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Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Major

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Dental Hygiene/Hygienist

5,614 Associates's Degrees Annually
2,443 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
#5 in Popularity (Associate's)
$75,500 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many dental hygiene/hygienist graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Associate’s Degree 5,646
Bachelor’s Degree 2,443
Basic Certificate 109
Undergraduate Certificate 62

What Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to dental hygiene and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Dental Hygiene Majors

Dental Hygiene majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

Skills for Dental Hygiene Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to dental hygiene:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.

Abilities for Dental Hygiene Majors

Dental Hygiene majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

What Can You Do With a Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with dental hygiene:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Dental Hygienists 19.7% $74,820

Who Is Getting an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene/Hygienist?

5,646 Associate's Degrees Annually
95% Percent Women
32% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
The major attracts more women than men. About 95% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of dental hygiene majors is as follows:

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Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 401
Black or African American 274
Hispanic or Latino 903
White 3,669
International Students 55
Other Races/Ethnicities 344

Geographic Diversity

Dental Hygiene appeals to people across the globe. About 1.0% of those with this major are international students.

How Much Do Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Majors Make?

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $75,500 to $122,320 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to dental hygiene. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Major  ( 75500 to 122320 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with dental hygiene may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for dental hygiene careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.0%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 53.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 18.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 0.5%
Master’s Degree 12.6%
Doctoral Degree 8.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 6.7%

Online Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Programs

In 2018-2019, 354 schools offered a dental hygiene program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 10 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 8 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 10 0
Associate’s Degree 290 7
Bachelor’s Degree 2 2
Post-Baccalaureate 10 0
Master’s Degree 17 9
Post-Master’s 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Dental Hygiene/Hygienist Worth It?

The median salary for a dental hygiene grad is $75,500 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 89% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $712,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to dental hygiene.

Major Number of Grads
Dental Assisting/Assistant 17,412
Dental Laboratory Technology/Technician 310
Other Dental Services & Allied Professions 118

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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