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Pay and cost of living data: HDS training posts across the UK

We have calculated the cost of living in the major cities mapped to potential earnings, to help you make an informed decision about where to apply for your Hospital Dental Service training.

​Competition for places for DCT is often fierce, particularly for posts in London and the South East, so we have investigated the data to compare the cost of living in different parts of the UK, compared to pay levels, to help you decide what is the best strategy for you when ranking your choices.

Background: applying for HDS training

Hospital trainees undertake an identical route to specialty qualification across the UK, however, rates of pay are different in all four countries. This is particularly important to consider as HDS training posts are now recruited into through a national programme.




The first step into HDS training is to undertake a Dental Core Training or Senior Dental House Officer post we have collectively titled these posts 'HDS1' here. As all these posts require satisfactory completion of FD/VT to enter, for most posts you can expect an increase in your pay.

Northern Ireland does not currently recognise FD/VT as relevant to HDS trainee pay, hence the significant pay decrease to enter an HDS post in Northern Ireland.

Outside of posts in Northern Ireland, if you do not receive a pay increase when starting an HDS training job, please contact us immediately and we can help support you.


Cost of living factors versus pay



Pay levels for a first training post in the HDS in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can differ by up to £5K per year, but our analysis of the data suggests that taking into account the cost of living is also significant, as this can affect how much money you have to actually live on.

We have highlighted the cost living in 13 of the major cities across the UK and applied it to the total earnings an average trainee will receive over their seven-year training period, to calculate your potential local 'purchasing power'.

The overall amount of pay received is an important consideration but considering the locational cost of living may also be an important factor when making your decision.

If the location that pays the most has the highest living costs then some, or possibly all, of your extra pay will be negated - the chart above will help you compare the cost of living to pay rates, depending on location.

For instance, if a pair of loupes are £1000 then a trainee in London could buy, from a London supplier, 316 of them over the course of their seven-year training tenure. However, the same trainee, if working in Sheffield instead would receive the same £316,245 as their London colleague, but, with that income, could purchase 392 pairs of identical loupes from a Sheffield supplier.

We advise you to take in a range of factors when making your decision on ranking your places and think about what the right option for you is.

How did we make our calculations?

We've collected data on the rise in salary from Foundation to first HDS posts and the seven-year (Core training to St5 - post-CST training) career pathways for HDS trainees in each country, and the current remuneration for those posts.

We have based our calculations on the most recent figures available to us from the various NHS websites alongside our assumptions of what career progression should look like.

It may be the case that some candidates progress at different rates and it is almost certain that the pay scales will not remain static for seven years. Please note – our figures are essentially a guide as to the pattern your earnings will likely take, not a definitive prediction of what you will receive over those seven years.

The usual pathway for HDS trainees to progress is to complete two years of post-FD/VT but pre-specialty training, followed by five years of specialty training. The completion of which will see you ready to apply for consultant posts in your chosen specialty. We have calculated the overall pay for this seven-year training period.

To make these calculations we have assumed that candidates progress though their posts in a linear way and meet all requirements in a timely fashion and we've approximated pay over a seven-year period for working in each of the countries.

More information

Find information on the pros and cons of DCT on our website and read our blogs from DCTs, on what it's like to do DCT and the issues we are campaigning on for the Hospital Dental Service.

Working for you: representing hospital dentists

Dentists working in hospitals throughout the UK are supported by the Central Committee for Hospital Dental Services (CCHDS) and the Hospital Dentists Group.

CCHDS represents hospital dental staff, and works with the British Medical Association (BMA), who negotiate on terms and conditions for medical hospital staff. 

The Hospital Dentists Group offers high-quality CPD for dentists working in hospitals, runs study days, events and courses, and provides opportunities for networking.

We support dentists in all fields of practice and we aim to improve the terms and conditions and careers, for hospital dentists working across the UK – read our blogs for the latest updates for hospital dentists.

With each new member, our voice and our influence grows. Add your voice, join today.