Dental Hygienist Salary

Dental Hygienist Salary Information

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Dental Hygienist Job Description
Dental Hygienist Training and Education

Dental Hygienist

Clean Teeth—davitydave (Flickr.com)

The primary job of a dental hygienist is cleaning teeth and examining patients for oral diseases. They also educate patients on preventative dental care, including maintaining good oral health. At times, a dental hygienist will also be expected to take x-rays, apply fluoride or sealants, and perform various other similar tasks. Dental hygienists typically work in dentists’ offices, in teamwork with other dentists and assistants.

The Skinny on Salaries

A dental hygienist can often expect a fairly good salary right out of school. There is significantly high demand for well-trained graduates – especially those with a bachelor’s degree in the field. According to the most recent numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for a dental hygienist averages out at $69,760, or $33.54 hourly.

Determining Factors

As we’ve mentioned, there’s a fairly good employment demand in the field of dental hygiene, and that demand is expected to grow significantly by 2018. Of course, the great job opportunities and great average salaries have folks scrambling to get their degrees in dental hygiene. If you’re seriously considering the field, you should be aware of certain factors that will significantly affect your salary right out of the door.

The first factor – and a key one, I might add – is your education. A huge number of students have chosen to be dental hygienists because the minimum degree requirements are comparatively easy to meet. You can get licensed and into employment with no more than an associate’s degree – in some cases, even a simple certificate course will do.

You should be aware, however, that settling for an associate’s degree or certificate will very often restrict you to working as a dental assistant, which obviously puts a low cap on your salary rate. Those who choose to put in the time and effort for a four-year bachelor’s degree will generally have far greater flexibility and options upon entering the job market.

Obviously, your years of experience will also make a difference in your salary, as your skill level, speed, proficiency, and knowledge will only increase with time. The best dental offices and private business are the ones that will typically pay the most – and they’ll be looking for the best people to employ. There’s not much you can do about this when you’re fresh out of college, but it’s a factor to keep in mind.

A third important factor is personal development. The medical fields are constantly progressing, with new tools, new procedures and new medicines being introduced all the time. In order to be a cutting-edge dental hygienist – in other words, one who can expect a high salary – you’ll need to keep your ranching up to date.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to become a member of an organization like the Dental Hygienist Association. Membership will not only provide invaluable interaction with others in your field, but it’s also a great way to make professional connections.

Finally, a factor that does affect salary is how much you work. A great aspect of working as a dental hygienist is the flexible hours – but that also means a lower salary. Around 50% of dental hygienists are only employed part-time, so many will work at more than one office to supplement their salaries.

Industry Breakdown

Of course, where you choose to work does play a significant role in your salary. As you can see, a dentist’s office will pay an annual average of $70,070, while working in an educational capacity will only earn you around $61,000.

INDUSTRY

AVERAGE HOURLY

AVERAGE ANNUAL

Offices of Dentists

$33.69

$70,070

Offices of Physicians

$30.84

$64,160

Outpatient Care Centers

$33.28

$69,220

Offices of Other Health Practitioners

$32.07

$66,710

Educational Services

$29.34

$61,030

Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools

$29.52

$61,410

Social Assistance

$31.27

$65,040

Geographic Breakdown

While salaries do vary somewhat depending on where you choose to work, geographic location definitely plays a much larger role, with the difference coming out in the tens of thousands. Dental hygienists in California significantly outrank most other states, with average salaries topping out around $91,000. However, those in Alabama bring home considerably less, averaging $44,900 annually.

STATE

AVERAGE HOURLY

AVERAGE ANNUAL

Alabama

$21.59

$44,900

Alaska

$41.50

$86,310

Arizona

$37.58

$78,170

Arkansas

$29.03

$60,380

California

$43.75

$91,010

Colorado

$35.97

$74,820

Connecticut

$41.20

$85,700

Delaware

$35.62

$74,080

District of Colombia

$43.51

$90,500

Florida

$27.93

$58,080

Georgia

$30.90

$64,270

Hawaii

$32.73

$68,080

Idaho

$33.20

$69,060

Illinois

$29.33

$61,000

Indiana

$30.74

$63,940

Iowa

$31.61

$65,750

Kansas

$30.13

$62,670

Kentucky

$27.41

$57,020

Louisiana

$29.58

$61,530

Maine

$33.68

$70,050

Maryland

$35.28

$73,380

Massachusetts

$37.63

$78,260

Michigan

$28.99

$60,310

Minnesota

$33.63

$69,960

Mississippi

$23.65

$49,190

Missouri

$33.52

$69,710

Montana

$31.16

$64,810

Nebraska

$31.09

$64,660

Nevada

$42.60

$88,620

New Hampshire

$36.69

$76,310

New Jersey

$38.92

$80,950

New Mexico

$36.05

$74,980

New York

$32.91

$68,440

North Carolina

$30.62

$63,700

North Dakota

$27.08

$56,330

Ohio

$30.48

$63,410

Oklahoma

$30.53

$63,500

Oregon

$37.97

$78,980

Pennsylvania

$28.36

$58,980

Rhode Island

$34.11

$70,950

South Carolina

$26.67

$55,470

South Dakota

$27.00

$56,170

Tennessee

$29.95

$62,300

Texas

$32.30

$67,190

Utah

$31.67

$65,880

Vermont

$33.95

$70,610

Virginia

$39.08

$81,280

Washington

$43.47

$90,420

West Virginia

$23.91

$49,720

Wisconsin

$29.28

$60,910

Wyoming

$32.00

$66,560