Dental hygiene is the perfect field for those who find fulfillment in providing a valuable service. Dental hygienists do just that. Every day, dental hygienists teach their patients the value of oral hygiene. They help maintain the health of their patients’ teeth by removing calculus and plaque and, of course, they help prevent decay by applying preventative materials. This career is not without other rewards, too! Dental hygiene offers flexibility, security, and a good salary. Both full-time and part-time employment options exist, allowing hygienists to adopt a schedule that fits their lifestyle. According to the American Dental Association, Dental Hygiene is one of the fastest-growing occupations in America, providing hygienists with great job security. But, how much is the dental hygienist salary? And, how can you start practicing (and earning!) as a dental hygienist? Read on to learn more about this exciting career.
Academic Requirements for Dental Hygienists
Prospective dental hygienists should be aware of which academic requirements are expected of them. Dental hygienists are required to earn, at minimum, an associate degree in order to become licensed. This degree program may include liberal arts courses, basic science classes, and mathematics. Most importantly, however, the associate degree provides students with clinical experience and training.
An associate degree in Dental Hygiene, from an accredited program, makes aspiring dental hygienists eligible to sit for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the licensure exam (hosted by your state). After passing these exams, prospective dental hygienists can become registered dental hygienists (RDH).
Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene
While some prospective dental hygienists may pursue a bachelor’s degree in the interest of management opportunities, an associate degree in Dental Hygiene is the minimum degree requirement for dental hygienists. In this degree, students learn how to communicate with patients while functioning as a member of a larger dental healthcare team. They are expected to become experts in many elements of patient care, including assessment, diagnosis, evaluation, and documentation.
While every program has its own set of requirements, University of Bridgeport requires applicants to hold a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. Applicants must have also completed the following prerequisite courses within seven years of applying:
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- Introduction to Chemistry
- Intermediate Algebra
- English Composition
Lastly, students are expected to submit their high school transcripts (as well as transcripts from any previously attended colleges) in addition to a personal statement, supplemental application, and two recommendation forms.
The associate in Dental Hygiene consists of 78 semester hours. Students are expected to complete general education credits, including:
- Composition and Rhetoric
Additionally, students must complete program course requirements that train them for a career in Dental Hygiene. This coursework includes:
- Oral Anatomy and Embryology
- General and Oral Histo-Pathology
In addition to these courses, candidates in this program must complete four semesters of clinical practice. These clinical credits help train dental students to become professionals in their field.
Dental Hygienist Salary Expectations
When considering a future career path, salary is a typical concern. How much does a dental hygienist make? Is the investment in college worth your time? Luckily, dental hygienists are among the best paid healthcare professionals today!
National Dental Hygienist Salary: $77,090 annually
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median wage for dental hygienists is $77,090 per year. However, the best 25% of earners can make upwards of $90,000 per year.
Nationally, benefits such as vacation time, sick leave, and retirement contributions can vary from employer to employer as many dental offices are structured as small businesses. However, if benefits are important to you, it is possible to work for the federal government as a dental hygienist. Though you can expect to earn a lower salary overall, you are more likely to receive vacation pay, retirement benefits, and sick time.
On a national scale, employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by 11% over the next ten years. This is faster than the national average for other careers, meaning demand will be high and overall, job opportunities will be plentiful.
Connecticut Dental Hygienist Salary: $85,610 annually
Connecticut is ranked among the top 12 paying states for dental hygienists today. In the state of Connecticut, dental hygienists make 11% more than the national average! Dental hygienists earn a median salary of around $85,610 per year, with the top 20% earning upwards of $98,000 annually. Dental hygienists just beginning their career, however, should be aware that they’re likely to earn a starting salary somewhere closer to the $50-60,000 range.
Dental hygiene is an exciting field with endless potential for growth and job fulfillment. If that wasn’t enough, a dental hygienist salary is another great motivator for those interested in pursuing this career. Begin your career in as few as two years with an associate degree in Dental Hygiene.
Ready to begin your dental hygienist studies? Learn more about the Fones School of Dental Hygiene at University of Bridgeport, here!