All About Dental Hygienist Schools and Careers
The United States Department of Labor considers the dental hygienist career one of the most “winning” careers in 2012. As a matter of fact, the department says that the demand for dental hygienists will continue to grow until 2018. For this reason, there are more dental hygienist schools in the country than there was a few years ago.
The Labor Department says that a total of 174,000 job opportunities were available for dental hygienists in 2008. By 2018, they foresee a 36% increase and that there will be 237,000 job opportunities available. Due to this, it is not so surprising that a lot of people choose to become a dental hygienist.
Choosing the Best Dental Hygienist School
How to become a dental hygienist? It all starts with choosing the best dental hygienist school and program. Different schools will offer different programs that will depend on the level of educational attainment one wants. One important thing to remember is to choose a dental hygienist school that is accredited by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA).
Different dental hygienist schools will also offer different programs. Choosing a program will have an impact on the amount of job opportunities after graduation. Anyone can become a dental hygienist by taking the two year associate program. However, those who want to enter the academe or research are advised to take the four year bachelor’s degree program. Of course, certain universities will also have master’s and doctorate programs. Dental hygienists that choose to teach will eventually be required to get a master’s degree.
People who are thinking of changing their career might want to think about becoming a dental hygienist. One does not even have to go to class every single day. There are accredited online dental hygiene programs that will allow one to work and study more efficiently.
One does not become a dental hygienist right after graduation. In order to become a registered dental hygienist, it is important to pass the licensure exam. This exam will have two parts – one written and one practical. To obtain a license, it is important to pass both.
This license applies to all of the states except for Alabama. Alabama’s state government will have their own set of requirements.
A dental hygienist can actually work in the academe, research, physician’s office, and other medical related workplaces. However, most dental hygienists actually choose to work with dentists in dental clinics.
Dental hygienists that work in dental clinics are in charge of providing advice on oral hygiene. Moreover, they are also in charge of other tasks like:
- Examining the patient
- Performing the initial diagnosis
- Preparing the course of treatment
- Taking X-rays
- Applying anesthesia
The amount of tasks that a dental hygienist is licensed to perform will actually depend on the state. In some states, applying anesthesia will be part of a dental hygienist’s tasks. In other states, this might not be allowed.
Besides the number of job opportunities, a lot of people choose to become dental hygienists because of the salary. How much does a dental hygienist make? They make a lot of money. How much exactly? It will really depend on a number of factors.
Factors that can affect dental hygienist salary will include the geographic location, employer, job, educational attainment, and experience. In reality, some of these factors will affect the salary of any career. On the average, a dental hygienist can make as much as $67,860 per year.
The highest paid dental hygienists are those that work in Alaska. The average annual income of a dental hygienist that works in Alaska can get as high as $110,180. If one compares it to the average annual income of those that work in Alabama, $44,900, the income of dental hygienists in Alaska is more than twice the amount of those that work in Alabama.
The salary of a dental hygienist is enough reason for a lot of people to choose this career. Needless to say, the amount of job opportunities available is also an added boost. During these tough economic times, it pays to choose a “winning” career.
These are the things that one should know before becoming a dental hygienist. It helps to know what they actually do, what school to choose, how to become one, and the rewards in store for becoming one.