Dental hygienists are health professionals who work in dental offices, under the supervision of dentists. Their responsibilities usually include informing patients about good oral health habits, performing dental cleanings, oral inspections, assessments, and more. If you want to pursue a career in this field, you are welcome to consult our guide on how to become a dental hygienist. You will gain insight on how long it takes to become a dental hygienist, how to become a registered dental hygienist, dental hygienist employment opportunities and salary prospects, and other information on this topic.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Dental Hygienist?
Firstly, the most relevant part of how to become a dental hygienist is the duration of the educational process. Well, to answer the question of ‘how many years to become a dental hygienist?’, we need to present all the options that you have available. The minimal requirement is actually an Associate’s Degree, which involves 2 years of studies. Please note that the program you follow should be accredited, so your degree can be valid.
Even though it might seem appealing at first, you should know that many dental hygienists choose to get a Bachelor’s (3-5 years) or a Master’s degree (1-2 years) to boost their chances of getting hired. While the latter options aren’t mandatory to become a dental hygienist, they do help candidates for more job opportunities.
In addition to your degree studies, you also have to be licensed in the area you want to work in. As a result, ‘how many years to become dental hygienist?’ becomes longer, but not dramatically. Depending on the state you live in, licensing can take anywhere between 3 and 6 months.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Dental Hygienist?
Now that you know how long it takes to become a dental hygienist, you are probably wondering how much the process costs. This can also vary, depending on what degree you want to obtain. If you want to go for the basics and just get an Associate’s Degree, the average costs for fees and tuition are between $22,692 – $30,155.
However, as we previously mentioned, it might help more to get a BA or MA degree to increase your job opportunities after your studies. These degrees cost more, but they will most likely be worth your time and investment. These are the average costs for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees for dental hygienists:
- Bachelor’s Degree for Dental Hygienist costs – $10,000 – $60,000
- Master’s Degree for Dental Hygienist costs – $23,133 – $30,421
You will also have an additional fee for becoming a licensed dental hygienist. You can look into the specific costs for your state for more information.
Can I Become a Dental Hygienist without a Degree – Education Requirements to Be a Dental Hygienist
Some people ask: ‘How can I become a dental hygienist without a degree?’. We’re sorry to inform you that you generally can’t without at least the 2-year Associate’s Degree. The good news is that you can get your dental hygienist degree online. There are plenty of online programs available for future students.
Dental Hygienist Tech Schools
There are numerous schools you can choose from for your Dental Hygienist studies. These schools can be found all across the United States, and offer great programs for aspiring dental hygienists. You can search for a dental hygienist school either according to the state you live in, or how prominent the university is. A few examples that you can explore are:
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor – Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene
- New York University – Dental Hygiene Programs
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Dental Hygiene Programs
- Texas A & M University – Bachelors in Dental Hygiene
- University of Southern California – Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
- Rutgers School of Health Professions – Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs
- University of Washington – Masters of Science in Dental Hygiene
- Ohio State University –Division of Dental Hygiene
- University of Minnesota – Dental Hygiene Programs
Feel free to do additional research for education opportunities in your area for how to become a dental hygienist.
Recommended read: DMD Vs DDS – A Guide To Dentistry Degrees
Dental Hygienist Jobs and Employment Opportunities
After you have completed the necessary steps for learning and training to become a dental hygienist, you can start researching potential job opportunities and key locations. The best resource for learning about the most lucrative and profitable locations for dental hygienists is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You will find the best and least favorable states for this occupation (and any other one in the United States).
According to the aforementioned source, the states with the highest employment levels for dental hygienists are:
- California – 20,560
- Texas – 12,980
- New York – 10,760
- Florida – 10,510
- Michigan – 9,870
Dental Hygienist Salary and Outlook
The final aspect we will talk about is the dental hygienist salary estimates. Dental hygienists typically make about $72,330 per year (roughly $34.77 per hour). The national average for health technologists and technicians is $42,190, while that for the total of occupations in the U.S. economy is $36,200. As you can clearly notice, the average salary for dental hygienists is indeed rewarding.
Nonetheless, this dental hygienist pay might not apply to all. You can expect to earn even less than $50k if you are a beginner in the field. On the other hand, experienced dental hygienists can earn even more than $98k. To increase your chances of getting a higher dental hygienist salary, we suggest that you look into the highest paying states for dental hygienists:
- Salary for dental hygienists in the District of Columbia – $98,530
- California dental hygienists average salary – $93,970
- Average pay for dental hygienists in New Mexico – $89,290
- Nevada dental hygienists annual mean wage – $89,190
- Mean wage for Washington dental hygienists – $88,870.
You can also find some prominent dental hygienists schools in these states. Therefore, we recommend considering your higher education in the same states so your transition to the job market can be easier.
A career in dental hygiene is attractive to many, as job outlook for dental hygienists is expected to increase by 19% until 2024. This is visibly faster than the average for all professions, which is only 7%. There will be more job opportunities available for dental hygienists in the United States, making this a highly sought-after career path for young students.
To conclude, completing the steps to become a dental hygienist aren’t as complicated as you think. All you have to do is get your Associate’s Degree and your state license to be eligible for jobs in this industry. However, it does help to have a BA or MA to get a better-paying job. Please share any experience you have on how to become a dental hygienist in the comment form below!