Trying to decide on a state to live in and build a career as a dental hygienist? One you might want to think about is the beautiful Appalachian state of West Virginia. As the 10th smallest state by area, this state is the 38th most populated. While West Virginia does unfortunately have the second lowest household income nationwide, there are plenty of draws to this scenic state. Furthermore, the cost of living is low, so that makes up in some respects for the lower income.
What can you see and do while you are living and working in West Virginia as a dental hygienist? Popular activities include exploring the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, fishing and boating on the Ohio River, hiking, and base jumping around the New River Gorge Bridge, and visiting the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.
Career Outlook and Salary
So how much money can you expect to earn each year if you make West Virginia your home as a dental hygienist? Let’s see what the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has to say on the matter.
The BLS has recorded the nationwide mean annual salary for dental hygienists to be $73,440. In West Virginia in 2016, the BLS reported 1,020 professionals making their living practicing dental hygiene. On average, their salaries were $54,060 per year.
So yes, that is significantly less than you might make in another state. But that should not necessarily deter you, because the cost of living in West Virginia is quite a bit lower than the nationwide average. Sperling’s Best Places lists its cost of living index at 82.80, where 100 represents the US average, and numbers lower on the scale represent costs that are less than that average. Considering that most states are fairly close to 100, the 82.80 really is a strong indication that West Virginia is an inexpensive place to live.
As to rate of growth, dental hygiene is a world of accelerating opportunity. Right now, jobs are increasing at a rate of 19%, which is excellent news if you have decided on this as your career field.
Excited to become a dental hygienist in West Virginia? There are a few licensing requirements that you will have to meet in order to practice:
- Submit your application and pay the in-state fee of $75 or the out-of-state fee of $100.
- Take and pass the National Board Exam, and have your scores sent directly to the state Board office.
- Take and pass a regional clinical board exam, and also have the agency which tested you submit your scores directly to the state Board.
- If you have changed your name, you need to provide information on your previous names and submit copies of any changes that were made by Court Order.
- Provide two references. These must be professional, and should preferably be dentists. The letters of reference have to be mailed directly to the Board (you cannot hand them to the Board yourself).
- Submit a recent notarized photograph with your application.
If you are ready to embark on a career pathway toward becoming a dental hygienist in West Virginia, then you will want to get started by browsing and comparing schools. Below you can view a full list of colleges and universities in West Virginia which offer accredited dental hygiene programs.
BridgeValley Community & Technical College
Community and Technical College
Dental Hygiene Program
619 2nd Avenue
Montgomery, WV 25136-0000
West Liberty University
College of Science/Department of Health Science
Sarah Whitaker Glass School of Dental Hygiene
208 University Drive, College Union Box 121
West Liberty, WV 26074-0295
West Virginia University
School of Dentistry
Division of Dental Hygiene
1188 HSC-N, P.O. Box 9425
Morgantown, WV 26506-9425