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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

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Dental Hygienists

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Dental Hygienists jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 670 $44,670
Hoover 670 $44,670
Huntsville 370 $51,450
Mobile 310 $42,120
Montgomery 270 $42,900
Fairhope 150 $43,160
Foley 150 $43,160
Daphne 150 $43,160
Dothan 140 $47,880
Gadsden 120 $30,260
Decatur 120 $44,970
Muscle Shoals 110 $42,680
Florence 110 $42,680
Tuscaloosa 110 $46,920
Auburn 100 $45,840
Opelika 100 $45,840
Anniston 90 $51,430
Oxford 90 $51,430
Jacksonville 90 $51,430
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 290 $86,640
Fairbanks 60 $90,410
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 2090 $87,320
Mesa 2090 $87,320
Phoenix 2090 $87,320
Tucson 500 $84,920
Prescott 130 $90,120
Kingman 110 $76,290
Lake Havasu City 110 $76,290
Yuma 70 $75,950
Flagstaff 60 $87,730
Douglas 40 $90,290
Sierra Vista 40 $90,290
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 430 $67,830
North Little Rock 430 $67,830
Little Rock 430 $67,830
Jonesboro 100 $71,610
Pine Bluff 40 $44,950
Hot Springs N/A $69,300
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 6870 $101,260
Anaheim 6870 $101,260
Los Angeles 6870 $101,260
Oakland 2890 $107,940
Hayward 2890 $107,940
San Francisco 2890 $107,940
Roseville 1970 $94,840
Arcade 1970 $94,840
Sacramento 1970 $94,840
Arden 1970 $94,840
Ontario 1560 $89,720
Riverside 1560 $89,720
San Bernardino 1560 $89,720
Carlsbad 1510 $87,230
San Diego 1510 $87,230
Santa Clara 1340 $97,830
Sunnyvale 1340 $97,830
San Jose 1340 $97,830
Oxnard 610 $97,400
Ventura 610 $97,400
Thousand Oaks 610 $97,400
Watsonville 340 $101,170
Santa Cruz 340 $101,170
Fresno 330 $86,980
Modesto 290 $72,520
Santa Rosa 270 $95,910
Stockton 260 $90,430
Lodi 260 $90,430
San Luis Obispo 240 $93,570
Paso Robles 240 $93,570
Arroyo Grande 240 $93,570
Bakersfield 230 $80,280
Santa Maria 210 $94,320
Santa Barbara 210 $94,320
Fairfield 210 $100,440
Vallejo 210 $100,440
Chico 200 $93,310
Visalia 190 $88,530
Porterville 190 $88,530
Napa 130 $91,770
Redding 80 $90,690
Yuba City 60 $90,750
Corcoran 40 $80,570
Hanford 40 $80,570
Salinas N/A $96,680
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 2850 $84,430
Lakewood 2850 $84,430
Denver 2850 $84,430
Colorado Springs 420 $73,680
Boulder 350 $83,410
Fort Collins 280 $74,520
Greeley 170 $75,350
Pueblo 110 $71,910
Grand Junction N/A $76,210
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 1360 $84,540
East Hartford 1360 $84,540
West Hartford 1360 $84,540
Bridgeport 1000 $81,980
Norwalk 1000 $81,980
Stamford 1000 $81,980
New Haven 680 $78,230
Danbury 230 $80,820
Waterbury 80 $90,800
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 110 $68,630
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 3040 $63,560
West Palm Beach 3040 $63,560
Fort Lauderdale 3040 $63,560
Tampa 1570 $70,180
St. Petersburg 1570 $70,180
Clearwater 1570 $70,180
Kissimmee 1290 $68,080
Orlando 1290 $68,080
Sanford 1290 $68,080
Jacksonville 850 $63,800
Bradenton 450 $67,310
North Port 450 $67,310
Sarasota 450 $67,310
Fort Myers 340 $65,770
Cape Coral 340 $65,770
Palm Bay 330 $69,280
Titusville 330 $69,280
Melbourne 330 $69,280
Brent 320 $57,000
Pensacola 320 $57,000
Ferry Pass 320 $57,000
Deltona 300 $61,900
