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Dental Hygienist Schools and Career Information

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Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists are dental care professionals who typically work as part of a team along with dentists, dental technicians, and dental assistants. Dental hygienists perform a wide range of dental care tasks, including screening patients, cleaning and polishing teeth, examining gums and more.

Dental Hygienists picture    Dental Hygienists image

Dental Hygienist Schools

Most dental hygienists prepare for their careers by earning an associate's degree in dental hygiene from an accredited dental hygienist training program. There are approximately 300 dental hygiene training programs in the United States accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Though a handful of programs offer certificates in dental hygiene, the following degrees are the most common:

  • Associate Degree: An associate's degree in dental hygiene is the most popular way for individuals to prepare for entry-level dental hygienist jobs. Associate's degree programs generally take about two years to complete and they are offered by approximately 270 accredited dental hygienist training programs.
  • Bachelor's Degree: Like an associate's degree, a bachelorÓł degree program in dental hygiene prepares you for state licensing and entry-level dental hygiene work, but it can also qualify you for positions in dental hygiene education, research, and public health. A bachelor's degree generally takes about four years to complete.
  • Master's Degree: A masterÓł degree in dental hygiene requires an additional one to two years of study after the bachelor's degree and qualifies graduates for jobs in education, research, administration, and public health.

Earning a dental hygiene degree requires a combination of coursework and clinical experience. Exact offerings vary by program, but most dental hygienist training programs require students to take courses in the following subjects:

  • General science: chemistry, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, nutrition, pharmacology
  • Dental science: dental, head, and neck anatomy; oral histology and pathology; radiography; periodontology; dental materials; pain control
  • Dental hygiene science: health education, community dental health, patient management, medical and dental emergencies

Classes and Coursework for Dental Hygienists

A strong background in biology, chemistry and mathematics is a good place to start. Many dental hygiene programs require at least one year of college education before applying. At the very least, a high school diploma and college entrance test scores are required to begin a dental hygiene program.

Dental hygienist education includes both classroom and clinical instruction. Coursework often includes the following subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Histology
  • Periodontology
  • Clinical dental hygiene

Expect classes that will educate you on a variety of dental materials used, as well as instruction in social and behavioral sciences.

Dental Hygienist Education Requirements

Dental hygienists receive post secondary education from a dental hygiene program. A high school diploma or equivalent as well as passing an entrance test are typically required to obtain admission into a dental hygiene program. Dental hygiene programs offer laboratory, clinical, and classroom instruction. Most dental hygiene programs award associate degrees, which are typically all that is necessary educationally to practice in a private dentist's office. Advanced degrees are typically obtained by those wishing to go into research.

The majority of associate degree programs can be found in community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. It is important to make sure your program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Dental Hygienist Licensing

All states require that dental hygienists be licensed to practice. Most require that applicants be graduates of an accredited dental hygiene program and pass the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). In addition, most states also require the passing of a clinical examination which is administered by state or regional testing agencies.

Resources for Dental Hygienists

Sources:

  1. Dental Hygienists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm

The Top Cities tab shows employment statistics for Dental Hygienists by major metro area.

The Top Industries tab shows which industries have the most jobs for Dental Hygienists, along with salary data by industry.

The Browse Schools tab lets you search for schools by field of study, degree level, and location.

  • Overview
  • Top Cities
  • Career Stories
  • Top Industries
  • Browse Schools

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Dental Hygienists

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Dental Hygienists relative to the population of the city, as of 2008. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Relative Popularity of 1.0 means that the city has an average number of the particular job, for its population, compared to the rest of the US. Higher numbers mean proportionally more jobs of that type.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Metro Area Jobs Salary
(2013)
Relative
Popularity

