Professional Advancement Program Overview

What is the Professional Advancement Program?

Dentist and specialist members may take advantage of the Professional Advancement Program which promotes lifelong learning and continued educational development. The Professional Advancement Program has four progressive ranks which correspond to membership status: Associate, Active, Fellow, and Diplomate. Certificates of achievement are granted to candidates for each new tier. IAO membership is required to participate in the Professional Advancement Program.

How are Membership Levels Determined?

Membership levels are determined by the number of continuing education hours on record with the Continuing Education Course Recording Program (all levels), successful presentation of completed orthodontic cases (Fellow, Diplomate), and passing both the written and clinical components of the rigorous IBO Diplomate Exam (Diplomate).

What Types of Continuing Education hours are Accepted for Professional Advancement?

CE hours may be submitted for Professional Advancement that educate on any orthodontic philosophy or closely related subjects. Some examples of related subjects are functional orthodontics, straight-wire mechanics, sleep medicine, and TMD.

What Are The Specific Requirements For Each Membership Level?


Associate is the first membership level of the Professional Advancement Program. All dentist members are Associates when they enter the IAO.


Active is the second membership level of the Professional Advancement Program. To apply for Active, members must submit a minimum of 150 hours of orthodontic or related education to Headquarters, the Active Professional Advancement Application and an application fee of US $30.00.


Fellow is the third membership level of the Professional Advancement Program. Clinical case presentations are required for this Membership level. To apply for Fellow, applicants must submit the Fellow Professional Advancement Application, an application fee of US $45.00, and documentation for a minimum of 300 hours of CE to Headquarters. Applicants are also required to present five (5) successfully completed orthodontic cases to IAO Education Committee Examiners.

It is highly recommended that at least one (1) case be presented for examination to an IAO Education Committee Examiner for review and guidance, prior to completing the remaining four (4) cases for Fellow status. Contact Headquarters for further information or go to the IBO Diplomate page for case structure and requirements.


This board recognized status is given to the IAO member who has submitted documentation for at least 500 CE hours, has achieved all prior membership levels, has passed the written examination for Diplomate Status, and has successfully presented 10 completed cases (five of which must be two years post active treatment). More information about case preparation for the exam, and other questions about the exam, and the application, can be found on the IBO Diplomate page.

Caseworx Case Submission Software

It is now possible to submit Fellow and Diplomate cases for review online using Caseworx case submission software. Caseworx software is available for free to members. Please login and visit the Caseworx page to learn more or to download the software.

Why Orthodontic Training For General Practitioner Dentists Is Important

There are many benefits to choosing a dentist who can also provide orthodontic treatments. A dentist trained in orthodontics will be able to identify treatment needs first. This can have a cascade of effects. Treating an orthodontic condition sooner can increase effectiveness, lower cost, and reduce treatment time. So, finding a dentist that can provide these services is critical to you and your family’s oral health.

To find the best provider, one must understand the education process. Dentists attend a credentialed dental school. However, they do not have to move on to a specialty to practice in orthodontics. Instead, they can receive education through certified providers.

Learning orthodontics through chosen providers after entering the dental industry can be a preferred method. As with all medical fields, technology is constantly advancing the practice. Orthodontics is no different. Being able to choose certified education providers makes it easier for dentists to grow with new advancements in the field. They can choose to focus on the techniques that show the best results, with lower costs, and reduced treatment times.

How can one properly evaluate a dentist that provides orthodontic treatment? Taking their Continuing Education (CE), professional advancement, and orthodontic affiliations into account is crucial. A dentist must receive so many hours of CE per year to keep their license. This is so that the licensing board can verify that the dentist is keeping up with the latest advancements.

Inquiring about their credits is an excellent first step. More importantly, a prospective patient should review their certificates. International Association for Orthodonitcs (IAO) members can participate in the Professional Advancement program. For each tier they successfully navigate, they will receive a certificate. The requirements for each level are listed to the left.

Another critical aspect is their dedication to the profession. IAO members join the association to increase their knowledge, better their skills and learn about the latest advancements in the field of orthodontics. Their affiliation is proof of dedication. The IAO backs every member in their Professional Advancement quest. The association provides the certification process, educational opportunities, and publications with information on the latest from the orthodontic field.

Continuing Education Credits Course Recording Program

To help IAO Members keep current, complete records of orthodontic continuing education (CE) achieved, the IAO has developed the CE Course Recording Program. Members may submit relevant data about earned CE (Course topics, instructor, dates, etc.) at any time. It is possible to submit CE credits earned prior to joining the IAO. CE records are maintained indefinitely.

How do I Submit CE records?

CE record information may be submitted in two ways:

  • Online Submission. CE information may be submitted online on the CE Submission Page in the Members Only Section
  • Paper Form Submission. CE information may also be submitted using the paper Course Recording Forms which can be requested from IAO Headquarters.

A summary report of member CE accounts is sent quarterly to IAO membership. Members can download a transcript at any time by logging into the Members Only section or requesting a copy from IAO headquarters. CE records are digital maintained by IAO headquarters indefinitely. Many members use this service as a convenient way to keep track of the accumulated CE credits throughout their career.

Upcoming Continuing Education Opportunities

For a list of upcoming CE opportunities that may be used for Professional Advancement please visit our Events page.