Everyone knows that brushing their teeth matters, but no one knows it like a dental hygienist. They see, and clean, multiple sets of teeth everyday, and they do their best to encourage each patient to keep their pearly whites gleaming.
Minimum Degree/Certification Requirement: Associate’s Degree, License
Vital Skills/Knowledge: Anatomy, Oral Health, Patient Interaction
Average Starting Salary: $45,000/year
A dental hygienist is responsible for cleaning patient’s teeth, yes, but they are also a patient’s first source for oral hygiene advice. A dental hygienist can instruct a patient on the best diet, toothpaste, floss, and brushing regimen for optimal tooth and gum health. Dental hygienists take x-rays, apply sealants, and give fluoride treatments. They manage a patient’s basic dental health, without needing a laborious medical degree.
Many dental hygienists only work part-time during business hours, making it a very flexible career. Some practices even cater to a specific demographic, like children, allowing you to choose a work environment best suited to your skills.
An associate’s degree in dental hygiene is required to become a dental hygienist. This degree is available at many community and four-year colleges, as well as some universities. Common required courses include:
- Dental Materials and Tools
- Clinical Dental Hygiene
Interested high school students will have an easier time with their college classes if they have a strong background in biology, anatomy, and communications.
All states require dental hygienists to be licensed, but the specific requirements may vary. To obtain a license, prospective hygienists must bass the National Board of Dental Hygiene Exam. The American Dental Association has many test-prep resources available for those students who want a little extra help before testing.
Job Outlook: Excellent
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 38% increase in dental hygienist positions between the years 2010 and 2020, which is well above the national average. Dental hygiene can be an economically sound job — the median salary in 2010 was over $68,250 per year.
- Dental Hygienist
- Ave Starting Salary:
- approx. $45,000yr
- Ave Median Salary:
- approx. $68,250yr
- Job Outlook:
- Education Required:
- Dental Hygiene/Hygienist (2 Yr Associate, 4 Yr Bachelors)