A dental hygienist is a licensed healthcare provider who has received a license to perform select dental procedures. As a primary healthcare professional, he or she has registration with a dental association or regulatory body. He or she got training and education on the prevention and treatment of some dental issues. Additionally, he or she can either work alone or alongside a dentist or other dental professionals.
As of May 2016, over 240,000 dental hygienists actively work in the United States based on the data of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the total count, more than 194,000 of them work in dental offices. Aside from dental offices, they also work at employment services, physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers, the federal executive branch, among others.
How Can I Become a Dental Hygienist?
Like most healthcare professions, education and training are a must to work as a hygienist. In the United States, over 330 dental hygiene programs are available.
To be a dental hygienist, one will need an associate degree. Although not necessarily required, some further their education and get a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in dental hygiene. Before practice, they also need to secure a state-specific license. Moreover, they must finish an accredited program and complete a written and practical examination. However, requirements may differ from one state to another.
Also, despite working in the dental field, hygienists who intend to pursue a degree in Dentistry will still need to undergo the same length of education, training, and residency.
How Does a Career in Dental Hygiene Look?
A career in dental hygiene is promising. Being a dental hygienist is one of the best jobs in the country. It ranked first in Healthcare Support Jobs and 17th among 100 jobs. Out of ten, hygienists got an average score of 7.4 in five component measures: salary, job market, future growth, stress, and work-life balance.
It has a low unemployment rate at less than one percent and is expected to grow by 20 percent in 2026. This is a lot faster than the average growth rate of most professions. More than 40,000 jobs are projected to be available for dental hygienists by 2026.
Although opportunities for advancements are below average, working as a dental hygienist comprises an average level of stress and a high rating for work-life balance. In 2016, about 50 percent of hygienists had part-time schedules.
How Much Does a Dental Hygienist Make?
The salary for a dental hygienist is considered comfortable. It averages at 72,910 US dollars. The highest salary tops at 100,170 US dollars with the lowest being 50,870 US dollars. In 2016, the average hourly pay of a dental hygienist was 35.31 US dollars
Compared to other healthcare support jobs, a hygienist receives a comparably greater salary. A dental assistant, for example, only earns 37,890 US dollars as an average salary, Meanwhile, a clinical laboratory technician earns 41,700 US dollars annually. Interestingly, a dental hygienist earns as much as a registered nurse as of 2016.