The Average Dental Hygienist Salary

dental hygienistThe average dental hygienist salary is more than $68,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Where you live plays a big role in the salary for dental hygienist work.

The state with the highest salaries for dental hygienists is Alaska and the state with the lowest is Michigan.

Like most other occupations, the cost of living of an area impacts the salary offered. However, it also impacts how far that salary will go in terms of spending power.

The Wide Range of Dental Salaries

The salary for dental hygienists as a group vary with experience and credentials. More experienced dental hygienists make more money than new graduates from a certification program. New dental hygienist salaries are around $30,000 on average, whereas in the top 10% of experience can expect close to $100,000 a year.

Most dental hygienists work in private practice and enjoy many perks, such as healthcare, 401K, paid vacation time, pension, disability benefits, bonuses, and sick leave. Some work for hospitals or oral surgeons. The pay for positions in these places is more, but these jobs are limited and go to the most sought after applicants.

Dental Hygienist Education

Dental hygienist programs typically take two years to complete. Most dental hygienists opt to get their associates degree in dental hygiene, which gives them a salary commanding edge over those who only attended a certificate program.


Often dental hygienist programs will require prospective students to take a year of general college coursework before they can apply to the two-year associates program. Others just ask students to take background courses in sociology, psychology, speech, English, and chemistry before they apply.

After the completion of the dental hygienist program coursework, there are two exams the prospective candidate must pass. There is the National board Hygiene Exam and the exam specific to the state in which the hygienist wishes to practice.

Dental Hygienist Exam

The requirements for the exam vary by state.

Most states require the scores for each exam, CPR certification, letters of recommendation, and transcripts from high school and your dental hygienist program before you can be licensed in the state.

Many dental hygienist salary’s are dependent upon whether they work full-time or part-time. As dental offices struggle to better meet the needs of their community, some are opting to extend hours. With evening and weekend appointments for patients have come more opportunities for flexibility in the dental hygienist’s schedule.

Full Time or Part Time?

Roughly half of the current dental hygienists work part-time, which naturally decreases their salary. This arrangement allows for tremendous work-life balance, so many hygienists are thrilled for the opportunity to work fewer hours.

Sometimes hygienists are paid a flat salary and others are paid an hourly rate. The average per hourly rate for dental hygienists was $32.81 according to the Department of Labor.

This field is expected to continue to grow at a significant rate. So an investment in a dental hygienist program is a solid investment in your future. A high salary relative to the amount of education invested is one of the many perks of working as a dental hygienist.