To practice as a dental hygienist in Chicago, you first should enroll in one of the dental hygienist schools in Chicago or the surrounding area. On graduation, the state will administer a written certification exam through the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. This licensure is necessary in all states and the District of Columbia except Alabama.
To enroll for this program in one of the local institutions, one will be required to have a high school diploma and in some instances, at least one year of college.
Brief Overview of the Work
Dental hygienists enjoy a flexible and well paying profession. Within a dental practice, a dentist may hire this professional to carry out a number of tasks and job duties. These may include assisting the dentist in complex dental procedures by administering local anesthesia, passing on dental instruments, etc. In addition, within the practice team, the dental hygienist plays the part of engendering preventive dental health practice in patients. They clean both hard and soft matter from the patient’s teeth, polish and whiten the teeth as well as perform any other procedures that entail dental hygiene. As a prevention agent, the hygienist will also educate the patient on the best ways to maintain dental hygiene and prevent dental disease and other such complications.
Employment, Job Outlook and Earnings
Most of these professionals are assimilated by private dental practices, public institutions and depending on one’s level of qualification, research and teaching institutions. Employment is mostly on a part time basis with most hygienists working in a number of practices simultaneously.
With an aging population and an increase in preventative dental health awareness, this profession is projected to see robust growth patterns. A 36% per year growth rate through to 2018, according to a 2008 US Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Median annual dental hygienist salaries in Chicago were pegged at $61,000 with the highest paid dental hygienists attracting a remuneration package of over $91,000 and the least paid earning less than $44,000.
Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.