Alabama

     
Anniston 90 $51430 1.43
Oxford 90 $51430 1.43
Jacksonville 90 $51430 1.43
Auburn 100 $45840 1.29
Opelika 100 $45840 1.29
Florence 110 $42680 1.53
Muscle Shoals 110 $42680 1.53
Gadsden 120 $30260 2.25
Huntsville 370 $51450 1.18
Daphne 150 $43160 1.52
Fairhope 150 $43160 1.52
Foley 150 $43160 1.52
Decatur 120 $44970 1.53
Dothan 140 $47880 1.72
Birmingham 670 $44670 0.92
Hoover 670 $44670 0.92
Mobile 310 $42120 1.27
Montgomery 270 $42900 1.15
Tuscaloosa 110 $46920 0.74

Alaska

     
Anchorage 290 $86640 1.13
Fairbanks 60 $90410 1.03

Arizona

     
Flagstaff 60 $87730 0.77
Phoenix 2090 $87320 0.77
Mesa 2090 $87320 0.77
Scottsdale 2090 $87320 0.77
Prescott 130 $90120 1.54
Lake Havasu City 110 $76290 1.66
Kingman 110 $76290 1.66
Sierra Vista 40 $90290 0.72
Douglas 40 $90290 0.72
Tucson 500 $84920 0.97
Yuma 70 $75950 0.83

Arkansas

     
Hot Springs 0 $69300 0
Jonesboro 100 $71610 1.34
Pine Bluff 40 $44950 0.92
Little Rock 430 $67830 0.87
North Little Rock 430 $67830 0.87
Conway 430 $67830 0.87

California

     
Bakersfield 230 $80280 0.54
Fresno 330 $86980 0.67
Hanford 40 $80570 0.74
Corcoran 40 $80570 0.74
Chico 200 $93310 1.89
Oxnard 610 $97400 1.42
Thousand Oaks 610 $97400 1.42
Ventura 610 $97400 1.42
Redding 80 $90690 0.97
Riverside 1560 $89720 0.82
San Bernardino 1560 $89720 0.82
Ontario 1560 $89720 0.82
Sacramento 1970 $94840 1.55
Roseville 1970 $94840 1.55
Arden 1970 $94840 1.55
Arcade 1970 $94840 1.55
Salinas 0 $96680 0
San Diego 1510 $87230 0.77
Carlsbad 1510 $87230 0.77
Los Angeles 6870 $101260 0.84
Long Beach 6870 $101260 0.84
Anaheim 6870 $101260 0.84
Modesto 290 $72520 1.19
Napa 130 $91770 1.32
Santa Cruz 340 $101170 2.57
Watsonville 340 $101170 2.57
Santa Maria 210 $94320 0.8
Santa Barbara 210 $94320 0.8
Santa Rosa 270 $95910 0.98
San Francisco 2890 $107940 0.91
Oakland 2890 $107940 0.91
Hayward 2890 $107940 0.91
Stockton 260 $90430 0.81
Lodi 260 $90430 0.81
San Jose 1340 $97830 0.91
Sunnyvale 1340 $97830 0.91
Santa Clara 1340 $97830 0.91
Vallejo 210 $100440 1.14
Fairfield 210 $100440 1.14
Visalia 190 $88530 0.91
Porterville 190 $88530 0.91
Yuba City 60 $90750 1.02
San Luis Obispo 240 $93570 1.47
Paso Robles 240 $93570 1.47
Arroyo Grande 240 $93570 1.47

Colorado

     
Fort Collins 280 $74520 1.31
Grand Junction 0 $76210 0
Greeley 170 $75350 1.18
Boulder 350 $83410 1.39
Colorado Springs 420 $73680 1.1
Denver 2850 $84430 1.43
Aurora 2850 $84430 1.43
Lakewood 2850 $84430 1.43
Pueblo 110 $71910 1.26

Connecticut

     
Hartford 1360 $84540 1.62
West Hartford 1360 $84540 1.62
East Hartford 1360 $84540 1.62
New Haven 680 $78230 1.68
Waterbury 80 $90800 0.82
Bridgeport 1000 $81980 1.65
Stamford 1000 $81980 1.65
Norwalk 1000 $81980 1.65
Danbury 230 $80820 2.01

