Dental Hygienists: Salary Overview
Dental hygienists provide preventive care and examine patients for signs of oral diseases.
A dental hygienist typically performs tasks such as: removing tartar, plaque, and stains from teeth, applying sealants to protect teeth, taking x-rays, assessing the patients’ oral health, and referring them to dentists.
Dental hygienists also have to keep records about patient care and treatment plans.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dental hygienists was $76,220 as of May 2019.
This means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Experience, the region of practice, the location of practice, and the industry of employment are all important factors in determining a dental hygienist’s wage.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,130 while the highest 10 percent made more than $103,340 a year.
Dental Hygienist Salary by Industry
Dental hygienists held approximately 219,800 jobs in the United States in 2018, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The biggest employers for dental hygienists were offices of dentists but some of them also worked in different sectors, such as the federal executive branch or offices of physicians.
The average annual salary reported by dental hygienists who worked in offices of dentists was $77,540 as of May 2019.
Dental hygienists who work in the field of employment services earned, on average, $75,280 per year.
Offices of physicians paid dental hygienists, on average, with $73,610 per year.
The average annual wage was $77,300 for dental hygienists who worked in outpatient care centers and $61,440 for those employed by the federal executive branch.
The highest average salary was reported by dental hygienists who worked in the industry of agencies, brokerages, and other insurance-related activities.
In this field, the reported average annual wage was $86,460.
Dental hygienists who worked for offices of other health practitioners earned, on average, $81,400 per year, more than the median for this profession.
Dental Hygienist Salary by Level of Experience
Salaries in this field are also dependent upon the dental hygienist’s level of experience.
As an entry-level dental hygienist, your hourly rate will typically start at less than $25 an hour.
According to BLS, the lowest 10 percent of dental hygienists earned less than $25.54 an hour.
After earning a few years of experience your rate may increase slightly.
The report published by BLS shows that the 25th percentile for this profession was $30.90 which means that 25 percent of dental hygienists made less than this and 75 percent earned more.
As an experienced dental hygienist who has more than 15-20 years of experience, you may earn more than $50 an hour.
However, salaries also vary depending on the region of employment and the location of the practice.
Those who work for established dental practices in large urban areas usually earn more than those who work in small towns.
Salaries also vary by state and the state laws that regulate the procedures that can be performed by dental hygienists.
BLS’s report shows that the highest wages were reported by dental hygienists who practiced in California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii.
At the opposite end, there were states like Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, or South Dakota, where dental hygienists usually earn less than the average for this profession.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.
This expected growth can be explained, in part, by the fact that more states begin to allow dental hygienists to perform more procedures and to become more productive.
Job openings, like earning prospects, vary by geographic location.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Dental Hygienists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.