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After you’ve spent numerous years in college, passed your exams, and then interned in your chosen profession, your eyes will likely open, and the doubt will set in.

However, your doubts and frustration may likely result because of the state you elected to practice in. Most states are “professional friendly,” but not all of them. For this reason, we’ll drill down into the worst and best states to be a Dentist, Doctor, or Lawyer.

Worst and Best States to be a Dentist

Whether you’re still studying to become a dentist, opening up your first practice, or you’ve been patching up cavities for years now, we have some good news for you – you’ve picked a great profession! U.S. News recently ranked dentistry as the No. 1 profession in the country.

With dentists earning some of the top salaries in the medical field and reporting above-average job satisfaction, it’s easy to see why. But true as this might be for the average dentist, not all of them are finding it quite so easy, and the reason might be as simple as location.

Due to factors like cost of living, confidence in the economy, and availability of affordable insurance in certain areas, some states and regions are better for working dentists than others. Earlier this year the Dental Products Report (DPR) ranked all 50 states to determine the worst and best states to be a dentist.

To do this, they looked at 10 overall factors, including median income, education level of patients, overall well-being, and the percentage of the population who visited the dentist within the past year. Some of the results were quite surprising.

The Best

We’ll start with the good news first. According to the DPR, the very best state to practice dentistry is, you guessed it, Minnesota! OK maybe you didn’t guess it, but it’s true. With strong economic confidence, an extremely low rate of uninsured residents (7.4 percent), and 75 percent of the population reporting that they’d visited the dentist in the past year, the North Star State might just be America’s dental paradise.

 Coming in at a close second is Iowa. While Minnesota boasts a higher median income than Iowa, the Hawkeye State actually has an even lower rate of uninsured residents. That, plus a relatively high education level, makes it a great place to practice dentistry.

With an even lower rate of uninsured residents (only 6 percent), the number three spot goes to Hawaii (as if you really needed another reason to go to Hawaii). Nebraska’s low cost of living and high economic confidence earned it the number four spot, while above-average median incomes put Virginia at number five.

The Worst

Now for the bottom five. The wavin’ wheat might smell sweet in Oklahoma, but ranked at number 45, with an extremely high rate of uninsured residents (a whopping 47 percent to be exact), the Sooner State might not be such a sweet place for dentists.

And you might want to think twice before you pack your drill and head down to Graceland because low median incomes and high rates of uninsured residents earned Tennessee the number 46 spot on the DPR’s list. And it doesn’t get much better for the South after that.

West Virginia takes number 47 with its last-place rankings in overall well-being and economic confidence. Arkansas and Mississippi earned the number 48 and 49 rankings with their respective last and second-to-last-place rankings in recent dental visits.

And coming in dead last, with low rankings in just about every category on the list, is Louisiana. But don’t worry Bayou State, you’ve still got Mardi Gras, right?

Best and Worst States to Be a Physician

The medical industry has faced its fair share of uncertainty in recent years. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and a sizable portion of the population getting ready to retire, physicians are becoming more selective with where they choose to practice.

Medical professionals still rank among the top earners in the country, but some states offer more benefits than others. Earning potential, industry competition, and working conditions are among the most important factors for aspiring physicians to consider.

As the cost of medical school tuition continues to soar, recent graduates and young professionals need to tackle the oppressive burden of student debt by securing a profitable location to practice their specific area of medicine.

Financial planning website Wallet Hub recently ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine 2015’s Best and Worst States for Doctors. The study sheds some light on the pros and cons of practicing in each state. The article combined several key factors, based on two categories: Opportunity & Competition and Work Environment.

To determine each state’s opportunities, the study included physicians’ average yearly income and starting salary adjusted for the cost of living, wage disparity, competition (the number of hospitals and practicing doctors per capita), insured population rate, and the percent of the population expected to turn 65 by 2030. For a physician’s working conditions, the study measured the rate at which a state’s medical board imposes disciplinary actions, malpractice award payouts per capita, and the cost of malpractice insurance.

The study collected its information from the Census Bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics among others.

Best States to Be a Physician

The results may surprise you as the top-ranking states varied strongly in size, geographical location, and average income level. Coming in at number one, South Carolina has one of the highest income levels for doctors with a relatively inexpensive cost of living and the least punitive medical board in the country.

At number two, Minnesota has the best work environment for physicians, with some of the least expensive malpractice insurance rates. Texas is at number three with extremely low malpractice payouts.

Fourth goes to Mississippi, offering some of the highest annual wages for doctors. Finishing in fifth, Kansas boasts equally competitive earning potential with a relatively stress-free work environment.

Worst States to Be a Physician

On the opposite end, Rhode Island comes in dead last with the second-highest rate of physicians per capita. Next to last went to New Jersey with one of the highest malpractice insurance premiums in the country.

Rounding out the bottom five are Oregon, New York, and Maine, each with low earning potential and high competition. If Wallet Hub’s study has shown us anything, it’s that incentives for practicing doctors vary to the extreme from state to state.

What about Lawyers?

The legal industry is one that is ever-changing, and lawyers today must evolve along with the industry. It is true that attorneys are still some of the top earners in the country. However, not all states offer the same benefits, and some states offer more benefits than others.

Earning potential, working conditions, and industry competition are just a few of the important factors for aspiring attorneys to consider.

In addition, the costs of legal professional education tuition continue to skyrocket, and recent graduates and young professionals must overcome sizable student debt by securing a profitable location in which to practice law as a professional.

 A law degree may not be the golden ticket it used to be in many states, and the gap separating those who earn the most and those who earn the least is widening.

 In general, the country is producing many more lawyers than there are open positions, creating a struggle for new attorneys to find and fill an opening.

Best States for Earnings as a Lawyer

According to a report by The Huffington Post, on average there is a lawyer for every 247 Americans. Lawyers who work at large firms charge rates that average about $900/hour, while the lowest-paid attorneys charge about $200/hour.

 As far as income is concerned, Colorado comes in at #10 as the best state for lawyers, followed by Virginia at #9. Georgia and Pennsylvania claim spots 8 and 7, while Illinois, Connecticut, and New York come in at 6, 5, and 4, respectively. 

The top three states for lawyers according to this report are Delaware, coming in at #3, California at #2, and the District of Columbia, clinching the spot as the very best state in which to be a lawyer.

Worst States for Attorneys

At the other end of the spectrum, Forbes just released a report on the worst states for litigation in 2015. This report factored in more than just income and took into account factors such as job openings compared to available professionals, and other work-related benefits. Arkansas comes in as the 10th worst state, followed by Missouri. Mississippi, Florida, and New Mexico ring in at spots 8, 7, and 6, respectively.

Alabama ranked as the 5th worst state, and California, Illinois, and Louisiana follow at ranks 4, 3, and 2. The number one worst state for litigation in the U.S.? West Virginia landed that spot for 2015’s Forbes report.

No matter where you decide to live and work, it’s always important to protect your income with disability insurance. Whether you’re practicing in Minneapolis or Baton Rouge, if illness or injury puts you out of work, disability insurance can provide a valuable safety net to keep you and your family living the lifestyle your occupation has provided for them.

 Talk to a disability insurance specialist today to discuss the occupation-specific benefits that are available to dentists.


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Richard Reich
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