Delaware

     
Dover 110 $68630 1.17

Florida

     
Gainesville 210 $58100 1.16
Homosassa Springs 40 $56920 0.99
Jacksonville 850 $63800 0.94
Cape Coral 340 $65770 0.99
Fort Myers 340 $65770 0.99
Crestview 160 $62640 1.11
Fort Walton Beach 160 $62640 1.11
Destin 160 $62640 1.11
Deltona 300 $61900 1.12
Daytona Beach 300 $61900 1.12
Ormond Beach 300 $61900 1.12
Orlando 1290 $68080 0.79
Kissimmee 1290 $68080 0.79
Sanford 1290 $68080 0.79
Palm Bay 330 $69280 1.17
Melbourne 330 $69280 1.17
Titusville 330 $69280 1.17
Panama City 130 $58450 1.11
Pensacola 320 $57000 1.37
Ferry Pass 320 $57000 1.37
Brent 320 $57000 1.37
Port St. Lucie 200 $70360 1.02
Punta Gorda 0 $69560 0
Lakeland 180 $67080 0.58
Winter Haven 180 $67080 0.58
Miami 3040 $63560 0.86
Fort Lauderdale 3040 $63560 0.86
West Palm Beach 3040 $63560 0.86
Naples 250 $84310 1.31
Immokalee 250 $84310 1.31
Marco Island 250 $84310 1.31
North Port 450 $67310 1.13
Sarasota 450 $67310 1.13
Bradenton 450 $67310 1.13
Ocala 160 $63890 1.17
Sebastian 130 $61430 1.92
Vero Beach 130 $61430 1.92
Sebring 60 $70580 1.61
Tallahassee 160 $55420 0.7
Tampa 1570 $70180 0.89
St. Petersburg 1570 $70180 0.89
Clearwater 1570 $70180 0.89
The Villages 70 $59480 1.86

Georgia

     
Albany 110 $50110 1.25
Athens 120 $57980 1.03
Clarke County 120 $57980 1.03
Atlanta 2810 $70680 0.78
Sandy Springs 2810 $70680 0.78
Roswell 2810 $70680 0.78
Gainesville 130 $59410 1.12
Brunswick 0 $49180 0
Dalton 0 $66420 0
Rome 70 $63370 1.41
Macon 160 $51430 1.15
Savannah 320 $65230 1.36
Valdosta 110 $48830 1.5
Warner Robins 90 $50500 0.93

Hawaii

     
Kahului 90 $70860 0.89
Wailuku 90 $70860 0.89
Lahaina 90 $70860 0.89
Urban Honolulu 690 $73570 1.04

Idaho

     
Boise City 730 $72310 1.75
Idaho Falls 160 $72690 1.79
Coeur d'Alene 130 $89780 1.63
Pocatello 90 $68690 2

Illinois

     
Bloomington 150 $56420 1.11
Carbondale 60 $79030 0.75
Marion 60 $79030 0.75
Champaign 140 $55300 0.95
Urbana 140 $55300 0.95
Decatur 100 $57550 1.37
Peoria 280 $54900 1.07
Rockford 250 $73910 1.19
Kankakee 60 $71340 1
Springfield 130 $66790 0.8

Indiana

     
Fort Wayne 370 $62250 1.22
Bloomington 90 $79490 0.98
Indianapolis 1540 $71110 1.07
Carmel 1540 $71110 1.07
Anderson 1540 $71110 1.07
Elkhart 190 $61980 1.08
Goshen 190 $61980 1.08
Kokomo 140 $68660 2.55
Lafayette 100 $72630 0.75
West Lafayette 100 $72630 0.75
Michigan City 70 $55210 1.28
La Porte 70 $55210 1.28
Muncie 90 $66230 1.38
Terre Haute 0 $68620 0

Iowa

     
Ames 70 $72060 1.07
Iowa City 130 $67920 1.02
Cedar Rapids 260 $69790 1.26
Des Moines 510 $71060 1.02
West Des Moines 510 $71060 1.02
Dubuque 0 $69300 0
Waterloo 0 $68270 0
Cedar Falls 0 $68270 0

Kansas

     
Lawrence 130 $77030 1.82
Manhattan 70 $67000 1.31
Topeka 200 $60700 1.28
Wichita 490 $67790 1.15

