Dental Hygienist Salary

Dental Hygienist Salary

Dental hygienists are responsible for cleaning patients' teeth, taking dental x rays, and educating people about proper hygiene. Typically dental hygienists are paid by the hour rather than salaried. There are some dental practices that pay hygienists on a commission plan where they also earn a percentage of the profits from what they sell or how much work they produce in a day.

Another potential positive draw for this line of work is how quickly you may be able to enter the workforce. A two year associate degree is the minimum requirement needed to practice, which could mean that you are able to begin earning sooner than careers that require a higher degree.

Job TitleBottom 10% Annual WageAnnual Median WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Dental Assistants-U.S.$26,170$37,630$53,130
Dental Hygienists-U.S.$51,180$74,070$101,330
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Is it difficult to find a job in this field?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics dental hygiene is one of the faster growing occupations. As technology advances in the field of dental health demand for qualified people to fill these roles may occur. The American Care Act is also expected to expand the number of people with health insurance so there may be more individuals who need to visit the dentist, possibly prompting the need for more hygienists.

Job TitleProjected Job Growth Rate
Dental Assistants-U.S.19.5%
Dental Hygienists-U.S.19.6%
Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Is there room for advancement in this field?

You may be able to advance within the individual practice you work for, but the advancement in the field is very limited. The next step in the employment chain would be to become a full dentist, which would require several more years of school.

Are there any licensing requirements for this field?

Every state requires a dental hygienist to be licensed in order to practice. This is handled by the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA). In order to earn this license the ADHA recommends you complete the following steps:

  • Graduate with a degree from an accredited dental hygiene program
  • Take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
  • Complete a state or regional clinical board exam
  • Earn CPR certification
  • Submit high school and postsecondary transcripts, as well as letters of recommendation from licensed dentists in the state you wish to earn your license
  • Letters from your state or regional board of dentistry

As each state has particular requirements you should visit their individual boards of dentistry to find out which steps you need to take to obtain your license.


Dental Hygienists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012,


Licensure, American Dental hygienists' Association,


Dental Hygienist Schools