Salary for dental hygienists tends to be higher than for dental assistants, but lower than that of dentists.
Though dental hygienists generally go to school for about the same amount of time as a dental assistant, they typically carry more responsibility in a dental practice and thus earn a larger salary. However, dental hygienists do not carry a doctorate and so do not earn as much as a dentist.
Dental hygienist salary is influenced by a number of factors including geographic location, type of dental facility, training and experience.
How Much do Dental Hygienists Make?
Here are some national figures representing the salary for dental hygienists as of 2012.
|Lowest Pay||Median Pay||Highest Pay|
Dental Hygienist Salary by State
The five highest-paying states for dental hygienists are shown below. With salary at the state level being influenced by factors like state economy, population and demand for dental services, state of employment is a large contributing factor to dental hygienist wages and salary.
|State||Lowest Salary||Median Salary||Highest Salary||Average Salary|
|District of Columbia||$69,220||$89,260||$113,840||$88,320|
Dental Hygienist Salary by City
Salary for dental hygienists also varies between cities, even in the same state. Salaries are impacted by local economy, population density which affects demand for dental services, population age, living costs,and business costs. Below are dental hygienist salaries for the five highest-paying major cities in the US.
|City||Lowest Salary||Median Salary||Highest Salary||Average Salary|
|San Francisco, CA||$81,170||$109,950||$139,720||$106,700|
|Los Angeles, CA||$61,750||$104,150||$121,430||$98,750|
|Santa Fe, NM||$62,850||$102,550||$119,250||$94,110|
Factors Affecting Dental Hygienist Salary
Dental hygienist wages and salary are impacted by many factors, several of which have to do with location. Here are a few of them:
Demand for dental services – Dental practices pay more when they do a lot of business. Thus, dental hygienists earn more when they work in areas where a lot of people use dental services. Areas with families who have young children and areas where people are more fashion conscious tend to produce more demand for dental services, so these areas tend to pay higher salaries.
Business costs – Costs such as office space and business taxes affect a dental practice’s ability to pay dental hygienists. This means places where the cost of doing business is lower will also tend to pay higher wages to dental hygienists. Nevada is a good example of a state where higher demand coupled with lower business costs create higher salaries for dental hygienists.
Education – A dental hygienist’s training affects their earning potential more directly, though not as much as other factors. A well-trained dental hygienist is generally more in demand, and can earn higher salaries based on their greater expertise.
Certification – As a rule, dental hygienists who are certified are also in higher demand, allowing them to land higher-paying jobs or successfully ask for higher salaries.
Experience – How long a dental hygienist has worked can also allow them to earn a higher salary by applying for higher-raking positions, such as the role of dental hygiene manager supervising other dental hygienists.
By changing your situation with regard to these factors, as a dental hygienist you can take steps to make it possible to earn a higher salary. Getting more training expands your foundation and allows you to improve other factors such as experience and the presence of certification. These can improve your dental hygienist salary prospects to a degree.
However, usually the most impactful way to earn a higher salary is to move to a higher-paying location. Most skilled professionals find that the best way to maximize their earning potential is to live in a low-cost area while commuting to a high-cost area for work.
Salary figures based on 2012 data courtesy of the US Department of Labor.