Kentucky

     
Bowling Green 0 $54300 0
Elizabethtown 50 $56940 0.62
Fort Knox 50 $56940 0.62
Owensboro 100 $54870 1.48
Lexington 210 $59580 0.54
Fayette 210 $59580 0.54

Louisiana

     
Alexandria 0 $68140 0
Baton Rouge 360 $65820 0.64
Houma 130 $64530 0.96
Thibodaux 130 $64530 0.96
Lafayette 260 $47110 0.82
Lake Charles 80 $42440 0.57
Monroe 130 $38980 1.19
New Orleans 620 $58490 0.76
Metairie 620 $58490 0.76
Shreveport 140 $46810 0.53
Bossier City 140 $46810 0.53

Maine

     
Lewiston 50 $69570 0.68
Auburn 50 $69570 0.68
Portland 460 $66070 1.58
South Portland 460 $66070 1.58
Bangor 0 $68140 0

Maryland

     
Baltimore 1690 $87030 0.89
Columbia 1690 $87030 0.89
Towson 1690 $87030 0.89
California 70 $89290 1.18
Lexington Park 70 $89290 1.18

Massachusetts

     
Leominster 120 $90670 1.69
Gardner 120 $90670 1.69
New Bedford 120 $73090 1.27
Pittsfield 90 $73760 1.59
Barnstable Town 250 $87920 1.68

Michigan

     
Ann Arbor 420 $67040 1.36
Battle Creek 90 $54660 1.14
Bay City 90 $59490 1.68
Flint 530 $60800 2.71
Grand Rapids 1130 $58860 1.49
Wyoming 1130 $58860 1.49
Jackson 120 $69360 1.35
Detroit 4560 $61970 1.65
Warren 4560 $61970 1.65
Dearborn 4560 $61970 1.65
Saginaw 240 $54870 1.99
Lansing 670 $61440 2.23
East Lansing 670 $61440 2.23
Kalamazoo 330 $60520 1.66
Portage 330 $60520 1.66
Monroe 80 $61750 1.47
Muskegon 130 $60360 1.41
Niles 90 $67270 1.07
Benton Harbor 90 $67270 1.07

Minnesota

     
Rochester 190 $68710 1.16
St. Cloud 200 $71470 1.34
Mankato 70 $67280 1
North Mankato 70 $67280 1

Mississippi

     
Gulfport 160 $65510 0.77
Biloxi 160 $65510 0.77
Pascagoula 160 $65510 0.77
Hattiesburg 70 $45390 0.79
Jackson 260 $57840 0.7

Missouri

     
Jefferson City 40 $72860 0.41
Columbia 180 $78470 1.34
Joplin 120 $62800 1.08
Springfield 290 $69970 1.03

Montana

     
Great Falls 80 $70380 1.48
Billings 180 $70010 1.47
Missoula 140 $71630 1.65

Nebraska

     
Grand Island 80 $60180 1.35
Lincoln 350 $69620 1.4

Nevada

     
Carson City 40 $89410 1.06
Reno 270 $96730 0.92
Las Vegas 1070 $86130 0.81
Henderson 1070 $86130 0.81
Paradise 1070 $86130 0.81

New Hampshire

     
Manchester 190 $78630 1.18

New Jersey

     
Atlantic City 90 $74520 0.51
Hammonton 90 $74520 0.51
Ocean City 0 $89660 0
Trenton 240 $73520 0.76
Vineland 120 $76330 1.39
Bridgeton 120 $76330 1.39

New Mexico

     
Albuquerque 480 $87560 0.88
Farmington 70 $86180 0.98
Las Cruces 180 $75290 1.73
Santa Fe 200 $86340 2.32

