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The best states to be a hygienist rankings for 2012

When we last ranked the best states to be a dental hygienist, we still thought factors such as the scenery out the window and recreational options mattered. The economic recession was just a year old at that point.

Two years later, we have evaluated all 50 states with only a "show me the money" attitude. If the brick wall across the way is faded and cracked, and the days are too long for any enjoyable activities, so be it. At least food is on the table, and foreclosure notes are not filling the mailbox.

It's about the economy, stupid. That's the motto of the 2012 best states to be a practicing dental hygienist. In December 2009, Iowa was the top state. This time around, it's a tie between Massachusetts and Wyoming. The urban landscape of Boston dominates Taxachusetts, uh, Massachusetts. It's a stark contrast to ... what's the capital of Wyoming again? ... Cheyenne, with a metropolitan population of 90,000 cowboys. Heck, there were that many people just on the sets of Good Will Hunting. So pick one of the two best places to be a dental hygienist, and live happily after ever.

The grading/ranking of the best states to be a dental hygienist did take a cold, hard look at the economy on several counts, using statistics from Fortune magazine and the U.S. government, as well as health-care related financial rankings from americashealth rankings.org.

But dental hygiene is still all about working in the health-care professions. For those rankings/grades, we turned to RDH eVillage, which conducts an annual salary survey for the dental hygiene profession; the most recent survey occurred in the fall of 2011.

The wild card category involved the prevalence of tobacco usage in a state. Since "tobacco" seemed to be every third word in a "systemic link" article within dentistry in 2011, we just figured hygienists might like to go where tobacco ain't.

The asterisk to all of the above is that there are really very few corners of the United States that are not impacted by the recession. Everyone likely felt some pain at some point during the last three years.

But if a change of scenery would do you good, may we suggest ...

Hygiene Heaven in 2012

OK, we've already told you half of the best places to be a dental hygienist. The other half is Virginia and Maryland. Our numbers indicate that the District of Columbia has a positive impact on health-care careers. Click here to view the grades.

Can't Go Wrong Here Either

If you're still looking for California, keep scrolling down. The eight states in the second-place tier were dominated by New York City, which despite being the source of economic scandals and Occupy Wall Street, business persevered with its never-say-die bustle. Several Midwest states fared better than the average as well. Click here to view the grades.

Safe Bets

Yes, California is here. It's an upgrade, ranked 14th now instead of 43rd as it was in 2009. But if you would read the same articles and letters that we read about dental hygiene in California, you'd kind of wince and hope any relocation there turns out for the best. For every breakthrough engineered on behalf of the profession, there seems to be a dozen new hygiene schools opening, flooding the market with unemployed graduates. California is one of seven states in our "safe bets" category. Click here to view the grades.

Merely Average?

There's always a middle of the road, and we figure Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are the middle of road. Alabama, the home of preceptorship, is there too. Don't knock it. Alabama earned some good grades for its health-care efforts. In addition, four other states are placed in this category. Click here to view the grades.

Give It Another Thought, OK?

Seven states, seven not-so-great choices for a career in dental hygiene in 2012. All rankings seem to pick on Michigan, but these other six states should cause you to pause as well. Click here to view the grades.

Incomplete Grades

Don't pass this over. Hawaii is at the top of this list of 16 states. Are you seriously going to argue that Hawaii isn't a great place to live as a dental hygienist? The incomplete grades refer to the fact that these states simply did not provide enough data in the aforementioned RDH eVillage survey to rank them effectively in three of nine categories considered — hence the incomplete grade. Click here to view the "incomplete" grades.

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