How to Become a Dental Hygienist

Overview & Salaries

Recommended Degree:
The right degree for you depends on the industry and company you apply for. Most employers usually require you to have an associates degree and a license in dental assisting. If you are looking to get into a competitive position, then a bachelors degree may be useful for you.

Learn more by clicking our “Places to Work” tab up top or start your career path today by signing up for free information from one of our accredited colleges below that offers programs to help you become a dental hygienist.

How Much Does a Dental Hygienist Make? 
$70,210 (median salary)

Expected Growth from 2012-2020:
+64,200 employed workers

(all information above provided by the BLS)

Discover the Best Places to Become a Dental Hygienist

California has both the greatest number of job opportunities and mean wages in the nation, where 21,930 dental hygienists are currently making $93,920 annually. Texas is second, with 12,590 jobs, and a yearly average salary of $71,010 for dental hygienist professionals.

The best place to open a dental practice, or work in one is where the most people go to the dentist. The answer to the question can be vague at best. However, a recent report from Dentistry IQ has nailed down the Top Ten places for hygienist and assistants.

  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • Washington
  • Utah
  • Pennsylvania
  • Hawaii
  • Ohio

Employment and Salary Information by State for Dental Hygienists

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career in Dental Hygiene. The associated information has been gathered from the Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Dental Hygienist

Why Become a Dental Hygienist

Teeth are big business in the United States and nobody knows that better than the men and women in charge of your oral healthcare. In fact, the median annual salary of dentists is an impressive over 70 thousand. And employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow by higher than most positions from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Obviously things are good in the oral care business and there are many roles beyond dentist and hygienist to help service and educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.

Recommended Courses to Help You Become a Dental Hygienist Expert

  • Chemistry Health Professionals
  • Head & Neck Anatomy
  • Tooth Morphology
  • Clinical Dental Hygiene
  • Microbiology for the Health Professional
  • Radiography
  • Radiography Lab
  • Pharmacology for the Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Materials

Degrees You Can Earn to Become a Dental Hygienist

While many programs offer certificates, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees in dental hygiene, an associate’s degree is generally considered the gateway to becoming a practicing dental hygienist or dental assistant. For dentists, the requirements are more extensive and include anywhere from two to five years of dental training/school after receiving an undergraduate degree.

Associate’s Degree
Most programs provide students with a well-rounded course of study that includes anatomy, radiography, physiology, nutrition, and periodontology. Students are qualified to sit for the state’s licensing test upon completing the coursework.

Master’s Degree
Graduates of this extensive program are prepared to be involved in many problem solving issues facings dentists today. These courses often involve a science-centered approach that will help hygienists diagnose and treat oral diseases as well as carryout the traditional responsibilities of the hygienist.

The Doctor of Dental Surgery and Doctor of Dental Medicine are essentially the same degree bestowed upon dental students once they complete a course of study. The difference is one of semantics that stems from certain schools only granting degrees in Latin.