New York

     
Albany 570 $63820 0.89
Schenectady 570 $63820 0.89
Troy 570 $63820 0.89
Glens Falls 90 $66650 1.15
Ithaca 70 $65670 0.92
Buffalo 1030 $57310 1.31
Cheektowaga 1030 $57310 1.31
Niagara Falls 1030 $57310 1.31
Binghamton 240 $55830 1.62
Elmira 60 $63240 1.17
Kingston 80 $84440 0.94
Rochester 1050 $61260 1.42
Syracuse 570 $65640 1.29
Utica 190 $69480 1.08
Rome 190 $69480 1.08
Watertown 130 $53860 2.16
Fort Drum 130 $53860 2.16

North Carolina

     
Asheville 360 $54420 1.37
Fayetteville 210 $65130 1.16
Goldsboro 80 $65560 1.35
Greensboro 610 $60570 1.19
High Point 610 $60570 1.19
Greenville 90 $62870 0.87
Hickory 180 $67170 0.83
Lenoir 180 $67170 0.83
Morganton 180 $67170 0.83
Jacksonville 80 $58750 1.22
Burlington 130 $73130 1.6
Durham 300 $73580 0.71
Chapel Hill 300 $73580 0.71
Raleigh 870 $69510 1.06
Rocky Mount 0 $59360 0
New Bern 80 $65850 1.21
Wilmington 0 $72380 0
Winston 440 $70590 1.18
Salem 440 $70590 1.18

North Dakota

     
Bismarck 150 $67000 1.37

Ohio

     
Akron 510 $68970 1.09
Canton 190 $60060 0.78
Massillon 190 $60060 0.78
Cleveland 1410 $65410 0.95
Elyria 1410 $65410 0.95
Columbus 1280 $71990 0.87
Dayton 510 $70550 0.96
Lima 120 $58140 1.68
Mansfield 80 $66960 1.13
Springfield 70 $68690 0.95
Toledo 520 $64890 1.22

Oklahoma

     
Lawton 70 $69990 1.05
Oklahoma City 920 $73240 1.04
Tulsa 350 $75590 0.56

Oregon

     
Albany 120 $74960 2.07
Grants Pass 80 $89450 2.46
Bend 230 $79370 2.29
Redmond 230 $79370 2.29
Corvallis 110 $86340 2.13
Eugene 390 $82190 1.82
Salem 320 $74440 1.43
Medford 280 $87170 2.38

Pennsylvania

     
Altoona 60 $57990 0.75
Gettysburg 60 $68420 1.36
Harrisburg 420 $60550 0.91
Carlisle 420 $60550 0.91
Johnstown 80 $51530 0.96
Chambersburg 100 $64330 1.21
Waynesboro 100 $64330 1.21
East Stroudsburg 0 $63020 0
Erie 230 $54410 1.27
Pittsburgh 2170 $55800 1.32
Reading 260 $68040 1.04
Lancaster 570 $69030 1.69
Lebanon 60 $57270 0.82
Scranton 320 $51950 0.87
Wilkes 320 $51950 0.87
Barre 320 $51950 0.87
Hazleton 320 $51950 0.87
State College 160 $59110 1.67
Williamsport 50 $65390 0.68
York 300 $69190 1.17
Hanover 300 $69190 1.17

South Carolina

     
Florence 0 $46950 0
Greenville 450 $58700 0.8
Anderson 450 $58700 0.8
Mauldin 450 $58700 0.8
Hilton Head Island 90 $57900 0.91
Bluffton 90 $57900 0.91
Beaufort 90 $57900 0.91
Charleston 500 $62360 1.09
North Charleston 500 $62360 1.09
Columbia 510 $55700 0.97
Spartanburg 230 $55910 1.16
Sumter 40 $50560 0.79

South Dakota

     
Rapid City 100 $56480 1.1
Sioux Falls 190 $54640 0.89

Tennessee

     
Jackson 80 $53270 0.84
Johnson City 110 $65180 0.98
Cleveland 70 $65160 1.03
Knoxville 520 $71930 0.96
Morristown 30 $57490 0.53
Nashville 1430 $70090 1.11
Davidson 1430 $70090 1.11
Murfreesboro 1430 $70090 1.11
Franklin 1430 $70090 1.11