Daytona Beach 300 $61,900
Ormond Beach 300 $61,900
Naples 250 $84,310
Marco Island 250 $84,310
Immokalee 250 $84,310
Gainesville 210 $58,100
Port St. Lucie 200 $70,360
Lakeland 180 $67,080
Winter Haven 180 $67,080
Tallahassee 160 $55,420
Crestview 160 $62,640
Destin 160 $62,640
Fort Walton Beach 160 $62,640
Ocala 160 $63,890
Panama City 130 $58,450
Sebastian 130 $61,430
Vero Beach 130 $61,430
The Villages 70 $59,480
Sebring 60 $70,580
Homosassa Springs 40 $56,920
Punta Gorda N/A $69,560
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 2810 $70,680
Sandy Springs 2810 $70,680
Atlanta 2810 $70,680
Savannah 320 $65,230
Macon 160 $51,430
Gainesville 130 $59,410
Clarke County 120 $57,980
Athens 120 $57,980
Valdosta 110 $48,830
Albany 110 $50,110
Warner Robins 90 $50,500
Rome 70 $63,370
Brunswick N/A $49,180
Dalton N/A $66,420
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 690 $73,570
Lahaina 90 $70,860
Wailuku 90 $70,860
Kahului 90 $70,860
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 730 $72,310
Idaho Falls 160 $72,690
Coeur d'Alene 130 $89,780
Pocatello 90 $68,690
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 280 $54,900
Rockford 250 $73,910
Bloomington 150 $56,420
Urbana 140 $55,300
Champaign 140 $55,300
Springfield 130 $66,790
Decatur 100 $57,550
Kankakee 60 $71,340
Marion 60 $79,030
Carbondale 60 $79,030
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 1540 $71,110
Carmel 1540 $71,110
Indianapolis 1540 $71,110
Fort Wayne 370 $62,250
Elkhart 190 $61,980
Goshen 190 $61,980
Kokomo 140 $68,660
Lafayette 100 $72,630
West Lafayette 100 $72,630
Muncie 90 $66,230
Bloomington 90 $79,490
La Porte 70 $55,210
Michigan City 70 $55,210
Terre Haute N/A $68,620
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 510 $71,060
Des Moines 510 $71,060
Cedar Rapids 260 $69,790
Iowa City 130 $67,920
Ames 70 $72,060
Waterloo N/A $68,270
Cedar Falls N/A $68,270
Dubuque N/A $69,300
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 490 $67,790
Topeka 200 $60,700
Lawrence 130 $77,030
Manhattan 70 $67,000
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lexington 210 $59,580
Fayette 210 $59,580
Owensboro 100 $54,870
Fort Knox 50 $56,940
Elizabethtown 50 $56,940
Bowling Green N/A $54,300
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 620 $58,490
Metairie 620 $58,490
Baton Rouge 360 $65,820
Lafayette 260 $47,110
Bossier City 140 $46,810
Shreveport 140 $46,810
Monroe 130 $38,980
Houma 130 $64,530
Thibodaux 130 $64,530
Lake Charles 80 $42,440
Alexandria N/A $68,140
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 460 $66,070
Portland 460 $66,070
Lewiston 50 $69,570
Auburn 50 $69,570
Bangor N/A $68,140
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baltimore 1690 $87,030
Towson 1690 $87,030
Columbia 1690 $87,030
Lexington Park 70 $89,290
California 70 $89,290
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 250 $87,920
New Bedford 120 $73,090
Leominster 120 $90,670
Gardner 120 $90,670
Pittsfield 90 $73,760
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 4560 $61,970
Detroit 4560 $61,970
Dearborn 4560 $61,970
Grand Rapids 1130 $58,860
Wyoming 1130 $58,860
East Lansing 670 $61,440
Lansing 670 $61,440
Flint 530 $60,800
Ann Arbor 420 $67,040
Portage 330 $60,520
Kalamazoo 330 $60,520
Saginaw 240 $54,870
Muskegon 130 $60,360
Jackson 120 $69,360
Battle Creek 90 $54,660
Bay City 90 $59,490
