The kids of dental hygiene: Salary survey report for the under-30 hygienist

In late 2015, RDH eVillage published articles about its annual salary survey. Although the survey considered dental hygienists’ ages with some information, overall age was not carefully scrutinized. This report views statistics for practicing dental hygienists under the age of 30.

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In late 2015, RDH eVillage published articles about its annual salary survey. Although the survey considered dental hygienists’ ages with some information, overall age was not carefully scrutinized. This report views statistics for practicing dental hygienists under the age of 30.

To view all of the 2015 RDH eVillage salary survey information, click here:

Overall, 247 of the 3,083 dental hygienists participating in the survey were under the age of 30.

Here’s a look at the occupational trends influencing the younger members of the dental hygiene profession:

  • 61% practice dental hygiene more than 30 hours a week. Among all other age groups of dental hygienists, 51% work more than 30 hours a week.
  • 81% believe their weekly work schedule is at least close to what they prefer.
  • 47% believe it is “somewhat difficult” to find dental hygiene employment in their area. Only 20% believe it is “relatively easy” to find employment. Among hygienists of other age groups, 41% say it is “somewhat difficult” to find employment, and 13% say it is “relatively easy.”
  • 73% believe “too many” dental hygiene school graduates are searching for employment. The same percentage of older generation hygienists agree.
  • 46% anticipated earning an annual income in the range of $41,000 to $60,000 during 2015. 38% of older hygienists anticipated the same range for their annual income.
  • For the most part, hourly rates earned by dental hygienists are influenced by factors such as cost-of-living indexes for a region. The most common hourly rates for under-30 hygienists nationally were $30 (13%), $32 (10%), $35 (7%), $29 (6%), $36 (6%), $34 (5%), and $38 (5%).

Several of the younger dental hygienists did offer comments about trends in salaries and benefits. Here are selection of those comments:

  • It is extremely hard to find a private practice setting that offers health insurance and good benefits.
  • I think as educated health professionals who are in debt, we deserve to receive health benefits and paid vacations and401(k).
  • Salaries in general are stagnant in our area when I discuss salaries with fellow hygienists. Most hygienists who can get full-time are hourly. $35 to $40 an hour for 32 hours per week is considered full time, and raises are virtually nonexistent. Health-care benefits are expensive through employers usually. Some employers want to pay a different hourly rate based on whether there is someone in your chair or not.
  • Benefits are offered, but you need to be full time. I work full-time hours by working in four different practices, so I have no benefits, and full-time work is hard to come by.
  • I graduated in 2012 and felt like there were no jobs for dental hygiene. Periodically, I look at craigslist.com and it seems like the market is improving.
  • Our area is overstocked with hygienists, most of which can only work part time due to the older generation of hygienist staying employed one to two days a week. Salaries in our area are under the national average.
  • I work six days a week at two jobs to support my family. One is corporate, the other private practice. They are very different, but I take what I can get.
  • There are very few full-time positions available, and even part-time positions are lacking. I feel as though since there are so many hygienists (and too many new ones graduating in the area each year), the offices are able to pay us less than what is fair. I believe my hourly rate is way too low, and the pay raise I am eligible for is insufficient. In two years, my rate has only increased by $.50.
  • The job market is so saturated and recent grads are so desperate for a job that employers are severely undercutting pay and offering offensive wages. For example, I make $34 per hour with six years of experience and a master’s degree in dental hygiene. I was let go after my maternity leave and was replaced by a new grad who was offered $26 per hour. New grads who accept such low wages drive down the price for all hygienists if we want to compete in the market. I already make less that my first job out of hygiene school, where I made $38 per hour.
  • I am getting paid less now than when I first got out of school seven years ago. RDHs are seen as disposable and offered less because dentists know they can get someone else for less pay.

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