What Is The Job Outlook For Dental Hygienists
One thing is certain: Dentistry is a growth field. And even in a solo practice, dentists dont work alone: Dental hygienists provide many of the critical services that patients need for optimal dental health. In fact, most patients spend far more time with their hygienists than they do the dentist when they come in for their cleanings.
All this means that the job outlook for dental hygienists is good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics , the overall employment outlook for dental hygienists is going to increase 6% from 2019 to 2029. That makes it one of the faster-growing careers in the U.S.
There will certainly be job opportunities for dental hygienists the question is, is this the right career path for you? While we cant answer that question for you, personally, we can note that the field is growing faster every year, and there will be a lot of demand for trained hygienists in the future.
What Is The Average Salary Of A Dental Hygienist
The BLS compiles data on annual salaries for most professional positions in the U.S. It found that the median annual wage for hygienists is $76,200 per year. That salary varies from state to state of course. In California, for example, the mean wage is over $100,000 per year. In Ohio, its around $67,000.
Employment And Job Outlook For Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists hold about 173,900 jobs, and about 96 percent of dental hygienists work in offices of dentists. A small number work for employment services in physicians offices or other industries. The number of jobs exceed the number of hygienists because multiple job holding is common. Over 50 percent of dental hygienists work part-time.
Job growth for dental hygienists is expected to increase by 36 percent in the next decade, which is much faster than average for all occupations. This is mainly in response to a growing demand for dental care and more use of hygienists. As a growing emphasis is placed on preventative dental care, population grows and older people increasingly retain more teeth, there will be a growing demand for dental services. Job prospects will vary by geographical location, but are expected to be favorable in most areas. Dental hygienists who wish to practice in areas that have an abundance of dental hygiene programs may experience keen competition for jobs because graduates are permitted to practice only in the State in which they are licensed.
Some job growth will occur because older dentists who are less likely to employ dental hygienists are leaving the occupation to be replaced by recent graduates, who are more likely to employ one or more hygienist. More dental hygienists are expected to be hired to perform preventative dental care, as dentists workloads increase so that they may devote their time to more complex procedures.
Recommended Reading: Free Online Career Development Courses
You Only Need An Associate Degree
You’re much closer to getting a job as a hygienist because all you need to get started is an associate degree. The dental hygiene program at Ferris is a three-year program, the first year is the pre-professional year, the second and third years are devoted to the dental hygiene professional courses.
What Different Career Paths Does A Dental Hygienist Have Dentistry Orthodontics And More
You might assume that the career path as a dental hygienist is one-track. But youd be wrong. If youre enrolled in a dental hygiene program then its good news for your career prospects.
Open wide and come with us as we explore the different career paths you can take as a certified dental hygienist. You might be surprised.
Read Also: Texas Workforce Career Schools And Colleges
Choose Your Education Path
Once youve decided where you want to go in your career , choose the starting point that makes the most sense. Heres some key information that can help you chart a path from aspiring dental hygienist to working in an office.
Volunteer at a dental office
Volunteering in a dental office or shadowing a dental hygienist can be a great way to experience the day-to-day of the job before diving in. Get a handle of the tools they use, how they interact with patients and co-workers, and the overall feel of the work environment. And dont forget to ask questions. Ask about the benefits, challenges, and how the dental hygienist views career advancement.
An associate degree
Earning an associate degree is the most common path for training to become a dental hygienist. These programs, which take two to three years to complete, are for students who want to get the theoretical knowledge and hands-on training to prepare for an entry-level job, as well as earn the certification needed for employment. In addition to dental hygiene coursework, students in these programs also complete liberal arts classes such as mathematics, English composition, and psychology to give them a broad education and additional skills they can use in the workplace. As a result, students leave the program with important abilities, like critical thinking and problem solving skills, they can apply to patient care.
A bachelors degree
Consider a masters degree
More Career Options For The Dental Hygienist
Dental insurance – There are dozens of large, private dental insurance companies. These dental benefit companies might employ dentists in a number of roles, including claims review, scientific analyses and research, and administrative functions.
Research – We live in an unprecedented age of discovery that has opened many opportunities in oral, dental and craniofacial research. Careers and training are available at government institutions, universities, and private corporate research centers.
Federal services – Three branches of the Armed Services have their own health care corps. Within each corps, the health care team has dental professionals fulfilling critical and essential roles in multi-specialty practice to keep service members in a state of readiness. Dentists working in the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to care for veterans following their military service.
