Who Is A Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is someone:
- licensed to perform select dental procedures
- registered with a dental association or regulatory body
- trained and educated on the prevention and treatment of dental problems
- who work alone or alongside a dentist or other dental professionals
At present, more than 240,000 people in the United States work as dental hygienists. Out of that number, over 194,000 practice dental hygiene in dental offices. The remaining dental hygienists work at physicians’ offices, employment services, outpatient care centers, and the federal executive branch, among others.
What Does It Take To Be A Dental Hygienist?
Step #1: Education
Like other healthcare professions, aspiring hygienists need to undergo education and training before practicing dental hygiene. In the United Schools, more than 330 dental hygiene programs are offered.
A person wanting to work as a hygienists need to complete an associate degree. Although not required, others take their education to the next level by getting a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in dental hygiene.
Step #2: Licensure Examination
To legally practice dental hygiene, a dental hygienist needs to take a licensure examination in the state he or she wishes to practice in. Requirements differs from one state to another, but most state-specific license requires completing an accredited program and passing a written and practical examination.
Step #3: Continuing Education
Like dentists, dental hygienists need to undergo hours of continuing education courses to renew their license.
How Does A Career As A Dental Hygienist Look?
There is a promising outlook for a career in dental hygiene. Ranking first among healthcare support jobs and 17th among 100 jobs, being a dental hygienist is promising and considered one of the best jobs in the United States. It got an average score of 7.4 out of ten based on five component measures — salary, work-life balance, stress, future growth, and job market.
In terms of unemployment rate, a career in dental hygiene boasts low unemployment rate with less than one percent. Moreover, the profession will expect a 20 percent growth in 2026 — a lot faster than the average growth rate of other professions. By 2026, more than 40,000 jobs will open for people aspiring to be a hygienist.
The con of working as a hygienist lies on the below average opportunity for advancement. Still, the average level of stress and high rating for work-life balance make up for it.
How Much Does A Career In Dental Hygiene Pay?
In comparison to other healthcare support jobs, a career in dental hygiene gives a comfortable salary with an annual average of 72,910 USD. At its highest, the salary for a dental hygienist amounts to 100,170 USD. At its lowest, the salary remains higher than the average annual salary of dental assistant and clinical laboratory technician.
While the average pay of a dental assistant amounts to 37,890 USD and a clinical laboratory technician amounts to 41,700 USD, a dental hygienist, at the lowest, earns 50,870 USD in a year.