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The 10 Best Jobs of 2012: 4 - Dental Hygienist

dental hygienist

Assists dentists in diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of a group or private dental practice.

  • Overall Score: 289.00
  • Income: $68,109.00

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change in people's life makes it so rewarding. once i graduate am looking into other postgraduate degrees. You have to have the right attitude, and you have got to have the passion for what you do, otherwise you want succeed, i was never in it for the money.callus removal products

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people's life makes it so rewarding. once i graduate am looking into other postgraduate degrees. You have to have the right attitude, and you have got to have the passion for what you do, otherwise you want succeed, i was never in it for the instagram likes spread

Love it!!!

For those who say that its hard to find a job, i have got 1 more year to go in the degree, and i have 2 job offers in hand. Its very important to have connections when in this field, during my degree i have been working as a dental nurse, which helps in providing real life experience to what it would be out there when you graduate. I am loving and enjoying it, and so excited. this job is  not only about the money, although here in australia we get paid pretty good in private practice, ranging from $45 to $60/hr. it's about meeting different people, having a chance to make a change in people's life makes it so rewarding. once i graduate am looking into other postgraduate degrees. You have to have the right attitude, and you have got to have the passion for what you do, otherwise you want succeed, i was never in it for the money. 

Run like the wind

Don't believe this report.  This field has a HIGH burn out rate.  You will be working for money hungry people who don't respect you on people who don't respect their own mouth, how can they respect you.  You will hate it in a few years.  Go ask some on the street.  In the office they have to be nice. On these boards they are encouraging you to go to school, are they being paid to separate you from your money... alterior motive?  


There is always room for a "good" Hygienist to find employment... I went back to school at age 51 and found a job 1 month after graduation.  I am on my second job now so as to be closer to home.  Most of my patients thank me for my work and the 4 dentists I have worked for have all treated me fairly and with respect.  Frankly, having had my teeth cleaned by other hygienists over these many years, and not knowing any better, I have come to realize there are "good" hygienists and then there are the rest.  I don't care what level of degree makes you feel proudest, just keep in mind, a monkey could clean teeth once shown how; the distinguishing feature of a "good" hygienist is one who genuinely cares enough about people to make a positive difference in THEIR life --- not how well he or she memorized Wilkins, Mosby or Malamed to graduate from an AS/BS or MS program... in the final analysis, you're only as good and your patients believe you are!

Would like your input

I hope you don't mind me responding to your comment. I am 48yrs old and recently divorced, looking at going back to a technical college here in my town to become a dental hygienist. Am wonderng if it is a good fit for my age and if I will be able to find employment afterwards. The cost is alot of money and would have to take out loans to pay for it but would hope to recoupe it once employed. Thought of the nursing field as well, but am still raising two teenage daughters too. Please respond and apprecieate any POSITIVE input I can get... everything I read is oh,so  negative about this field.thank you for your help, 

My Take

I’m a MALE Hygienist.  99.1% are WOMEN. I’m white 92.5% are white.  (Should these FACTS be investigated for discrimination?) I have never heard anyone being paid over $28/hr.  Full Time may mean 3 days a week, 40 hours a week, nights or Saturdays.  I dropped of around 280 Dental Resumes in person!!!!! A Dentist did take many resumes to hand to colleagues.  It has great times; You are really helping most people.   I feel Dentistry is more about the money. Dentists are losing money and they are the owners! I have 2 degrees a BA and a BSDH, I could do local anesthetic and nitrous oxide analgesia and I started one day a week $20/hour, 11 months later I was making $22/hour and working 16 hours a week and subbing for other hygienists in the Office.  I left and am now looking for work. Last month, I substituted 2 days it was 1 hour and 10 minutes away. Last month I made $357.  My student loans are an income based plan and because I’m 150% below the National poverty level I am not forced to pay anything immediately (only the $724.15 a month loan) I have to pay $340 in student loans every month.  So many other bills.  I’m applying for employment to gas stations, subways, dairy farms and Meijer’s.  I have a stigma of unemployment a dead beat and a weight around my family members neck.  There are many classmates graduating with similar credentials that slid into jobs.  I am not so blessed. But I am Blessed.  There are rewarding aspects of providing care to people.  We want to do what’s best ethically for our patients.  It’s a very challenging career.  Patients are not always grateful; some will not care about you at all.  Its hardest when you get to know your patients and they experience lose in their personal life, or those who are trying to prevent dental problems and are simply unlucky. I had 7 cavities diagnosed my 1st visit to a dentist and had pain.  It’s also expensive, being a part of the ADHA is over $300.  Continuing education costs money and work uniforms can be $30 a set. My advice is this every job is tough, and you’ll have tough times (most likely) penny-pinching paying bills paycheck-to-paycheck, but helping others is a great and is very rewarding. Again, this is just me; Your experiences could be very smooth sliding into a Job being at the right spot at the right time. Good Luck hope I helped and I hope Dental Hygiene will become more diverse.  If you can bring diversity or are bilingual I’d strongly suggest looking into dental hygiene. AS for other Guys, got to be ready to explain to everyone why you’re in the job you have committed to and have people wonder about your sexuality. There was another guy in my class that is now in dental school, a coarse I may try again to go down.   

