Dental hygienists provide important services in almost every dental office. They clean teeth, examine for oral diseases, and teach patients about hygiene and preventative methods. In order to enter this career you must meet certain dental hygienist requirements. The typical requirement is graduation with an associate’s degree or certificate from a dental hygiene training program. The job market for dental hygienists is very good and salary rates are far above the average. Overall this is an excellent career to consider.
Overview of Dental Hygienist Requirements
There are a variety of ways to become a dental hygienist. Many schools offer degree programs that cover all the dental hygienist requirements. The most common path is with an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. This degree program can usually be completed within two years. However, there are also bachelor and master’s degree programs as well. Most dental offices require at minimum an associate’s degree or certificate from an accredited school.
Important Personal Qualities of a Dental Hygienist
Education isn’t the only important factor when considering this career. There are other dental hygienist requirements for success. A dental hygienist works closely with patients and other dental staff throughout their day. There are a few key personal qualities that will help you be more successful as a hygienist. Many of these skills are taught during a dental hygienist training program. Others are developed from experience and through social interactions.
Compassion. Most people don’t enjoy their time at the dentist. Many of the procedures cause patients to feel uncomfortable and even in pain. Having compassion for your patients and understanding their circumstance can make the procedures go much smoother.
Detail Oriented. As a hygienist you will be required to provide thorough cleaning and other hygienic activities. Being able to systemically apply hygiene principles and pay close attention to detail is a must.
Dexterity. Using a wide variety of dental tools can be difficult if you have still hands. Dexterity is an important if you plan on providing thorough cleaning services and need to reach difficult to see areas that require mirrors, lighting tools, etc.
Interpersonal Skills. Like in any business, you need to be able to get along with clients and co-workers. Having strong interpersonal skills will help you build workplace relationships that make going to work enjoyable. This is perhaps one of the most important dental hygienist requirements.
Dental Hygienist Salary
According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average dental hygienist salary is $68,250 per year, or about $32 per hour. This is a very good salary considering students only need two years of education to enter the workforce. The BLS projects that dental hygienist jobs will increase by 38% between 2010 and 2020, much faster than other occupations. This is good news for students who are considering a dental hygiene career but are worried about job opportunities when they graduate.