For the most part, Commissioned Corps officers enjoy the same benefits as their counterparts in their sister uniformed services.
Total compensation varies depending on factors such as education and training, professional experience, and geographic location of assignment. While it is somewhat difficult to compare your take-home pay with someone in the private sector, your base pay, coupled with a generous assortment of nontaxable income and benefits, provides a very competitive compensation package that grows with years of service and promotions. Additionally, dentists in private practice are responsible for a number of expenses that are not incurred by those serving in the Commissioned Corps. Refer to the table below to view the expenses as a percentage of gross billings and as an annual dollar figure. The data is based on a 2009 American Dental Association survey of independent dentists (dentists who own or share in the ownership of a dental practice).
|Expenses of Operating a Private Practice 1
|Private Practice Expense
||As a Percentage of Gross Billings
||Mean (Annual Figure)
|Non-Dentist Staff Salaries
|Employed Dentist Salaries
|Employee Taxes for Dentists and Non-Dentists
|Commercial Dental Laboratory Charges
|Total Cost of Fringe Benefits for Dentists
|Total Cost of Fringe Benefits for Non-Dentists
|Annual Depreciation Costs on Dental and Office Equipment
|Taxes on Business and Business Property
|Repairs of Dental or Office Equipment
|Insurance Related to the Dental Office (liability, fire, etc.)
|Professional Liability Insurance Premiums
Please use the USPHS Pay Calculator and the pay table examples provided by the Indian Health Service to further forecast your total compensation as a dental officer. Note that the USPHS Pay Calculator requires you to include your estimated grade/rank within the Commissioned Corps. Rank is determined by training, education, and your professional experience.
- Starting Base Pay: This is your competitive starting pay that increases with promotions and years of service.
- Accession Bonuses (Signing Bonus): Reporting dentists receive $37,500 to start and $37,500 at the 25th month for a total of $75,000 with a four-year agreement. Read more about the signing bonus for dentists.
- Variable Special Pay (VSP): Paid monthly, this special pay ranges from $3,000 to $12,000 annually based on years of creditable service.
- Board Certified Pay (BCP): Paid monthly for dental specialists this pay ranges from $2,500 to $6,000 annually based on years of creditable service.
- Additional Special Pay (ASP): Based on a one-year contract with annual pay ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 based on years of creditable service.
- Multiyear Retention Bonus (MRB): For board eligible specialists or advanced general practice residents (AGPR), depending on the dental officer's specialty training and length of new contracts: The MRB bonus ranges from $8,000 to $50,000. All contractual bonuses are lump sum payments. ASP and MRB are paid in annual installments and all special pays are taxable income.
USPHS understands the financial burden of an education and, in coordination with certain Federal agencies, may offer loan repayment and other educational and family support programs. The Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) offers loan repayment to health professionals who are willing to commit to an initial two-year service obligation while working in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities. More information is available on the PHS Student Opportunities and Training page or via the IHS LRP Web site.
Officers in the Commissioned Corps have opportunities for mobility among government agencies and career advancement in diverse work settings. The Corps encourages you to expand your knowledge base and grow professionally so that you can effectively deal with the challenges of improving public health.
In addition, as a Commissioned Corps officer you may have access to the educational benefits provided in the Post-9/11 GI Bill if you have not used the bill previously. After 90 days of active duty service, you are eligible to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill. For more information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, visit the Veterans Affairs Web site.
As a Commissioned officer, you and your family are automatically covered by a comprehensive health care plan called TRICARE that provides medical and dental care at little or no cost. This becomes active on your first day of service. Visit TRICARE Benefits At-a-Glance to view the nine different health plan options offered through TRICARE. Your health care benefits include:
Long-Term Care and Disability Insurance
Commissioned Corps officers are eligible for:
- Low-cost life insurance
- TRICARE For Life – TRICARE’s Medicare-wraparound coverage available to all Medicare-eligible TRICARE beneficiaries upon retirement from the Corps
- Veterans Affairs benefits, such as survivor and disability benefits, home loans, and burial allowances
Work/life balance is an important component of serving in the Commissioned Corps. Officers receive:
- Thirty days of paid vacation per year – beginning the first year
- Paid Federal holidays (depending on assignment)
- Paid sick leave
- Paid maternity leave
- Clinical practice liability coverage (estimated at a $4,570 value )
- Tax-free housing (Basic Allowance for Housing), and meal allowances (Basic Allowance for Substinence)
- If you claim residency in a state that does not impose income tax (Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming) at the time of your call to active duty, you will not be subject to the state income tax regardless of where you are stationed. If you are assigned to active duty in one of these states, you can establish residency in that state for the rest of your uniformed service career.
- A retirement pension plan (determined by an average of 50 percent of your three highest years of base pay) with benefits eligibility beginning after 20 years of service. Each additional year of service garners 2.5 percent.
- Thrift Savings Plan [retirement savings and investment plan similar to a 401(k)]
- Financial support for education through the Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Paid relocation when you join the Corps and relocation expenses when relocating between positions afforded by the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR)
- Relocation expenses to your home of record (or a shorter distance) upon retirement or separation
- Paid expenses for travel related to your job
- Access to military base lodging and “morale, welfare, and recreational” facilities (e.g. MWR Navy or MWR Army)content
- Shopping privileges at military base grocery and department stores (e.g. AAFES and NEX)
- Space Available flights for you and your family domestically and internationally
- Access to exclusive insurance and banking products targeting the needs of active duty officers
- A host of VA benefits such as the VA Loan Guaranty Home Loan Program, VA Disability benefits, Group Life Insurance, and VA Survival and Death benefits
1 American Dental Association, 2009 Survey of Dental Practice: Annual Expenses of Operating a Private Practice, August 2010.
2 American Dental Association, 2009 Survey of Dental Practice: Annual Expenses of Operating a Private Practice, August 2010.