Texas

     
Abilene 100 $74260 1.01
Amarillo 110 $71000 0.64
Austin 1090 $74910 0.8
Round Rock 1090 $74910 0.8
Houston 2610 $73890 0.61
The Woodlands 2610 $73890 0.61
Sugar Land 2610 $73890 0.61
Beaumont 190 $68480 0.81
Port Arthur 190 $68480 0.81
Brownsville 90 $57750 0.48
Harlingen 90 $57750 0.48
College Station 90 $70570 0.64
Bryan 90 $70570 0.64
Corpus Christi 280 $69400 1.03
Dallas 4300 $75650 0.9
Fort Worth 4300 $75650 0.9
Arlington 4300 $75650 0.9
El Paso 370 $61620 0.88
San Antonio 1530 $70310 1.11
New Braunfels 1530 $70310 1.11
Laredo 0 $72710 0
Longview 110 $69720 0.75
Lubbock 160 $59420 0.8
McAllen 340 $66430 0.96
Edinburg 340 $66430 0.96
Mission 340 $66430 0.96
Midland 120 $72610 0.86
Killeen 80 $77090 0.4
Temple 80 $77090 0.4
Sherman 40 $80970 0.56
Denison 40 $80970 0.56
Tyler 180 $70800 1.26
Victoria 0 $62170 0
Waco 0 $72140 0
Wichita Falls 0 $72380 0

Utah

     
Provo 480 $74570 1.6
Orem 480 $74570 1.6
St. George 160 $66980 1.99
Salt Lake City 1030 $70450 1.08
Ogden 480 $68510 1.43
Clearfield 480 $68510 1.43

Vermont

     
Burlington 230 $63330 1.32
South Burlington 230 $63330 1.32

Virginia

     
Blacksburg 80 $77110 0.85
Christiansburg 80 $77110 0.85
Radford 80 $77110 0.85
Harrisonburg 0 $86960 0
Charlottesville 160 $79030 1.06
Richmond 670 $87310 0.75
Roanoke 140 $69270 0.63
Lynchburg 100 $72270 0.7
Staunton 60 $83490 0.8
Waynesboro 60 $83490 0.8

Washington

     
Bremerton 160 $94920 1.38
Silverdale 160 $94920 1.38
Bellingham 150 $92520 1.26
Longview 80 $94160 1.62
Mount Vernon 120 $91970 1.74
Anacortes 120 $91970 1.74
Kennewick 220 $87640 1.47
Richland 220 $87640 1.47
Olympia 230 $91900 1.56
Tumwater 230 $91900 1.56
Seattle 3340 $93050 1.26
Tacoma 3340 $93050 1.26
Bellevue 3340 $93050 1.26
Spokane 550 $85240 1.71
Spokane Valley 550 $85240 1.71
Walla Walla 50 $84550 1.29
Wenatchee 50 $90030 0.78
Yakima 210 $86720 1.74

West Virginia

     
Beckley 70 $50910 1.06
Charleston 210 $56960 1.23
Parkersburg 80 $61050 1.33
Vienna 80 $61050 1.33
Morgantown 80 $54580 0.89

Wisconsin

     
Appleton 190 $60440 1.08
Fond du Lac 70 $66440 1.07
Green Bay 290 $60960 1.19
Janesville 80 $62190 0.85
Beloit 80 $62190 0.85
Eau Claire 170 $67920 1.42
Oshkosh 170 $62730 1.27
Neenah 170 $62730 1.27
Racine 80 $64660 0.7
Madison 650 $62370 1.19
Milwaukee 1450 $66150 1.2
Waukesha 1450 $66150 1.2
West Allis 1450 $66150 1.2
Sheboygan 90 $65770 1.08
Wausau 200 $59310 2.04

Wyoming

     
Casper 90 $63810 1.45
Cheyenne 100 $72600 1.5
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Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Dental Hygienists

To find out more about building a career as Dental Hygienists, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

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Most Popular Industries (as of 2008) for:
Dental Hygienists

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Industry Jobs Percent Salary
(2008)
Medical Office 168,260 97% $66,770
Office Services And Staffing 2,000 1% $69,560
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