Niles 90 $67,270
Benton Harbor 90 $67,270
Monroe 80 $61,750
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 200 $71,470
Rochester 190 $68,710
North Mankato 70 $67,280
Mankato 70 $67,280
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 260 $57,840
Gulfport 160 $65,510
Pascagoula 160 $65,510
Biloxi 160 $65,510
Hattiesburg 70 $45,390
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 290 $69,970
Columbia 180 $78,470
Joplin 120 $62,800
Jefferson City 40 $72,860
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 180 $70,010
Missoula 140 $71,630
Great Falls 80 $70,380
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 350 $69,620
Grand Island 80 $60,180
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 1070 $86,130
Henderson 1070 $86,130
Las Vegas 1070 $86,130
Reno 270 $96,730
Carson City 40 $89,410
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 190 $78,630
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 240 $73,520
Bridgeton 120 $76,330
Vineland 120 $76,330
Atlantic City 90 $74,520
Hammonton 90 $74,520
Ocean City N/A $89,660
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 480 $87,560
Santa Fe 200 $86,340
Las Cruces 180 $75,290
Farmington 70 $86,180
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 1050 $61,260
Niagara Falls 1030 $57,310
Cheektowaga 1030 $57,310
Buffalo 1030 $57,310
Albany 570 $63,820
Schenectady 570 $63,820
Troy 570 $63,820
Syracuse 570 $65,640
Binghamton 240 $55,830
Utica 190 $69,480
Rome 190 $69,480
Fort Drum 130 $53,860
Watertown 130 $53,860
Glens Falls 90 $66,650
Kingston 80 $84,440
Ithaca 70 $65,670
Elmira 60 $63,240
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 870 $69,510
Greensboro 610 $60,570
High Point 610 $60,570
Winston 440 $70,590
Salem 440 $70,590
Asheville 360 $54,420
Chapel Hill 300 $73,580
Durham 300 $73,580
Fayetteville 210 $65,130
Hickory 180 $67,170
Lenoir 180 $67,170
Morganton 180 $67,170
Burlington 130 $73,130
Greenville 90 $62,870
Jacksonville 80 $58,750
Goldsboro 80 $65,560
New Bern 80 $65,850
Rocky Mount N/A $59,360
Wilmington N/A $72,380
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 150 $67,000
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 1410 $65,410
Cleveland 1410 $65,410
Columbus 1280 $71,990
Toledo 520 $64,890
Akron 510 $68,970
Dayton 510 $70,550
Canton 190 $60,060
Massillon 190 $60,060
Lima 120 $58,140
Mansfield 80 $66,960
Springfield 70 $68,690
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 920 $73,240
Tulsa 350 $75,590
Lawton 70 $69,990
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 390 $82,190
Salem 320 $74,440
Medford 280 $87,170
Redmond 230 $79,370
Bend 230 $79,370
Albany 120 $74,960
Corvallis 110 $86,340
Grants Pass 80 $89,450
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 2170 $55,800
Lancaster 570 $69,030
Carlisle 420 $60,550
Harrisburg 420 $60,550
Wilkes 320 $51,950
Barre 320 $51,950
Hazleton 320 $51,950
Scranton 320 $51,950
York 300 $69,190
Hanover 300 $69,190
Reading 260 $68,040
Erie 230 $54,410
State College 160 $59,110
Chambersburg 100 $64,330
Waynesboro 100 $64,330
Johnstown 80 $51,530
Lebanon 60 $57,270
Altoona 60 $57,990
Gettysburg 60 $68,420
Williamsport 50 $65,390
East Stroudsburg N/A $63,020
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbia 510 $55,700
North Charleston 500 $62,360
Charleston 500 $62,360
Mauldin 450 $58,700
Greenville 450 $58,700
Anderson 450 $58,700
