Dental Hygienist Salary

What is a Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist (also known as Oral Hygienist or Registered Dental Hygienist) is a health care professional who specializes in maintaining good oral hygiene. Dental hygienist roles can be quite complex and vary between clinics. Their duties can encompass pre-treatment care, care during the actual procedure, and post-treatment care. They may be responsible for cleaning and examining teeth or even evaluating the head, neck and mouth for any indications of oral decay or disease. Dental hygienists are an important educational resource for patients as well, providing invaluable information regarding the proper care of teeth.

Work Environment

Almost all dental hygienists work in dental clinics alongside of dentists. However, you may find others working in physician offices, outpatient care centers, extended-care facilities, hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, and the military.

dental hygienist salary

Work Schedule

Dental hygienist may work part time or full time hours depending on the dental clinic they work for. It usually consists of weekday hours between 9 am to 8 pm, when most dental clinics are open.

Mean Annual Dental Hygienist Salary

The average annual dental hygienist salaryis $70,700. The average salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $46,540 and the top 10% makes over $96,280.


Dental Hygienist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary $70,700 per year
$33.99 per hour
Top 10% Salary $96,280 per year
$46.29 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary $46,540 per year
$22.38 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2012 190,290

Dental Hygienist Job Outlook and Prospects

Expected job growth in this field for the US is 33%, or about 64,200 jobs by 2020. It is ranked amongst the fastest growing occupations, primarily because of the increasing population and renewed focus on oral care. To meet the needs of patients across the United States, hospitals and private dental practitioners are hiring more dental hygienists


Dental Hygienist Salary: Factors of Influence

According to the data from the March 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 190,290 individuals employed as dental hygienists, earning a mean annual wage of $70,700. Naturally, this wage fluctuates substantially depending upon any number of factors.


As is the case in many other professions, experience for a dental hygienist can propel them forth into the upper echelons of the earnings bracket, averaging over $95,000 each year. Of course, more specialized training can also result in higher wages, particularly after practicing a number of years in a dentist’s office while studying for certification in other specializations.


Working in a dentist’s office is the most common option for dental hygienists out of school, representing the most saturated industry of them all. However, the two top-earning industries, such as other ambulatory health care services and facilities support services, employ less than 200 individuals throughout the United States, indicating that less concentrated industries are in fact those that secure individuals approximately $72,000 or more each year.


The annual mean wage of dental hygienists is highest in states on the West coast. California is the highest paid state as of March 2013, also representing the state with the largest number of job opportunities in the profession. Also leading other states in terms of income are Nevada and Washington, both of which also have yearly mean wages of over $90,000 for dental hygienists.

Based upon the state data, the four, top-earning metropolitan areas are all located within California, each of which possesses an annual mean wage of slightly over $100,000. The nonmetropolitan areas that pay the highest wages are also those states with top-earning positions, including Nevada, Washington and, of course, California. These nonmetropolitan areas even average annual mean salaries of anywhere from $94,480 to upwards of $110,000. Therefore, states with the highest concentration of jobs are also those most likely to have higher wages, making them an appealing destination for aspiring dental hygienists.

Dental Hygienist Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Top Paying States Top Paying Industries States with Highest Employment Level
San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division: $106,700 California: $93,280 Other Ambulatory Health Care Services: $74,240 California (21,200 jobs): $93,280
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA: $104,270 Nevada: $91,350 Facilities Support Services: $72,350 Texas (11,830 jobs): $69,240
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA: $101,550 Washington: $90,540 Offices of Dentists: $71,000 Florida (10,250 jobs): $59,250
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA: $101,350 District of Columbia: $88,320 Employment Services: $69,680 New York (9,630 jobs): $68,340
New Haven, CT: $101,020 Connecticut: $84,320 Outpatient Care Centers: $68,280 Michigan (8,960 jobs): $59,810