Dental Care

Dental Hygienist Salaries and Career Potential

As a general rule of thumb, dental hygienist salaries will start out at around 20,000 per year. As you gain experience, the pay scale will increase to 35,000.

That said, these numbers can vary widely based on the state that you live in, as well as the condition of the economy. Ideally, you should be prepared to move to different localities if you see better job opportunities and wage potential.

Individuals that choose to work as dental hygienists usually gain access to better benefit packages when they work for federal and state agencies, as well as public health clinics.

For example, you may be eligible for retirement benefits and life insurance. If you work in a private practice, you may only obtain free dental care and a paid vacation.

Career Potential

Today, dental hygienists are increasingly providing services that were once mainly the responsibly of a dentist. As a result, there is a higher demand for dental hygienists.

In particular, you will find that dental offices are looking for people that can assist with teaching patients about good oral hygiene. You will also find that more people are looking for advanced levels of dental care as they find out about the links between gum disease and other health problems.

Without a doubt as these factors combine with an aging population, there will be an even bigger need for dental hygienists.

When you work as a dental hygienist, you may also want to focus on specific branches of dentistry.

As you may be aware, there is an increasingly higher level of specificity in what an individual dentist can do for you. Not so long ago, a general dentist might offer periodontal care right along with routine extractions, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontics.

By contrast, you are likely to find that a modern dental practice will have one or more dentists that specialize in each of these fields. Therefore, when you match your hygienist skill sets to one of these specialties, you may be able to command higher rates of pay.

Educational Background

Before you apply to obtain a degree in dental hygiene, you will need a high school diploma. Depending on the facility, you may also need to take a college level entrance exam.

If you do not have a high school diploma, you can still get your GED at any age, and then take your college entrance exam. Depending on the college that you are interested in, they may offer remedial courses that will help you prepare for your GED. You may also be able to use some of these classes towards your elective credit to satisfy degree requirements.

Since each facility is different, you should look at as many colleges as possible in order to find one that will help you achieve your goal.

Individuals that are thinking of the dental hygienist salaries but that are still in high school may want to make sure that they take certain courses. Even though you will not get college level credit, they will be of use to you in your career.

These courses include biology, advanced math, psychology, health, speech, and chemistry. If you are in your senior year, taking these courses may also help you complete additional major requirements that you hadn't considered earlier.

As you review programs that lead to certification as a dental hygienist, you will find that some can be completed in one year. Others will take two years, and offer different degree types.

Regardless of the degree program, you will still need to go to an accredited technical college, community college, or dental hygienist school in order to sit for licensing exams.

Aside from meeting general elective requirements, a typical degree programs for dental hygiene will include the following courses which have a direct influence on dental hygienist salaries:

  • anatomy and physiology
  • chemistry
  • clinical dental hygiene
  • dental materials
  • histology (study of tissue)
  • microbiology
  • nutrition
  • oral pathology and diseases
  • periodontology (for gum diseases)
  • pharmacology
  • radiography
  • social and behavioral sciences

Before you think already about the dental hygienist salaries and enroll in a dental hygiene program you may be interested in learning more about the application process, degree types, certifications, and licensing exams. If you are already working as a dental hygienist, you may also want to know more about how to become a teacher.

All of these subjects are addressed in the next few articles in this series. Please feel free to view them at your earliest convenience.

We hope that these career guides and considerations about dental hygienist salaries will be of help to you as consider taking up an occupation in one of the fastest growing industrial sectors in the world.

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