In 2008, there were 174,100 dental hygiene jobs in the US. However, there are more jobs than hygienists because many of this class of worker hold more than one job. Roughly 96% of these jobs were in the private offices of dentists, with a small minority working for employment agencies, for other kinds of doctors, or in still other industries.

Earnings

The median yearly earnings of a hygienist as of May 2008 were $66,570, with most earning between $55,000 and $79,000. While the bottom ten percent earned below $44,000, the top ten percent raked in over $91,000.

Naturally, the number of years’ experience, employer and location factor into compensation. Some hygienists are paid by the hour, some daily, while some are on commission or work for a set salary.

As well, benefits vary a great deal, and may hinge on being employed full time. The American Dental Hygienist Association conducted a survey in 2009 and found fifty percent of hygienists received some form of benefits, with the most common varieties being paid vacations, retirement plans and sick days.

Job Outlook

Dental hygiene is one of the more rapidly growing occupations out there. For most areas, competition is probable, but there are plenty of positions to go around.

Changes in Employment

The employment figures between now and 2018 are expected to grow by thirty-six percent, which is far above average as occupations go. This makes dental hygiene among the fastest growing career fields out there, with the causes being their increased use and a growing demand for oral care.

For one thing, the population is growing. For another, older people are keeping their teeth more effectively than they used to. As well, there is an increasing desire to prevent problems instead of simply treating them. Plus, hygienists are increasingly able to perform functions which were once only the purview of dentists. Since oral health and total health are now known to be linked, this means dental hygienist prospects are growing still further.

Job Prospects

Naturally, no two areas are identical for employment prospects. Since a hygienist must be licensed by state to practice, there will naturally be a large level of competition in some areas than in others.

In the past dentists were less willing to hire dental hygienists, but those dentists are retiring and being replaced by dentists more amicable to the idea. As the workload grows, a given dentist will also be more likely to hire a hygienist for their simpler tasks like cleanings, so they can dedicate their time to performing more complex operations.