Individuals that are looking for a rewarding career that allows them to help others will find their expectations met by pursuing a job as a dental hygienist. Of course in order to actively take the steps needed to become employed in this position in the dental field, it is helpful to know what a person in this job is required to do as well as the requirements/qualifications an ideal candidate must have.
The role of a dental hygienist is very hands-on and involves working with both patients as well as providing assistance to the dentist. Everyday duties include preparing diagnostic tests for the dentist, updating and charting a patient’s oral health history, applying local anesthetics to patients as well as cleaning the patient’s teeth during an appointment. Because of their extensive knowledge in oral hygiene, this job also entails educating patients about how to maintain their oral health. Although these responsibilities are similar to that of a dental assistant, it is important to note that the major difference between the two jobs is the education and training required.
Overall, the job outlook for a dental hygienist is very good, although the actual demand for jobs in this area vary greatly by location. Despite this, labor studies show that this particular position is one of the fastest growing in demand within the dental field, which is definitely good news for individuals that want to pursue this as a career choice.
Due to the extensive education and training that most dental hygienists obtain, the salary for this job is much higher, compared to what most dental assistants make. The average professional in this position typically makes anywhere from $55,000 to $78,000. Extremely qualified candidates have the opportunity to command an annual salary of over $91,000.
The key to becoming successful as a dental hygienist is the education and degree(s) obtained. Individuals that have studied this field typically complete either a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree. In order for dental hygienists to practice professionally, they are also required to get a license through the state they live in, which means meeting an additional set of criteria. Those aiming to achieve a higher salary upon employment in the field even go as far as to complete a master’s degree.
Since there is such a huge demand for dental hygienists, people that want to pursue this field have plenty of programs to choose from in order to begin their training. Being enrolled in a dental hygiene program introduces students to clinical visits, laboratory activities and coursework in a classroom environment related to a variety of applicable subjects, including microbiology, anatomy, pathology, physiology, period ontology, nutrition and radiography, among many others.