Dental Hygienist Salary Guide [Career & Salary 2021]

The mean annual wage for dental hygienists was $68,680, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dental Hygienist Salary Guide in Detail..

Dental Hygienist Job Description

Dental hygienists work flexible schedules in dental offices:

  • cleaning teeth and inspecting the neck, head, and oral area of the patient for indicators of oral disease.
  • They may take dental x-rays, apply fluoride and sealant, and perform root planing.
  • Hygienists use tooth models to educated patients regarding proper oral hygiene.
  • They review and record the medical history of a patient and chart disease and decay for a diagnosis and recommended treatment from a dentist.

Dental Hygienist Salary Statistics

  • The lowest ten percent of earners made an average of $45,000 annually
  • The middle 50 percent had a $68,250 average annual wage
  • The highest ten percent of people working as dental hygienists earned an average of $93,820 annually.

Dental Hygienist Salaries by State

Hover over your state to find out what the average pay is like…

  • Alaska was the highest paying state, with a mean annual wage of $90,740.
  • California came in close behind it and Washington state, the District of Columbia, and Nevada completed the top five list, each paying an annual mean wage exceeding $83,000.
  • The lowest paying states offered an annual mean wage of between $31,400 and $57,270. Included in this list were Kentucky, North and South Dakota, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia.

As one would expect, dental offices had the highest employment levels for dental hygienists. Physician offices, employment services, outpatient care centers, and general surgical and medical hospitals are other industries that employed substantial numbers of dental hygienists.

Dental Hygienist Job Outlook

2008 – 2018 Projected Employment Changes 62,900 new dental hygienist jobs 36% increase in employment

Dental hygienist is one of the fastest growing occupations, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is expected to grow 36% from 2008 through 2018.

This rate is much faster than the average for all occupations and job prospects are anticipated to be favorable, though competition is likely within some areas. California has the highest level of employment, employing 18,050 dental hygienists as of May 2010. Other states with high employment levels are Texas, New York, Florida, and Michigan.

Dental Hygienist Education & Training

To practice as a dental hygienist, an individual usually must possess a degree from an accredited school of dental hygiene and a state license.

Admission to the educational program is often contingent on the possession of a high school diploma and satisfactory scores on a college entrance exam. Additional entrance requirements vary by program and include the previous completion of one year of college.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation accredited 301 dental hygiene programs Occupational information program O*Net surveyed a segment of dental hygienists and discovered that:

  • 67% of them possessed an associate’s degree
  • 31% had a bachelor’s degree,
  • 2% held a professional or doctoral degree.

The recognized minimum education to work in a private dental office is a certificate in dental hygiene or an associate degree. In order to teach, conduct research, or perform clinical practice in school or public health programs, a bachelor’s or master’s degree is often required. Dental hygiene programs include classroom, clinical, and laboratory instruction.

A dental hygienist must be licensed in the state of practice. Both written and clinical exams are required by nearly every state. The written exam is administered by the American Dental Association Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. In lieu of this, Alabama requires candidates to meet Alabama Dental Hygiene Program requirements that include course work, on-the-job training, and a passing score on a licensing examination administered by the state. The clinical exam required by most states is administered by regional or state testing agencies. Most states also require that candidates pass an examination regarding the legal aspects of dental hygiene practice.

Dental Hygienist Related Occupations

Several other careers involve supporting healthcare practitioners within an office setting.

  • Dental assistants perform office, patient care, and lab duties like updating patient dental records, preparing and laying out instruments, and processing x-rays.
  • Medical assistants have clinical and administrative responsibilities that make physician and specialist offices run smoothly.
  • Physical therapy assistants provide assistance to physical therapists involved in patient care.
  • Surgical technologists offer assistance with surgical operations under supervision of registered nurses, surgeons, or other surgical staff.
  • Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists with the preparation of prescription medicine and also perform administrative and customer service duties.

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