It will get better.

Sorry you are having a rough time right now. I have been practicing for 25 years. When I first started in 1990 there was an overload of hygienist where I live. I had to travel and work out of town. Now its the overload of hygienists and the cutbacks the dentist makes effect us. I currently work 2 1/2 days and am in the same boat as you pinching pennies. I saw a shift when managed care came about in the 90's. The government has been working a numbers game on the business owners and the American public. Just like the Senators are doing with Obamacare. The patient has to pay more out of packet for services. Hygiene by definition doesn't do "healthy mouth cleaning" on 2/3 of thier patients so we are making money on SRP, PMP, PRO1/PRO2, FMD, 3mrc and 4mrc along with products. It is to the dentist benefit to employee 2-3 hygienists. Alot of people are waiting to see what is going to happen the others are being proactive incase they should not be able to afford the new policies and some just keep coming because thats what they have always done. Don't get discouraged. Look on Craigslist/jobs /medical/health type in dental hygienist. You may have to go to work on the road. But keep applying in your hometown. Location/location is what you need to consider. I only know of four other male hygienists. They have never said that they felt being a male has set them apart. The doctors they have worked for have been both males and females. I wonder if the lack of openings in your area is the route of your problem?

the truth - Dentists are nice but greedy !

im a dental receptionist. i have worked there for 5 years. I used to want to be a RDH, however, i realized that the demand of this profession has greatly decresed due to several factors: 1. dentists want to clean teeth now instead of paying somebody for example in the practice i work for my dentist will call the hygenist and cut her day  because if ye schedule has a lot of dentistry and little to no dentistry than he might as well do it cuz he wouldnt be doing anything other than watching her work!1. the RDHs get paid a lot per hour, i believe 28+ an hour which they trully deserved ! but dentists see this as too much for something they can do. 3. hygenists in our practice and other dental practices i have worked at get sent home early if the patiens cancelled ! 4. they dont have any benefits NOR maternity leave ! 5. no benefits and on top of that their schedule is based on us the receptionists !i for example always try to keep their schedule busy because i feel bad for them - cutting their hours 6.i have seem RHDs going home or going to do sum time the time they long have patients because if they are schedule for 8 hours but only have 4 patients then the other 4 hours they dont get paid so might as well go do something on ur own, i usually get their phone numbers to call them in case i have  walk in patient ! 7. and last many RHDs come by to drop their resumes and i have asked them how long have they been looking and told me that they have been temporary workers for at least two years because dentists dont want to hire for full time but preferred on call basis !our hygenist works less than three days and sometimes less. The profession pays well .. when you have days of work ... the other days u earn less than a restaurant dish washer because this RHDs earn zero !how can dentists not offer benefits to their staff ??? no dental assistant, receptionist and many but many RHDs have NO benefits 401k ! :( 


