How to Become an

Oral Surgeon

The complete career guide to be an Oral Surgeon: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $233,900
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 17.6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Oral surgeons treat diseases, defects and injuries through surgery on the maxillofacial and oral areas. They also preform cosmetic surgery to alter or improve appearance or function of a patients teeth.

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What is an Oral Surgeon?

The following are common responsibilities are common for Oral Surgeons:

  • Interviews patients to identify the issues and problems that need corrected
  • Preforms examinations and make diagnosis
  • Prescribes treatment plans for patients
  • Preforms surgical procedures on the teeth, mouth, tongue and jaw
  • Consults and assists orthodontists and dentists on various oral surgeries

A Day In The Life

Oral surgeons preform surgeries and related procedures on the hard and soft tissues of the mouth to treat disease, illness, defects or injuries.  They help patients manage disease in and surrounding their teeth.  They also restructure the bones to correct congenital birth defects or repair wounds and injuries and deformities and parts of the mouth, jaw or face.

They also extract teeth that have become impacted, infected or damaged.  They do this by preforming orthodontic surgery as well as possible preprosthetic surgery to prepare the patient for implants and dentures.  Removal of gum tissue or implanting bone grafts may also be required.  Some grafts are designed to repair damaged bone structure to the jaw, sinus and orbital bones of the face.

Typical Work Schedule

Oral surgeons often follow varying work schedules depending on the scheduled surgeries and the schedule of the workplace. Some may follow the regular 40-50 hours working schedule whether in a private practice office or other care centers. Others will work on evenings and weekends to meet their patients’ needs. They should also be available on call since they sometimes have to interfere in urgent situation when an accident involves the facial bones for example. You may also need to work for longer hours to compensate for an absent colleague. Accordingly, you should be flexible regarding your working schedule based on the needs of your clients.

Projected Job Growth

There are currently around 9,000 oral and maxillofacial surgeons working in the country. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of oral surgeons is expected to grow by at least 2% from 2019 to 2029 which is less than the average for all other occupations. This indicates that there is increasing competition in the job market and it may become more challenging to find a suitable vacancy in this career. Recently, there has been a demand for promoting good oral hygiene as recent research shows its link to overall health. As the populations in general ages with more old people keeping their teeth unlike previous generations, more problems will arise that require complicated dental services and even surgical interventions. Such problems include increased risk of oral cancer which requires advanced dental skills for reconstruction, improving function and appearance or other interventions. This increased demand however will also be matched the large number of fresh graduates in this field. The competition is expected to be stronger in places where sufficient number of oral surgeons already exist.

Typical Employers 

Oral surgeons can work in medical care centers, general medical and surgical hospitals. Some prefer to work privately whether individually or with a partner, establishing their own offices where they can continue their practices with more flexibility. However, it is more challenging to run your own business as surgeries require more advanced equipment and strictly sterile conditions. Oral surgeons can also work for colleges, universities and professional schools. Some may prefer to work with outpatient care centers.

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How To Become an Oral Surgeon

A great surgeon is required to have excellent hand-eye coordination, steady nerves and the ability to focus on detail.  Oral surgeon operate on the most important part of the human body, the face.  A persons most important and recognizable features are on their face, therefore the surgeon must be meticulous.

Becoming an oral surgeon requires two years of predental education in college.  An undergraduate degree in a related subject like biology or chemistry is recommended.  There is significant competition for admission into dental schools.  Things like grades, professor recommendations, and students performance on testing are all taken into consideration.

Following a successful completion of medical school, the individual must complete a four to six year surgical residency.  Finally the individual must then complete their licensing requirements to be able to practice medicine.  The licenses are issued and have different requirements depending on the state the individual is located.

Oral Surgeon Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Oral Surgeon salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Oral Surgeon's can make an average annual salary of $233,900, or $112 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $176,900 or $85 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #3 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Oral Surgeons

  • 95.5%   Doctorate
  • 2.1%   Masters
  • 1.7%   Bachelors
  • 0.3%   Associates
  • 0%   College
  • 0.3%   High School
  • 0.2%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Oral Surgeon job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 1,200 jobs for a total of 8,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 17.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #76 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Oral Surgeons

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Offices of dentists 4,700 800 1%
Self-employed workers 1,600 200 0%
Offices of physicians 300 --- 0%

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