Dental Hygienist Review

Working as a dental hygienist is perfect for outgoing people interested in a stable job with an excellent salary. Advancement opportunities in this field are limited, however.

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The Good

Excellent earning potential

A career as a dental hygienist is one of the highest-paying vocational jobs you can find. The average income for a dental hygienist is over $70,000 per year, and some offices offer great benefits, including vacation and sick days. Actual salary depends on the particular dentist’s office and the cost of living in the area. If you live in a city, you might even be able to make upwards of $95,000, while some rural dwellers may make around $45,000. Regardless of where you work, you’ll make significantly more than the national average income, which should give you some peace of mind if you’re looking for a stable career with a stable income.

Plenty of part-time opportunities

Today, more dental hygienists work part time than full time, which is great news if you’re looking for a job that fits right in with your busy schedule. Typically, dental hygienists work a few days each week during regular business hours and don’t have to work nights or weekends. If you’re interested in full-time work, there are some offices that offer them. Otherwise, what many hygienists do is work part time for multiple dentists in order to achieve a full-time schedule. This flexibility also makes it easy to transition between a full-time and part-time career or vice versa.

Great for those with strong people skills

Dental hygienists regularly interact with patients, so it’s important for them to communicate well with others. Many people feel ill at ease in a dentist’s office, so part of a hygienist’s job is making the patient feel comfortable and relaxed for the duration of their visit. This task is well-suited to friendly characters with strong interpersonal skills. Hygienists also work closely with dentists and dental assistants to provide care for patients, so it’s also critical for them to work well within a team.

Thousands of new jobs

As more and more people gain access to health insurance, dental services are going to be in high demand. Consequently, more dental hygienists will be needed to accommodate the increased number of patients. Over 64,000 new jobs are expected to open up in the coming decade — that’s about a 33% increase in the number of available dental hygienist positions. This is triple the average growth rate across all careers in the U.S. If you’re thinking about going into this field, you couldn’t ask for a better job outlook.

The Bad

Few opportunities to advance

Unless you plan on going back to school to become a dentist, there isn’t much room to advance beyond a dental hygienist job. This limited upward mobility isn’t much of a concern for many dental hygienists because they already make a fairly decent income. However, if you’re interested in a job that’s offers you plenty of room to grow, explore other options that might better suit you.

Physically strenuous role

Dental hygienists spend much of their day sitting or standing and leaning over patients to get a better view of their teeth. This can get uncomfortable after a while, especially if you already have existing neck and back issues or have back-to-back patients. Physical discomfort obviously differs from person to person, but it’s still something to keep in mind before committing to a job as a dental hygienist.

The Details


  • Career Growth (2012-2022): 33%
  • Median Pay: $70,210
  • Number of Jobs: 192,800
  • Number of New Jobs (2012-2022): 64,200

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