I'm sorry that you have had the problems that you have. I would lilke to point out one thing that may have to do with your lack of success in this field. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that you have two bachelors' degrees and write the way that you do.I  don't know if you speak in the same fashion as you write but frankly you come across as unedeucated and in a field that is entirely customer service oriented I would have a hard time hiring you in my practice and allowing you to interact with my patients. As for the pay I have three hygienists working for me and all of them make more than $28/hr.My practice is in Indiana and because it's the midwest the pay is perhaps slightly lower than one might find in other regions. I think hygiene is a fantastic field for a person to get into and I hope that people don't read your review and think that it is a career not worth pursuing. Good luck in the future with all your endeavors

  I am not an English Major

  I am not an English Major so please forgive any errors I may make in expressing my opinion.  I have work in the healthcare field for 24 years, so my observations are base on being a healthcare worker, not just a hygienist.  I have enjoyed the field of Dental Hygiene for nine years.  My favorite hygiene teacher said hygienist are “agent of change…she could teach a monkey to clean teeth.”  I have been blessed to change many patients future dental health.  Many patients were regular dental patient for years at other offices but have been greatly underserved and educated by previous dental workers.  I agree with the other male hygienist.  After 9 years as a Dental Hygienist, I found myself underemployed.  I have been working through an agency 0-4 days a week.  I have worked in Dental “Spas” and Dental mills. Professional ethics problems are rampant.  Production requirement, Arestin quotas, RPS four mm pockets with no radiographic bone lose, improper sterilization tech. are just a few example.  I will continue to seek full time in a field were my patients tell me “That is the best cleaning I ever had.” PS Your post has two spelling error and several grammar mistakes. 

I'm glad I read your reply!

I'm going into Dental Hygiene and let me just say that that guy had me slightly worried for a minute. Thankyou for giving your input, I feel good about my decision again! (You nailed it about finding it difficult to believe he has 2 bachelor degrees- I laughed out loud when I read that.)

Dental hygienist

I have arch a dental hygienist for going on 32 years a and have a bachelor of science from the university of Maryland. I currently work in an office with three other hygienists. I have been there12 years and some up to 24. The other ladies have associates debar degree. I make less than all of the because I have bthere less less time. They are all very competent.I think the thing that I learned more of was treating the body as a whole as we studied cadavers with dental students and perhaps more in depth histology and pathology so maybe I learned more but as far as working on patients a two year degree offers definitely adequate education and perhaps if I had to  do it all over I would get my two year degree to do what I do. Actually I would probably go into physical therapy or the like since in the 32 years I have done this, only two dentists I worked for were not greedy.  They will lessen your benefits in whatever way they can.  The hygienists need to get along and no one should think they are better than another. Unite!


Is DH a bad profession to go into? I love dentistry but you guys are speakibg so negatively in scared to go into it! Is it hard to find job? I'm 18.. I need to know if I have kids will I be able to support them? 

So why not

Seriously, check out the nursing program.  There are so many more job options when you get out of school.  I would never encourage my children to persue a career in hygiene.  If it wasn't for my husband we would be homeless at this time.  I need to work in retail for extra money.  I wish I went to school for teaching or nursing.  Now I can't afford to go back to school to change careers...What was I thinking?  My guidance counselor was worthless in high school and now they get paid over 100K per year. With awesome benefits summers off all with my tax $.  Now that's a job I should of thought about.  But then again my guidance counselor never helped me with my career choices.

bad degree? very

I have been a hygienist for 25 years and yes it is a bad profession.No real benefits like retirement or health insurance. Then you don't really make enough to pay for it yourself. It may sound like alot but 50,000 a year for 4 years of school is not enough. And it's hard on your neck/back so there are always chiro bills. Do something else with your money that pays.

Dental Hygiene School

There is a school in UTAH (UCDH) that I went to and loved it. 

Hey so you went to UCDH! I am

Hey so you went to UCDH! I am gonna go there.....what did you like about it?