Spartanburg 230 $55,910
Bluffton 90 $57,900
Hilton Head Island 90 $57,900
Beaufort 90 $57,900
Sumter 40 $50,560
Florence N/A $46,950
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 190 $54,640
Rapid City 100 $56,480
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 1430 $70,090
Davidson 1430 $70,090
Murfreesboro 1430 $70,090
Nashville 1430 $70,090
Knoxville 520 $71,930
Johnson City 110 $65,180
Jackson 80 $53,270
Cleveland 70 $65,160
Morristown 30 $57,490
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 4300 $75,650
Arlington 4300 $75,650
Fort Worth 4300 $75,650
Sugar Land 2610 $73,890
The Woodlands 2610 $73,890
Houston 2610 $73,890
New Braunfels 1530 $70,310
San Antonio 1530 $70,310
Round Rock 1090 $74,910
Austin 1090 $74,910
El Paso 370 $61,620
McAllen 340 $66,430
Edinburg 340 $66,430
Mission 340 $66,430
Corpus Christi 280 $69,400
Beaumont 190 $68,480
Port Arthur 190 $68,480
Tyler 180 $70,800
Lubbock 160 $59,420
Midland 120 $72,610
Longview 110 $69,720
Amarillo 110 $71,000
Abilene 100 $74,260
Brownsville 90 $57,750
Harlingen 90 $57,750
Bryan 90 $70,570
College Station 90 $70,570
Temple 80 $77,090
Killeen 80 $77,090
Denison 40 $80,970
Sherman 40 $80,970
Victoria N/A $62,170
Waco N/A $72,140
Wichita Falls N/A $72,380
Laredo N/A $72,710
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 1030 $70,450
Clearfield 480 $68,510
Ogden 480 $68,510
Provo 480 $74,570
Orem 480 $74,570
St. George 160 $66,980
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 230 $63,330
Burlington 230 $63,330
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 670 $87,310
Charlottesville 160 $79,030
Roanoke 140 $69,270
Lynchburg 100 $72,270
Radford 80 $77,110
Christiansburg 80 $77,110
Blacksburg 80 $77,110
Staunton 60 $83,490
Waynesboro 60 $83,490
Harrisonburg N/A $86,960
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tacoma 3340 $93,050
Seattle 3340 $93,050
Bellevue 3340 $93,050
Spokane 550 $85,240
Spokane Valley 550 $85,240
Tumwater 230 $91,900
Olympia 230 $91,900
Richland 220 $87,640
Kennewick 220 $87,640
Yakima 210 $86,720
Bremerton 160 $94,920
Silverdale 160 $94,920
Bellingham 150 $92,520
Anacortes 120 $91,970
Mount Vernon 120 $91,970
Longview 80 $94,160
Walla Walla 50 $84,550
Wenatchee 50 $90,030
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 210 $56,960
Morgantown 80 $54,580
Vienna 80 $61,050
Parkersburg 80 $61,050
Beckley 70 $50,910
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Milwaukee 1450 $66,150
Waukesha 1450 $66,150
West Allis 1450 $66,150
Madison 650 $62,370
Green Bay 290 $60,960
Wausau 200 $59,310
Appleton 190 $60,440
Neenah 170 $62,730
Oshkosh 170 $62,730
Eau Claire 170 $67,920
Sheboygan 90 $65,770
Janesville 80 $62,190
Beloit 80 $62,190
Racine 80 $64,660
Fond du Lac 70 $66,440
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne 100 $72,600
Casper 90 $63,810

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.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Dental Hygienists

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

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Medical Office 168,260 97% $66,770
Office Services And Staffing 2,000 1% $69,560
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Get Info links.
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Dental Hygienists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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