How much does a Dental Hygienist Earn?

The median annual wage for dental hygienists was $74,820 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,930, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $101,820.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for dental hygienists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Offices of dentists$75,090
Offices of physicians71,630
Government60,630

Benefits, such as vacation, sick leave, and retirement contributions, vary by employer and may be available only to full-time workers.

Many dental hygienists work part time. Dentists may hire hygienists to work only a few days a week, so some hygienists work for more than one dentist.

Career Outlook for Dental Hygienists

Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The demand for dental services will increase as the population ages. As the large baby-boom population ages and people keep more of their original teeth than did previous generations, the need to maintain and treat teeth will continue to drive demand for dental care.

Studies linking oral health and general health, and efforts to expand access to oral hygiene services, will continue to drive the demand for preventive dental services. As a result, the demand for all dental services, including those performed by hygienists, will increase. In addition, demand for dental hygienists is expected to grow as state laws increasingly allow dental hygienists to work at the top of their training, and they effectively become more productive.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for dental hygienists are expected to vary by geographic location.

Entry into dental hygiene programs is often competitive, with the number of applicants to accredited dental hygiene programs exceeding the number of students accepted. In addition, dental hygienists are less likely to leave their occupation than are workers in other occupations. But overall job prospects are expected to be relatively good as the number of openings in this occupation is projected to exceed the number of graduates from dental hygiene programs.

Opportunities are expected to be best for dental hygienists who are willing to work in underserved areas and for those who are open to working less than 40 hours a week.