One medical career that is in demand is dental hygienist. Is a dental hygienist career right for you? That’s a question that individuals can only answer for themselves in the end, but in order to do so, it’s important to know as much about the job as possible, and this article will give you the information you need about the various aspects of a dental hygienist career, such as wages, working conditions, educational and certification requirements, necessary aptitudes and skills, etc. After weighing the various factors and comparing a career in dental hygiene to other possible vocations, you’ll be able to narrow your list of career choices considerably.
There are two aptitudes or skills that are an absolute must for anyone thinking of a dental hygienist. The first one is that they must have good manual dexterity, as accurately operating tiny instruments in people’s mouths is not easy. Second, they must get along well with people and have winsome personalities. Dental hygienists spend much of their day working on people’s teeth, and in these situations many people are not just uncomfortable, but apprehensive.
Part of the job will be helping them to relax or at least to reduce their anxiety as much as possible. In addition, dental hygienists occupy a middle ground—they have less authority than the dentists in the office but more than the dental assistants, so they must be able to get along well with both authority figures and subordinates.
While a few dental hygienists become teachers, the vast majority of people working in a dental hygienist career do so in typical dentist’s office. Because the work is flexible and part time, many hygienists work in more than one office. Some do this on a regular basis, while others are on call on their days off from their main job. Much of the dental hygienist’s day will be spent cleaning people’s teeth, doing teeth whitening, explaining the concepts and practices of good oral hygiene to patients, working with x-rays, and related duties. In some states, hygienists are allowed to give anesthesia and perform other tasks that most states restrict. It’s expected that in the future, more states will follow this lead and give dental hygienists more responsibility. The working environment is quite pleasant, but stringent safety precautions must be followed when working with x-rays and when working on patients, in order to be safe from viruses and other infectious diseases.
In order to pursue a dental hygienist career, a person will need to earn a college degree in the field. Currently, there are over 300 colleges offering dental hygiene degrees, and in most cases the degree offered is an associate’s degree, which generally takes two years to complete. Some colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene, which usually take four years to complete, and a few even offer postgraduate master’s degrees, but these advanced degrees are usually not a requirement to work in the field. After earning an associate’s degree (or higher), a person must then pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). This is a rigorous test given to ensure that only fully qualified people are working in a dental hygienist career.
Job prospects for dental hygienists are excellent in the coming years, and new graduates should have little trouble finding employment. In some cases, it may be necessary to take a part-time position in order to get a foot in the door, but once in, a good hygienist will usually be given more hours right away. Every year, thousands of new dentists graduate from America’s dental schools, and most of them will be in the market for hygienists shortly thereafter. Dental hygienist salaries are among the highest in the nation for people with associate’s degrees. At last report, the average dental hygienist made around $65,000 a year. On the high end, some hygienists reported earnings of nearly $100,000 a year. Keep in mind that the average hygienist works only 35 hours per week, making these figures even more impressive. Anyone with good people skills and manual dexterity who wants to help people while earning a very good living should give a dental hygienist career serious consideration.