Regardless of generation, dental hygienists agree about job market

The RDH eVillage survey posted in August 2013 confirms that the different generations currently employed in dental hygiene all experience a similar sentiment about the job market for their peers.

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Both newcomers and veterans of the dental hygiene profession experience little difficulty witnessing the construction of new dental hygiene schools or the rarity of help wanted ads for dental hygienists. The RDH eVillage survey posted in August 2013 confirms that the different generations currently employed in dental hygiene all experience a similar sentiment about the job market for their peers.

For example, when asked how difficult it would be to find another job in dental hygiene “tomorrow,” 84% of the hygienists who graduated in the 1970s said it would be difficult. Among the hygienists who graduated after 2000, 85% said it would be difficult. Less than 5% in all work experience groups said it would be “easy” to find another job.

A St. Louis hygienist who graduated in the 1970s wrote, “I would like a different job because there are many things wrong in my office. But ever since I got this job in 2011, I have been looking.”

A Virginia hygienist who graduated after 2000 observed, “We have three schools located within two hours. Jobs are almost impossible to find in the area. Hygienists are able to fill in with temp services, and they are very happy to get the work when called.”

Only a handful of respondents graduated before 1970, so the breakdown of the information presented is based on 146 dental hygienists who graduated from dental hygiene school in the 1970s, 178 who graduated during the 1980s, 155 who graduated during the 1990s, and 219 who graduated after 2000.

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Links to Other 2013 Salary Survey Articles

Dental Hygiene Salary Survey, part 1: Reduced hours? Maybe not

Regardless of generation, dental hygienists agree about job market

Hygienists strongly believe there are too many hygiene schools, too few jobs

Some final thoughts about the fairness of pay raises awarded to dental hygienists

Job benefits survey, part 4: The 'duh' factor

Pay raises in dental hygiene: A national overview

2013 Dental Hygienist Job Benefits Survey - Part 3

Job benefits for dental hygienists: Part 2

Survey: Dental hygienists scramble for health insurance

Dental hygienists from different generations also agree that the recession “limited your ability to try other options for career growth and/or income from dental hygiene.” The statistics suggest a mild difference in opinions among hygienists graduating after 1990.

  • Graduated in the 1970s: 63%
  • Graduated in the 1980s: 63%
  • Graduated in the 1990s: 70%
  • Graduated after 2000: 61%

On the other hand, veteran hygienists were slightly more likely to believe that it is “more obvious” that an increase in the number of dental hygiene schools is “creating a larger surplus of dental hygienists seeking employment.”

  • Graduated in the 1970s: 86%
  • Graduated in the 1980s: 80%
  • Graduated in the 1990s: 78%
  • Graduated after 2000: 79%

Other slight differences in the generational perceptions about dental hygiene employment exist. For example, hygienists were asked to indicate the average number of days a week they are employed. Because of the coveted flextime factor often associated with a career in dental hygiene, RDH eVillage confirmed whether the hygienists were practicing on their preferred number of days per week. The generational breakdown of hygienists unable to work the desired number of days per week due to business management or economic reasons was:

  • Graduated in the 1970s: 36%
  • Graduated in the 1980s: 34%
  • Graduated in the 1990s: 38%
  • Graduated after 2000: 42%

A similar question queried hygienists about the number of practice settings (pro bono dental hygiene treatment exempted) where they are employed. Again, more recent members of the profession indicated difficulty in finding full-time employment in one work setting:

  • Graduated in the 1970s: 26%
  • Graduated in the 1980s: 26%
  • Graduated in the 1990s: 36%
  • Graduated after 2000: 50%

Does the perception of difficult times in dental hygiene prompt different generations to long for a career change? For reasons not identified through the survey, hygienists who graduated in the 1990s “frequently” think about a career change more often than other experience groups.

  • Graduated in the 1970s: 23%
  • Graduated in the 1980s: 26%
  • Graduated in the 1990s: 37%
  • Graduated after 2000: 29%
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