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What You Can Expect to Make as a Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienist

Have you ever thought that it might be a good idea for you to change careers? Perhaps you even considered something like becoming a dental hygienist. Obviously, you would want to know more about the job such as the type of requirements that you would be expected to fill as well as the amount of money that you could potentially make. It's also a good idea to inquire about the types of conditions you would normally be expected to work in along with hours and potential benefits. Only then can you get a real picture about the career as a whole, which will obviously help you decide whether or not it's for you.

What Is a Dental Hygienist?

In reality, a dental hygienist is someone who helps the dentist with virtually anything that he or she needs. You might think of it in the same way that you would think of a medical assistant who helps a doctor. It isn't always the same from one day to the next. In fact, each day can be quite different. Depending on the office where you work, you might be doing everything from providing direct assistance to the dentist when a patient is being treated to performing a number of office duties. It isn't exactly the same thing in every office, so it's important to inquire about exactly what you will be expected to do as part of your regular duties whenever you are applying for a job at any particular location. That way, there aren't any unpleasant surprises involved once you finally land a job.


In order to become a dental hygienist, you have to go to college. Typically, you're looking at a four-year degree but in some cases, you might be able to get an entry-level job in an office with an associate's degree, provided that you are willing to go to college at the same time you're working in order to eventually obtain your bachelor's. Like most medical jobs, a degree as a dental hygienist will require you to perform a certain amount of hours in an actual office as part of your degree completion. If you already have a bachelor's degree and you're thinking about changing careers, you'll probably be happy to know that you can complete the course work that is specific to this particular field as opposed to going through an entire additional four years of education.

How Much Can You Make?

It's important to remember that having a career as a dental hygienist isn't really that different from a lot of other career choices that you could potentially make. The amount of money that you can make can vary a great deal. Typically, it depends on not only the particular state in which you live, but also the city where you decide to work. In many cases, it comes down to the exact location, as you can reasonably expect to make more in an upscale office located in a posh neighborhood as compared to working in a run-down building that sits in a neighborhood where poverty is running rampant. If you're looking to get an idea of how much you can reasonably expect to make, you might be happy to know that the median income for dental hygienists is $35.61 per hour. If you work a normal 40-hour week, that comes out to $74,070 per year. It's important to note a couple of things here. As previously mentioned, this amount can go up or down by quite a lot, depending on the exact location where you work. In addition, these figures are the most recent median income figures available for this particular career field. However, they were published in May 2017 so it would only be reasonable to assume that the figures have changed somewhat since then.

Breaking It Down

If you still want to know more, it's probably because you want to gain as much information as possible before you consider making a career change or potentially entering a field that may not suit your financial needs. Remember, $35.61 per hour is the median salary. That means that you can expect to make more than this in some cases, but it also means that in some instances you will be making less. In order to break that down further, imagine that you start working in an office that serves a lot of financially disadvantaged individuals. In such a setting, you can typically expect to start out making approximately $55,755. If you eventually move into an office that serves mostly middle-class individuals or you're working in a small town, that amount goes up slightly, to approximately $63,400. If you really want to kick things up a notch and work in a more upscale office that serves clients who have more money, you could start out making as much as $70,361.

Income Varies by State

It's also important to remember that your income will vary a great deal according to the state in which you live. For example, someone living in New Mexico is likely to make a much lower median wage as a dental hygienist than a person living in Alaska. To further clarify things, that person in New Mexico can expect to make approximately $89,740 per year while someone in Alaska makes considerably more, something to the tune of $107,190 per year. Why is there such a difference? It comes down to two things. First and foremost, New Mexico as a whole is a much poorer state than Alaska. As such, you can't expect to make as much money doing anything there as you could potentially make in Alaska. Second, there are more dental hygienists available in New Mexico than there are in Alaska because the Alaskan population as a whole doesn't involve that many people, and even fewer of them have college degrees. As a result, there are fewer jobs available in Alaska but when you find one, you have the potential to make a lot more money.

Now that you know how much you can potentially make as a dental hygienist as well as what might be required of you in order to do it, you can make a more educated decision about whether or not this might potentially be a career that would suit your needs. The most important thing to remember is that it's not that different from anything else in the sense that if you work hard and dedicate yourself to it, you have the potential to make enough money to be comfortable and then some. Perhaps the most important thing you should be asking yourself is whether or not you think you could enjoy working in this particular field. If the answer is yes, then you have the opportunity to do something you like and also make money in the process. If you don't think you can enjoy it, it's best to keep searching, no matter how much you could potentially make.

Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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