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Dental Hygienist Salary

By: CareerFactsheet editors- Updated: Jun 21,2017

A career in dental hygiene is one of the most promising professions these days for those who opt to work in the health and medical industry. Considering that the population is increasingly becoming more health conscious, and with the government's thrust on healthcare including new technologies that show a direct relationship between oral health and general health, it is not a surprise that people are choosing a career on dental hygiene than other medical fields.

Present Salary Rates and Benefits for Dental Hygienists

New practitioners are typically paid a starting salary of $17 per hour, while those who have been in the field can command an hourly rate of $60 or higher per hour - that is equivalent to about $30,000 to $125,000 per annum, or an average pay of $74,000 per year. Compared with a dental assistant who also works with the dentist, these rates are already high considering that assistants make an average of $45,000 per year.

Salaries for dental hygienists are non-standard as there are States that pay higher than other States. As an example, compare two graduates who completed their dental hygienist course from accredited schools, passed the State licensure exam, and have the same level and proficiency in dental hygiene practices. One of them decides to work in Alabama, while the other one chose to set up practice in Ohio. The one who works in Alabama can receive an annual salary of $43,000 per year, while the one who works in Ohio can receive a yearly income of $67,000.

The discrepancy in salary is primarily dictated by location of practice. Thus, practitioners must consider high-paying States if what they want is competitive salary package. On the other hand, one should also take into account the standards of living in a particular location because even if the salary is high, and yet living in that area is costly (housing, electricity, transportation, food, and others), it could still result to break even compensation.

Among the high-paying states are:

  • Alaska: $110,000 per year
  • Washington: $110,000 per year
  • Washington, DC: $98,000 per year
  • California: $96,000 per year
  • New Jersey: $85,000 per year

Among the low-paying States are:

  • Utah: $40,000 per year
  • Alabama: $43,000 per year
  • Georgia: $51,000 per year
  • New York: $54,000 per year

In terms of employee benefits, hygienists receive the regular package as mandated by law that includes time-off, sick leave, and increases. On top of these, one may also receive bonuses, commissions, and contributions to retirement funds. However, it is important to note that these are non-standard benefits thus, the clinic has the option whether to provide employees with these rewards or not. In addition, these benefits may be given to full time employees only.

How To Increase Your Wages?

Dental Hygienist Wages

It would appear as if practitioners opting to work in states that offer low-income potential receive average pay only. However, this is not the case when benefits that one receives as a hygienist are accounted for or included in the remuneration package.

To increase opportunities of receiving a higher pay, one must:

  • Ensure to take certification tests even if some states do not require licenses for practitioners
  • Opt for part-time jobs instead of full time because this allows practitioners to vary their per hour rate depending on the clinic they work for
  • Opt for further education as this opens other career options within the dental hygiene industry such as research and teaching
  • Attend training to increase knowledge on more specialized procedures.

Working Conditions of Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists usually work under the supervision of a dentist, although there are some responsibilities that they do without needing dentists' approval such as reading x-ray results and application of fluorides and teeth polishing, among others. This job requires one to stand most of the time when dealing with patients.

In terms of schedule, they can typically make their own timetable depending on whether they work in a dental clinic full time or part-time. Some hygienists prefer working three days a week only, while others work full time, meaning, around 30-40 hours weekly. This may include some evening patient appointments in the dental facility, or even Saturday schedules.

Although pay is not comparable with what doctors and dentists make per year, the salary for hygienists is still high enough to provide a comfortable lifestyle for practitioners. Employment prospects for dental hygienists is increasing, thus, now is the best time to decide whether you want to pursue a career in dental hygiene or not.

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