When you research different careers, one of the questions you ask is, how much would I make? A dental hygienist can make a significant amount compared to the amount of school they need to complete to enter the field. A person only needs an associate degree to enter the field and be currently licensed by their state to practice.
Dental hygienists work with dentists to perform basic tasks such as patient assessment and teeth cleaning. However, their job goes further than remedying the situation. One of their primary focuses is on preventative care. Besides cleaning plague and stains off teeth, they work with the patients to develop good oral hygiene. Their salary can range depending on whether they possess clinical service skills or are only licensed as a general dental hygienist.
How Much Does a Dental Hygienist Make?
Dental hygiene salaries are primarily contingent upon geographical location, industry, and to a lesser extent, educational accomplishments. While there is no need to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene to enter the field, those advanced degrees are needed to work in research, teaching, or clinical practice in school health programs.
The US Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics estimates that as of May 2011, there were 184,110 working dental hygienists making roughly $33.54 an hour or $69,760 per year. However, salary can range from less than $46,020 for the lowest 10% of dental hygienists to upwards of $94,850 for the top 10%.
These figures do not account for the different industries and education. However, most dental hygienists only have an associate’s degree or a certificate, so this figure can give us a pretty accurate account of what the average dental hygienist makes.
Industry Specific Salary
The highest paying industry is facility support services. Dental hygienists in this field make an average of $74,650 per year. However, there are not a lot of employment opportunities in this field. IT averages about 40 jobs in the nation. The industry with the highest employment opportunity is dentist offices. Dentist offices employ an average of 176,670 dental hygienists per year who make an average of $70,070 annually. This industry is the third highest paying field.
Highest and Lowest Salary
The five states with the highest average salary are California ($91,010), the District of Columbia ($90,500), Washington ($90,420), Nevada ($88,620), and Alaska ($86,310). All five states have average hourly rates that are anywhere between $8 and $10 more than the national average. All five states have multiple employment opportunities, ranging from 400 in Alaska and the District of Columbia, to 19,500 in California.
The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for dental hygienists will increase by 38% by the year 2020. With the link between good oral care and good overall health, the need for dental hygienists will increase. With their focus on preventive care, they can teach their patients how to keep their teeth healthier for more years.
For more information on the job requirements for a dental hygienist please read the How to Become a Dental Hygienist article or our Dental Hygienist Job Description page.