Becoming a dental associate is the first step toward a career in dentistry, as well as many young dentists’ first self-employment experience.  Here are some essential tips for dental associates wanting to manage their money:

Register as self-employed

Within three months of starting self-employed work you should register yourself as self-employed with HMRC. That way, you can be sure you’ll pay the correct amount of tax and National Insurance.


Self-employed people complete and submit their tax returns to HMRC each year. The financial year runs from April to April, although the deadline to complete the form is not till the following January. 

We would advise you to make sure you have about 30% of your income available for this purpose and some money put aside for National Insurance contributions and any student loan repayments you need to make. 

Getting an accountant

Getting an accountant is a great way to focus on your day-to-day work while someone else looks after your business and tax concerns for you.  

They can ensure you comply with your legal duties, submit your annual tax return accurately and on time and prepare your accounts. If you keep your receipts and records of the expenditure, an accountant can advise you how to offset these against any tax you pay. 

Managing your finances

Opening a business bank account is a solid first step in becoming a dental associate. This means you can keep your living expenses and business expenses separate, which will help when it comes to completing your taxes. 

If you’re hoping to get on the property ladder, most mortgage lenders require two years of accounts from your time in self-employment. An accountant can help you with this. It’s also worth looking at a Help-to-Buy Individual Savings Account (ISA) to save on your deposit.  We recommend ISAs as a valuable way to keep your money without paying or having to declare tax on any interest you receive. 

At some point, you might want to consider investing in stocks and shares. These can be a great way of increasing your capital. They also have the advantage that any income made from them is tax-free. 

It’s worth thinking carefully before investing in the stock market as values can fall and rise, meaning you could lose out. We’d strongly recommend you discuss any investments with an accountant or independent financial adviser before making them. 

If you already have an income protection policy, an accountant will be able to look that over to ensure you’re getting the best cover.

Should you buy a practice? 

For many dental associates, the ultimate goal is buying a practice of your own. This can be an exciting step, but it is well worth getting professional advice before making your decision. 

We can advise you on:

  • how much the practice is worth
  • what exactly are you buying – the company as a whole, including its share capital, or the assets it holds.

What needs to be in the Sale and Purchase Agreement

And finally. If you’re planning to raise finance to meet the cost of the purchase, we can prepare financial projections for the next three years to see if your expected funds meet the lender’s requirements.

We’d love to discuss any of the above with you. Contact us and we can talk you through all you need to know when starting your career as a dental associate.