Most new dentists I speak with ask about compensation rather quickly in our conversations. While I don’t recommend bringing up this topic immediately in your interviews, compensation is an important point to discuss when exploring various opportunities.
Compensation offers do vary from place to place. When talking to other doctors, sales reps, or recruiters, ask what they are seeing in your areas of interest. Various factors affect what practices are willing to offer in their compensation packages: number of dentists in the area looking for jobs (supply and demand), particular skills or experience levels desired by the practice, whether or not the office fee for service or HMO/Medicaid driven, and how badly the office needs the position filled.
As a new doctor, you should be able to find an opportunity where you can make about $120K your first year. A common example of a compensation package is $500 per day guarantee or 30% of collections (whichever is greater). The usual first year production expectation is about $300K to $500K.
There are a lot of great paying opportunities out there. Pay attention to what other job seekers are talking about. You will need some point of reference in order to determine if you are getting a fair offer.
There is a great survey conducted by Dental Economics each year on this topic. It takes a look at the size of local practices, productions, and compensations. You can find the 2009 Annual Practice Survey here.