Federal services – Dental officers in the Commissioned Corp work throughout the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and in other federal agencies and programs.
Accreditation – Accreditation organizations utilize field surveyors, who have extensive experience in the health care environment they will be surveying.
So when you’re considering how to become a dental hygienist, consider the many opportunities you’ll have to work in a niche outside the clinical environment.
Recommended Reading: Career Interest Inventory For Students
Understand The Role Of A Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are licensed professionals who help patients maintain good oral health. They work under the supervision of a dentist to provide preventive care, non-surgical periodontal treatments, and teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene. Dental hygienist duties include:
- Perform preventative and non-surgical periodontal therapy treatments
- Perform screening procedures, such as X-rays and periodontal assessments
- Apply fluoride and sealants
- Provide oral health instructions to patients
- Document findings and procedural notes
- Other delegated duties outlined by the regulatory body in the state in which they are licensed
Dental hygienists are different from dental assistants. The role of a dental assistant varies from state to state, but mainly focuses on supporting the dentist during procedures. Many skills do transfer from dental assisting to dental hygiene.
Dental hygienist duties also differ from dentists. For example, dental hygienists may describe issues with a patients teeth or gums but cannot provide a diagnosis of the condition. Instead, dental hygienists report their findings to the dentist, who provides patients with a diagnosis and treatment options.
Complete Your Coursework & Clinical Training
Although the exact courses offered at dental hygiene schools differ from program to program, they are all designed to give students the theoretical knowledge and clinical training they need to earn their license and find employment after graduation. Also, students may gain an understanding of the needs of different types of patients they may treat by taking coursework about special populations, which will help them work with children or senior citizens. To give future dental hygienists a deeper knowledge of the field and the professional standards they are expected to adhere to, coursework may cover law and ethics, where students dive into specific state regulations that govern the way they will be required to work. During the clinical portion of their degree programs, students put the theories they learned into practice through simulations and hands-on clinical practice such as x-rays, anesthesia, and scaling of teeth.
You May Like: Virginia Beach Technical And Career Education Center
Tipisode Path To Leadership
This week on A Tale of Two Hygienists TIPisode we are joined by your host, Andrew Johnston, RDH to talk about leadership! This episode is applicable to everyone but will be especially beneficial for those that are on the path to leadership.Episode Highlights Non traditional paths Dont about TIPisode Path to Leadership
What Do Dental Hygienists Do
Dental hygienists typically do the following:
- Remove tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
- Apply sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
- Take and develop dental x rays
- Assess patients oral health and report findings to dentists
- Document patient care and treatment plans
- Educate patients about oral hygiene techniques, such as how to brush and floss correctly
Dental hygienists use many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with hand, power, and ultrasonic tools. In some cases, they use lasers. Hygienists remove stains with an air-polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush. Hygienists use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems. Some states allow hygienists with additional training, sometimes called dental therapists, to work with an expanded scope of practice.
Dental hygienists help patients develop and maintain good oral health. For example, they may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They may also give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral care devices.
The tasks hygienists may perform, and the extent to which they must be supervised by a dentist, vary by state and by the setting in which the dental hygienist works. For example, some states allow hygienists to diagnose certain health problems independently of a dentist.
You May Like: Is Nursing The Right Career For Me
Career Options For The Dental Hygienist
Academia – Academic dentistry needs dedicated educators to continue the tradition of excellence in the nation’s pre-doctoral, specialty and allied dental programs. Dental educators have the unique opportunity to contribute to the educational development of the next generation of oral health professionals, including the Dental Hygienist.
Dental organization – Organized dentistry describes the efforts of all the organizations that work to positively contribute to the dental profession. Organized dentistry encompasses the efforts of ADA members at the national, state and local level, as well as specialty societies and organizations that represent diversity in dentistry.
Dental consulting – Dental consulting is a broad field and many consultants are not dentists or in the Dental Hygienist field. Additional expertise in the dental care industry will be essential.
Dental products – The demand for dental products is on the rise. The education and knowledge that a dentist or Dental Hygienist already possesses might allow for opportunities in this area.
Earn Your Rdh License
Earning a dental hygiene degree is a huge accomplishment, but theres one more step graduates need to take before they can start looking for employment. The specific process for licensure is determined by the individual state where dental hygienists work, however, generally people are expected to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, as well as a state or regional licensing exam. In addition, dental hygienists are required to take continuing education classes to keep their license current, including updating CPR certification annually.