Not here

Not all states let you open your own practice.  The dentists are holding us back.  So many schools and nursing homes and groups home would benefit from a dental hygienist.  The dentists have changed.  I have been practicing for 19 years as a hygienist and the new dentists cram the hygiene patients in their schedule now to save money.  Last year I learned what a QP stood for for the Medicaid patients. If a hygienist could open a practice in NJ we would take those patients and properly scale and prophy!  No benefits, no health insurance, and they send you home when your schedule falls apart!  Should have went for nursing.

all caps rageeeeeee

all caps rageeeeeee

I was a dental assistant for

I was a dental assistant for 25 years, and decided to go back to sschool to become a hygienest thinking that the money will make me fall in love with the profession again. Boy was I wrong. 3/4 of the way through the program I realized that is was the same old shit just a different degree and pay. I finished the course and havent touched a mouth since. I went back to school and got my BS in Human Resources and now I am working on my Masters in Business Administration. I finally found my dream job. I sit in a cubical and push papers. love it, I dont have to speak with anyone one, I dont have to deal with women and their drama, and I have HEALTH INSURANCE.


Trust me. If you are thinking about dental hygiene DON'T DO IT!!!I am not trying to scare anyone or coax out any "competition" it is what it is. I was unemployed for 9 months (even with 5 years of dental assissting background) and when i did find a job it was great... for a short while. 1 year into "full time" with this office has shown me dentists are greedy, most pay us per patient NOT per hour (so if im there 10-8 which is standard, and i only see 4 patients throughout the day, i get paid for 4 hours... 6 hours wasted waiting).Then the pushing part comes into play. Every dentist out there wants you to bill bill bill. Insurance companies are quickly figuring this out hence the lowering of coverage. It is not a good field to get into, long days, evenings and weekends, dropping pay (some girls i know are working for $24), and no benefits. Re reading what i have written makes me want to consider going back to school for a more promising career. Pathetic, huh?

in agreement

I don't think the actual "job" of a RDH is bad.  I love my patients.  And cleaning teeth is not hard.  I feel bad for the new students, because I feel, in most cases, the schools need a reality check.  Most of the instructors talk about the industry as it was 20+ years ago.  I only graduated 6 years ago, with an associate's degree (and believe me, it's more than 2 years).  I've had instruments thrown my direction, snares from the dentist because the patient didn't schedule the crown prep he/she didn't need anyway. Even have been yelled at in the middle of the office for something that I have nothing to do with.  ...  Nothing is guaranteed. You may take a job for 3 - 8 hour days, but they will cut your hours and condense your schedule.  I don't receive any benefits, and I don't just mean medical.  I am at their beck and call on a weekly basis, I have been scheduled for full days and the day before I'm told it's only a half day.  I don't get a paid day off at all.  No vacation days, no sick days.  I've also been told there is a full schedule and I can come in sick ????  It's either feast or famine, I have full 8 hour days with no lunch/dinner break. I'm told by other staff I make enough per hour, I don't need a break.  Sounds like a fun career huh?  And, by the way, our market is saturated due to 3 schools in the area graduating 75+ girls per year.  Relocating is not an option, I'm not the bread-winner in the family (with this career, you can't be).

Wow, anonymous, my sentiments

Wow, anonymous, my sentiments exactly!  I have been a dental hygienist for 34 years and the majority of dentists (and often the rest of the staff) treat us like expensive necessary evils.  In my current job I have much the same situation as you.  Good hourly pay, but that is it.  No vacation, no sick days, no holiday pay and have my schedule condensed  regularly, sometimes as much as a full day.  Then, I get to sit through the quarterly staff meetings, listen to the boss say he loves to hand out bonuses because that is his way of motivating his staff and thanking them for their hard work.  He then hands everyone a bonus check except for me.  why?  Well, because I already make "so much money", of course!  Even though my production goes toward their bonuses.  when you consider what I don't get, we all make about the same.Amazingly, they did add me to the 401K plan last month. That was a nice surprise.Would love to start over with a new career but not sure where to start.


Did your AS Degree cover spelling (or how to use spell check)?


Look everyone, it's a jerk trying to be superior by making fun of someone's spelling.  I guess it's easier for someone of your intellect to focus on spelling than the actual comprehension of the comments.  

