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 is registered with a dental association or regulatory body. He or she trained and got educated 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 be a dental hygienist?
Like most healthcare professions, education and training are needed to work as a hygienist. In the United States, over 330 dental hygiene programs are offered.
To be a dental hygienist, an associate degree is needed. 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 are required to 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 considered 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, 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 dental 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 with the highest salary reaching 100,170 US dollars and 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 only gets 37,890 US dollars average salary, while a clinical laboratory technician is paid 41,700 US dollars. A dental hygienist earns as much as a registered nurse in 2016.