Sept. 20, 2010
The first part of the 2010 RDH eVillage Salary Survey focuses on a national perspective of economic conditions affecting dental hygiene salaries.

In its Sept. 10 issue, RDH eVillage published its annual salary survey questionnaire. At press deadline for this issue, dental hygienists were still reporting their answers, since PennWell Corp. also submitted the survey as part of RDH Event (Sept. 16-17), which is an online dental hygiene conference, as well as a separate e-mail mailing to RDH magazine subscribers.

In upcoming issues, RDH eVillage will offer a state-by-state breakdown to the responses on the survey.

It is not too late, by the way, to participate in the survey. Simply click here. If you have already responded to the initial RDH eVillage survey, RDH Event, or the RDH magazine e-mail, please do not respond again. The questions at the preceding link are the same questions asked in previous versions.

RDH eVillage does wish to provide a national perspective with this issue while we wait for the final results. After all, 1,633 responses and counting do offer some interesting insights to the national impact of the economy on the dental hygiene profession.

Fifty-six percent of the respondents indicated that they practice in a “metropolitan area, including suburbs,” meaning the other 44% chose the option of saying they practice in a “small town or rural area.”

Dental hygienists were asked how many days a week they practice:

  • 2% said they were unemployed as a dental hygienist
  • 3% said they practice one day a week
  • 10% said they practice two days a week
  • 20% said they practice three days a week
  • 46% said they practice four days a week
  • 19% said they practice five days a week

Dental hygienists were asked, “On what basis do you earn your income?”

  • 75% said they earn an hourly rate
  • 14% said they earn a daily rate
  • 12% said they earn a percentage of production/collections for hygiene, or commission
  • 8% said they earn an annual salary

(The above percentages do not add up to 100%, since we allowed dental hygienists who work in multiple offices to indicate different pay schedules.)

RDH eVillage also asked dental hygienists about benefits that they receive from employers.

  • 85% receive paid vacation and holidays
  • 64% receive an employer contribution toward retirement
  • 56% receive CE tuition reimbursement
  • 46% receive health insurance
  • 44% receive paid sick leave
  • 28% receive dental insurance
  • 16% receive life insurance
  • 13% receive disability insurance
  • 6% receive flextime options
  • 1% receives child care support

Dental hygienists were asked to “rate the financial health” of the dental practices that employ them.

  • 52% said, “Business is good, but it has slowed down somewhat.”
  • 23% said, “Business is good and schedules are always full.”
  • 19% said, “You can tell that the practice owners are very concerned about reduced revenues.”
  • 4% said, “The dental practice's financial health is very weak.”
  • 2% said, “I am unemployed due to the local economy.”

We asked, “Do you feel national, state, or local economic conditions have affected your ability to earn the maximum income that you pursue?” Seventy percent indicated that the economy has affected their earning power, compared to the 30% who do not feel like the economy has influenced their ability to earn the maximum income sought.

However, in contrast, we asked if the local economy’s impact on dentistry in an area prompted thoughts of a career change.

  • Only 7% said, “It is highly likely that I will leave dental hygiene due to the economy.”
  • An additional 20% said, “There's a possibility that I would leave the profession if the job market does not improve.”
  • But most hygienists, 73%, said, “Knock on wood, business is good, so I remain happy with my career choice.

Finally, we asked dental hygienists about job prospects in their local area.

  • 63% said, “It is extremely difficult to find a job here; there is a large surplus of dental hygienists.”
  • 35% said, “About the same it has always been; hard to find a job at the best dental practices, but jobs are available.”
  • 2% said, “There is a shortage of dental hygienists in our area — more jobs than there are dental hygienists.”