Be nice

Why don't you instead of read carefully about what she has to say, you focus on the stupid spellin mistake which is not that important and it is not what the subject is all about.  Be nice I mean be human 

I was thinking of becoming a hygienist until...

I was thinking of being a dental hygienist until I read all these comments. Coming from an outsiders perspective, it seems to me that there is a lot of snobby politics and dramma regarding this field. It seems that the people with a BS are mad because they went the extra mile or 20 to obtian their degree, and they are not being as recognized for it as they feel they should. And instead of taking it out on the industry and doctors, they are trying to belittle the people with their AS. They do not dictate the market or the training. It is not their fault you can have the same qualifications and training as someone who choses to get their BS. That is the industries fault. I understand the want to have more for doing more work, and spending more time and money to have a higher degree and level of training. But if that is not the case, then it is no ones fault but your own for doing so much when you don't have to. It doesn't make you more superior it just makes you seem silly and nieve. And in this case and feild, it seems that the option to obtain a BS is just another ploy for collages and the industry to make more money off people. Don't be mad at people with their AS because you got dooped. I have decided, though I would probobly be looked down on by Hygienists, that I will just stick with being an extremely well knowlagable dental assistant.


Well said!!!!!!! You make a valid point!

Less than quality care

I have practiced hygiene for 31 years and yes I have a BS degree.  I am appalled at the attitude of these hygienists who graduate with AS degrees and the lack of quality that I see in practices anymore.  You CAN tell  for the most part who graduated from where in our area.  It scares me as far as public safety is concerned.  Patients don't know the if they have had a quality prophy or not and the dentists are greedy and only want to pay the cheapest salaries  they can get by with.  I am glad to be in the last years of my working days...but I know quality and these local for profit hygiene schools aren't concerned about quality education and public safety..  Thats why they are for profit.  SO here's to  all you hygienists who got "dooped" into a $60,000 education fee for 2 years of education and a AS degree..  I respect quality education. 

My Reply

I totally understand your feeling regarding the current requirments of this field. Please understand that it's no different than any other field of work. I currently have a master degree in Computer Information Systems, a 60K plus education. I've experienced similar in which individuals in the same job have technical school background, Associate degrees and/or just years of applicable work experience and either they're in a managerial roles or they're salaries are higher, let alone they're knowledge of the industry doesn't compare. I realized that those individuals have opportunities in which they can Excell or Fail.I've recently considered The Dental Hygiene route as an alternative. It would give me the opportunity to utilize my Technological background coupled with my interest in Dental Hygiene, myticulous outlook and approach to capentry in a field where there's always a need. For me, it would be a waste to not learn an master the craft despite have vested the time and money for a 4yr degree.I've learned in all my 35 years that the best teacher is on the job, education solidfies the skill and drive one already has to master a craft. Give me a chance to be a pioneer, master of industry. You won't be disappointed.

BS can give you other options

and expands
I have been an RDH for 32 years. As with other professions, we have an option to expand our
career. I have a A.S in clinical hygiene. I had 3 years of college before I changed my major. Many
of my college roomates also had more education or/and other degrees before entering the college dental
hygiene programs. I later finished my B.S. in Healthcare Sciences. I have over 8 years of college.
This was my decision to educate myself to a higher level. I continue to read and learn. This is part
of being a professional. We don't always educate ourselves for the motivation of upward mobility.
However, if I choose to to go into sales, education or move to a location in the states or around the
world that requires more education, I am that much further ahead. Education teaches us to think,
and expands our world.

love it and agree 100%...

love it and agree 100%...

It was good while it lasted....

I've been a hygienist for 38 years. I'm still working, unfortunately, dentistry is being taken over by corporations that all they care about is money. There is tremendous pressure to produce even if you have to lie to your patients and push procedures that are unnecessary.  If you don't produce at the level that they want, there is the door. I would never become a hygienist today, with the direction that dentistry is going.

totally agree, it happened to

totally agree, it happened to me!! I did not push onlay's, crowns...I was told I wasn't his ideal hygienist ans practiced there for almost 5 years... 

This is not the way

This is not the way professionals ought to behave! 

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