Also Check: Career Path For Business Intelligence
Never Stop Learning And Expanding Your Knowledge
Adding to your skill set, continuing your education, or immersing yourself in something new can help you to move forward in your career. Here are a few ways to continue learning well after youve passed your boards:
Use resources available to you to help expand your knowledge by finding companies who support dental professionals. For example, the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program recognizes, advocates for and celebrates dental hygienists and the important role we play in the office and in patients lives. Through a dedicated online channel on their website just for hygienists, you can find research and patient insights, tools, and resources to help elevate you in your profession. Theres also plenty of content available to help brighten your patients day as well, including care tips to encourage them to make the Daily Four part of their regular routine by highlighting the benefits of chewing sugarfree gum, along with brushing, cleaning interdentally, and rinsing so that patients can improve their overall oral health in an easy way. Youll also find social media tools and graphics that are easy to share and a sign-up for the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program to receive more information about patient care, upcoming conferences and other efforts to support dental hygienists.
Further your degree: The thought of going back to school can be daunting, but it can help to restore your love for dental hygiene and possibly open doors to new opportunities.
Evaluate Where You Are Now
If youre in a rut, an important step in digging yourself out is figuring out what put you there in the first place. Is it the redundancy of your days at work? Do you want to do more with your career and clinical practice isnt enough? Are you feeling burnt out because your current office isnt the right fit for you?
Sometimes hygienists dont realize its their office environment thats bringing them down. No office is perfect, but if you dread going to work or have anxiety and are stressed out while youre there, its time to make a list of the pros and cons of that workplace. If your office is chaotic, disorganized, or not following proper infection control, but your co-workers and doctor respect each other, and you work well as a team, then make an effort to see if you can help better the office through organization and updating protocols. This not only makes it a better workplace but also allows for top-notch patient care.
Don’t Miss: How Much Do Career Counselors Cost
Tipisode: Why You Should Attend In
On this TIPisode we are joined by conference junkee, Jennifer Stanley, RDH for a live recording at RDH Under One Roof! Jennifer talks to us about the reasons you need to be attending conferences in person and the value it provides to us as clinicians.Episode Highlights Guest Hygienist about TIPisode: Why You Should Attend In-person Conferences
Start Your Dental Career As A Hygienist
When you visit a dentist, the first person you may see is a dental hygienist.
Licensed Dental Hygienists , sometimes also called Registered Dental Hygienists , provide preventative dental care such as child and adult prophylaxis, fluoride treatments, sealants, take X-rays, and more. If youre interested in a career in helping people maintain good oral health, here are four steps to take to become a dental hygienist.
Take these 4 steps to become a dental hygienist:
Pass Your Board Exams And Get Licensed
Dental hygienists must be licensed in order to practice.
To become certified as a Licensed Dental Hygienist , you must first earn a degree from a CODA-accredited program1 and pass all licensure exams required by the state in which you are seeking licensure.
In Minnesota, the Board of Dentistry requires the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, an accepted regional examination, and the Minnesota Jurisprudence Examination.
Research Dental Hygiene Programs
Sound like a career for you? Now its time to pursue your degree. Those who want to get fundamental training to begin their career can earn an associate degree to familiarize themselves with the principles they need to know to do their job. Those who want more in-depth training to obtain higher level positions can earn a bachelors degree. In addition, some schools offer dental hygiene masters degrees, which are for those who already have experience and want to move to administrative roles, teach future dental hygienists, or conduct industry research.
Read Also: Marine Corps Pilot Career Path
Leadership Roundtable: Part 1
On this episode of A Tale of Two Hygienists Andrew is joined in a roundtable format by Sarah Thiel, RDH and Josey Sewell, RDH to discuss being a strong leader in running your business. There was so much great conversation in this episode that we decided to make it 2! This is part 1 of about 339 Leadership Roundtable: Part 1
Consider Other Dentistry Jobs
Its fairly easy to settle into your comfort zone at your current place of employment as a dental hygienist. You may be satisfied with the salary and employee benefits and enjoy working with your colleagues. The danger is that you can lose your passion for your work, especially if you keep doing the same routine over and over without any career advancement.
Applying for another job may be a move you need to take, even if there are possible risks. The point is you may have to get into something more challenging. You can also request an assessment if you are ready for a promotion and open a clinic if you have the resources. Quit being satisfied with jobs that get you by look for positions that enable you to become a better professional.
Don’t Miss: Career Interest Survey For Adults
Common Matching Personality Types
Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Dental Hygienist careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Dental Hygienist career satisfaction. This doesnt mean that there arent many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Dental Hygienist.