.

  16. hi, im a dentist in the philippines. and im planning to apply for any dental job in singapore. and also study… can anyone give me some pointers, what are the advantage and disadvantage.. working in singapore?

  17. Dear 18. dentist.royale,
    I’ve never seen such misleading ill informed BULLSH.. and you actually claim to be a dentist? What a disgrace. Let me tell you, the dentists you are talking about are a 1% minority, the average dentist anywhere in the world will NOT make millions. He or she is well paid but believe me, it’s hard earned money! You will find that out once you start doing some honest decent work instead of posting some immature nonsense. Get real and start thinking what a good dentist is about, if you’re just in it for the money, better look elsewhere where it’s easier made because you will not be happy. How much a dentist earns can vary extremely, depending on where he works, how he works and how much he works. The statistics you can find are pretty accurate and I think it’s YOU my friend that hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about. Have you actually graduated yet ? Get a life…

  18. Thank you, Dr. Dent. I agree with you.
    What is saying is misleading.
    To anyone out there, it is very important that you do not do dentistry for the money.
    When I was in university, I bumped into a medical student and when she found out I was a dental student, she made it a point that she was going to make more money than me. At that moment, I felt sad for every patient she will ever have.
    You will never be rich just being a dentist, but damnit you will be comfortable.
    I had a classmate that gave up 12 years as a commodities broker to be a dentist. He laughed when he heard the medical student’s comments. To put things in perspective, a broker could make in a day what a doctor could make in a year.
    Why did he give that up? To have, for once, a decent night’s sleep.
    My advise to anyone reading, do something that you get excited about. If you have passion, you will succeed. Money will follow sooner or later. If money is your number one goal, then please don’t do dentistry or medicine. You will be disappointed and you will be a liability to your patients.
    Some talk about how being a dentist must be horrible. All that dentist.royale says isn’t wrong but every job has its challenges. To say dentistry is too hard or too easy is a disrespect to all the careers out there.
    Thank goodness money isn’t the number one concern for everyone. If so, we will have 6 billion bankers!

  19. Dentist in Aus on

    I am a dentist with 2 years of experience from Australia thinking of moving to Singapore for a few years. What is the income system for dentists in Singapore?
    Is it fixed salary based and how much is the salary?
    Or, Is it commission based and how much is the commission, and what is the expected net per month ?

    Thank you.

  20. dentist in au
    don’t waste your time in singapore if you are money hungry.
    option one- go and sign up with a locum agency or western australia health and get a locum job where a full time locum dentist can easily make more than A$350-500 k per year.

    option 2 – go and set up a dental surgery in mining towns like Pilbara or Mount Isa, and see your returns in 2 years. your cash register will ring so loudly that you will need ear muffs 😉

  21. Lately there have been much talk about dental fees being exorbitant. The work of dentist is considered small and of little value, not appreciated by public and patients.

    Dentists should not charge low fees. For the kind of risk they face in treating patients, dentists like other health professioanls like doctors, nurses should be better compensated. For the risk of being infected by HIV, HepB etc in the course of their work, denstist and other healthcare workers should not charge low fees. In addition, it is also costly to run a dental clinic–the replacement cost of the equipment and cost of dental materials are ever increasing, and besides the time & effort required for infection control. Dentists should not have any guilt feelings if they have to charge high fees to compensate themselves for the risk in their jobs and to defray the high clinic overheads and replacement cost.

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