Thinking about becoming a dental hygienist? Dental hygiene is a rapidly growing career field with numerous opportunities. It’s a great way to earn a solid, dependable income, enjoy flexible hours, and do meaningful work that provides you with intangible rewards.
Getting started on a new career path is daunting, however, especially if you have no idea where to begin! That’s why we started up DentalCareersGuide.org. Our website will serve as your comprehensive guide. We will teach you everything you need to know about the career of dental hygienist and how to become one.
What is a Dental Hygienist?
Dental hygienists are the core staff of any dental clinic. Not only do they perform cleanings, spending the most time with each patient, but they also educate patients on proper oral hygiene and dental health issues. Depending on what niche you decide to go into, you could also find yourself performing dental research, conducting sales, instructing others, or even performing forensic analysis! You might also decide to become an Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner (ADHP). This is like a step between dental hygienist and dentist.
To learn more about the duties and career options for dental hygienists, check this page. As you will see, there is an abundance of opportunity. No matter what your interests are within the dental field, there is a career out there just waiting for you.
Why Become a Dental Hygienist?
There are so many reasons why dental hygiene is an amazing field! Just consider these awesome job benefits:
- You can make a great living. The median annual pay in 2012 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was $33.75 per hour.
- The work is steady and reliable, since there is a ton of demand, and that demand is rapidly growing.
- This is a profession you can get into at the entry level with just an associate’s degree. So the costs and time involved with getting the required degree are minimal compared to many other fields with comparable pay.
- There is incredible flexibility. Many dental hygienists work part-time or flexible hours. You can even work in the evenings or weekends at some clinics. And because demand is high everywhere, you can live and work wherever you want. Becoming a dental hygienist gives you great control over your life.
- A huge variety of job duties means you will always have something new to do. This work always stays fresh and interesting.
- You get the intangible benefit of knowing you work in an occupation where you are helping others!
- Is a Career as a Dental Hygienist a Good Fit For You?
Would you be happy and successful in a role as a dental hygienist? Great dental hygienists exhibit the following traits:
- Detail-oriented. You need excellent attention to detail as well as great dexterity to work inside a person’s mouth.
- Great communication skills. You will be working closely with other dental professionals, and will also need to be able to clearly communicate with patients.
- Energetic and enthusiastic. This is a job that involves a lot of running around and doing many different tasks, so you will need the physical and mental stamina each day to complete your work successfully.
- Patient and compassionate. This is one of the most important qualities of all. A lot of patients fear going to the dentist or simply dread it. You can make their visit a much more pleasant one if you are patient with their concerns and can demonstrate care with your words and actions. The ability to set patients at ease and converse with them easily is a very important one for a hygienist. This is often as big a factor for patients in evaluating a dental clinic as the work performed.
How Do You Become a Dental Hygienist?
Feel like a career as a dental hygienist could just be the perfect job for you? Excited to take the next step?
To become a dental hygienist, you will need to choose a school and a program. Entry-level positions require at least an associate’s degree. Some positions require a bachelor’s degree. That means approximately two to four years of school, plus the prerequisite classes required by even most two-year associate’s programs.
Once you complete your degree program, you will need to take the dental hygiene national and regional board exams. After you pass your exams, you need to complete the relevant licensure steps for your state. At that point, you will become a licensed dental hygienist! Learn more about the process.
What Programs Are Available?
If you decide to pursue a career in dental hygiene, you will need to familiarize yourself with the different educational programs available. These include entry-level programs for getting started, as well as degree completion programs if you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree after getting your associate’s degree. You can also choose to get a master’s degree in dental hygiene. Later down the road, if you stop work for a while and wish to return, there are refresher programs available. Read all about the different types of dental hygiene programs!
What Are the Educational Requirements?
Before you can get started earning your dental hygiene degree, you will need to obtain a high-school diploma and satisfactorily complete a number of college-level courses. After you complete these prerequisites, you can apply to a dental hygiene school. You then need to complete the degree program along with your required supervised clinical time. Each semester, you will be required to carry out and demonstrate you are capable of specific clinical procedures as well. Once these requirements have been fulfilled, you can take your exams and get your license. Learn about the educational requirements in detail.
Dental Hygienist Schools
Going to school to become a dental hygienist will be most affordable if you go in your home state. Check out our list of schools by state to start on your educational journey!
What Is the Career Outlook?
What can you expect in your future if you decide to take this path? In terms of both salary and opportunities for growth, if you become a dental hygienist, you will be in great shape.
The median salary for dental hygienists in 2012 was $70,210 per year, or $33.75 per hour. For comparison, the median annual pay for all health technicians for that year was just $40,380 per year. At $33.75 per hour, you can make a great living whether you plan to work full-time or part-time.
This data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau also reports that in 2012, there were 192,800 jobs for dental hygienists. The field is growing at a rate of 33%, which is much faster than the average for all other professions. That should equate to 64,200 new jobs by the year 2022. That is a ton of opportunity just waiting for you!
Looking for more references that will help you in your quest to become a dental hygienist? We recommend checking out the following useful pages:
Enjoy checking out all of these resources as well as the other pages on our site, and good luck on your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist!