2013 Dental Hygiene Income: States with more than 50 responses

2013 dental hygiene salary statistics for California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Texas, Ohio, and Florida.

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California

Responses: 129

Experience levels: 29% of respondents graduated after 2000 (24% earn $50 an hour), and 25% graduated during the 1970s (23% earn $50 an hour).

Location: 78% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $50 (19%), more than $56 an hour (17%), and $45 (14%). The most common daily rates reported in metropolitan areas were $376 to $400 range (27%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $40, $41, $43, and $50.

Annual income trends: 26% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 33% projected a 2013 income in the $76,000 to $80,000 range.

Comments about California

  • Southern California is saturated with RDHs We have several new schools pumping out new grads and some of them are willing to work for half of the regular rate since they have big loans to pay off.
  • Dentists are not professional when discussing salaries, benefits, raises, etc. I keep all communication on a factual, logical basis. But the dentists cry the financial blues no matter how much they make, even if it’s almost ten times my salary! They complain about family obligations, and never seem to realize I also have family, and financial problems! The older I get, the less I respect the professionalism of dentists as managers and bosses. I do respect their clinical expertise and continue to learn from them, but, boy, could they take some lessons from their employees when it comes to being a grownup!
  • The doctors are doing more of their own hygiene, and hiring on a day-to-day basis as needed. No full time positions available anymore, and too many hygienists in the area. Also, some practices are very busy, while others are struggling to fill a day of hygiene.
  • Too many new grads are taking less pay, which is bringing the pay rate down. I have not received a raise since I started working in 2005.
  • The trend in my area is for dental offices to hire new dentists to do the hygiene for them instead of hygienists. There are very few jobs for hygienists now and yet the two local hygiene schools still graduate about 40 students every year, thereby flooding the market. The employers are offering less money to the new dental school graduates and there is high unemployment in dental hygiene.
  • Have lost days, due to lack of regular patients coming in. People have lost jobs and insurance, or left for cheaper HMO plans. This has been going on for the last three years.
  • We have a private college program in town which has flooded the local market. I love my office and am so lucky to have found employment before this school opened. The newer grads are having a really tough time finding work.
  • The additional private dental hygiene schools producing a high number of graduates mixed with a bad economy has resulted in stagnant salaries in the San Francisco area.
  • The central valley in California is oversaturated with hygienists because there are several schools and not enough jobs. I have been told that several new graduates are taking jobs as RDAs. Those that have found jobs are starting at low rates because the dentists know how desperate they are for a job.
  • The market is saturated with dental hygienists in the greater Sacramento area. Unemployment is high.
  • In the 1980-1990s there were far fewer applicants for jobs. As a hygienist you had more bargaining power in relation to compensation. Presently there can be as many as 50 applicants for one position. Also, affecting salary is that usual and customary fees paid by insurance companies has gone down instead of up. I am working just as hard, but my production is less than what I produced in the 1990s. Thankfully, I have employers who understand the dynamic so instead of making 30% of production as I did in the 1990s; today my salary is closer to 40% of my production.
  • There has been a recent change in Delta insurance, which is causing my boss to panic. He's looking to cut costs and he sees hygiene as an easy place to cut back. He has been cutting hygiene days whenever there are openings in the schedule. I'm looking into going back to school to pursue a nursing degree. Between not being able to find full time work, no benefits at all, and the fickle nature of this career, I don't see a future in dental hygiene.

Illinois

Responses: 73

Experience levels: 33% of respondents graduated in the 1980s (19% earn $38 an hour), and 26% graduated after 2000 (17% earn $36 an hour).

Location: 75% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $38 (18%), $40 (16%), and $37 (14%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $27 (21%), $25 (14%), $26 (14%), and $30 (14%).

Annual income trends: 29% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 33% projected a 2013 income in the $56,000 to $60,000 range.

Comments about Illinois

  • I live in Peoria, Ill. This area is still very much in a recession and RDH jobs are scarce due to the market saturation (we have a college with a dental hygiene program in town). It has been this way for a long time, but has gotten worse.
  • Employment in the Chicago area has begun to pick up. I feel that most offices have seen fewer cancellations and a return to acceptance of periodontal treatment.
  • Over the past three years, the office has slowed down, many more openings in the schedule. My time has been cut from four days to about 2.5 to three days per week. Patients are coming in for cleanings and either don't need work or postponing treatment. Therefore, the dentists' schedules are extremely light. Scary light. I fear I may be cut from the staff after being with the office for 18 years. After 30 years in dental hygiene, I still love it and don't want to do anything else. Picked up jobs through word of mouth. Not the case anymore.
  • Very bad. Two hygiene within 50 miles of each other. Spitting out new grads every year and no jobs.
  • Very difficult to find jobs in my area. I am underemployed due to tough economic times. Doctor's schedule is slow so he does many hygiene patients to keep his schedule busy.
  • Illinois is probably one of the worse states for dental. Most dentists are doing hygiene and not a great need for hygienists. Also too many hygienists in area.
  • There are too many hygiene schools in the Chicago suburban area. The suburbs are flooded with unemployed hygienists. This abundance is driving down our salaries. Plus many of the new grads are not completing their school requirements or not passing their Board exams. We need to close these poor performing schools.

Michigan

Responses: 73

Experience levels: 37% of respondents graduated in the 1980s (24% earn $30 an hour), and 22% graduated after 2000 (25% earn $29 an hour).

Location: 44% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $30 (37%), $28 (17%), and $32 (17%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $30 (17%), $25 (11%), $26 (11%), $27 (11%), and $29 (11%).

Annual income trends: 32% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 30% projected a 2013 income in the $46,000 to $50,000 range.

Comments about Michigan

  • Our private practice was sold to a corporation of dental offices. This is a growing practice. It also forced a $2 per hour reduction in wages in order to retain my job.
  • I have noticed that through interviewing for RDH positions that the negotiated pay or what they are willing to offer is not very close at all with the "pay rate" that I had found online in my research prior to the interview. Several the employers were very surprised to hear what the so called "average hourly rate" was for their area and were not willing to pay that, even with eight years experience and certifications for administering local anesthesia and nitrous oxide.
  • There are no job openings in the central Michigan area.
  • I feel the lack of positions for dental hygienists has more to do with the retiring age of today's hygienist. Positions are not opening up as often as they were in the last decade. Our staff employs three hygienists in their fifties, one in her sixties and one in her forties.
  • I work in a rural area in Michigan. In years past, our office would receive resumes from new dental hygiene graduates. Last year, we did not receive any. My understanding is that a lot of the graduates apply out of state, which is sad. The economy in Michigan appears to be moving ahead, so hopefully things will improve.
  • In western Michigan, the dentists are very controlling about what the hygienists earn. No raises and at the low end of salaries and no benefits. Very discouraging. Office fees continue to rise, but raises are rare. Dentists know it is hard to find another job.
  • Many hygienists are working part time at 2 or more offices, if they can find work. There are two colleges within a 30 mile radius that have a dental hygiene program, so our area is saturated with new grads each year.
  • As a graduate of the 70s, I am shocked that small schools are still opening and flooding the work force with new graduates that are being told they will find jobs. These girls are not able to find jobs and still have to pay for continuing ed. classes for a career they cannot work in. I will be 62 in January and do not plan on retiring for at least another 5 years. Many friends my age are also still working full time. I think it is shameful that colleges are deceiving girls to gain income from tuition luring them with ideas of abundant opportunities for jobs. When I graduated in 1972 there was U of D, U of M, and Ferris with hygiene programs. Now I believe there are 14 schools in Michigan alone graduating 20 to 40 hygienists each. Other states have the same situation and the people entering these schools are being misled until they graduate and are unemployed. I always tell girls not to go into hygiene now.

Pennsylvania

Responses: 71

Experience levels: 31% of respondents graduated during the 1980s (32% either earn $30 or $35 an hour), and 20% graduated after 2000 (70% earn either $25, $28, $30, $32, or $35 an hour).

Location: 50% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $33 (16%) and $30 (13%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $29 (19%), $28 (16%) and $34 (16%).

Annual income trends: 27% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 26% projected a 2013 income in the $51,000 to $55,000 range.

Comments about Pennsylvania

  • I enjoy my profession, but I am becoming disappointed with my compensation, benefits, and attitude of my current employer. I feel there are too many hygienists in the area and not enough dentists. I am currently thinking of leaving my current position, but I am afraid I will be unable to find work with the surplus of hygienists. I feel dentists don't care how qualified you are at your job, they just want to pay the lowest wage they can. Almost all of my employers complain about how "poor" they are.
  • Seems as if the younger generation of dentists feel as if they can "do it all," cutting hygienists hours and doing hygiene themselves to save a few dollars, ultimately hurting the quality of care being given and causing hard feelings between hygienists within the practice and the dentist.
  • I see salary and benefits decreasing in my area.
  • Hourly rates and salaries are declining in Pennsylvania due to the surplus of dental hygienists. Dentists know they can hire for less and those of us who are employed have not had any raises in 10+ years. Dentists let us know we're "expendable" due to the surplus.
  • My career is going on 29 years, I still love what I do...way too many RDH schools cranking out so so hygienists, I used to have full-time hours and I struggle to keep my head above water. Sign of the troubling times.
  • I am working in three different offices trying to make ends meet. Part-time jobs are about 50 minutes travel each way. No other opportunities to earn more in this area, so I must go where I can, which is eastern part of the state. Would love to only work in one office, but being single wage earner with two children at home forces me to make hard choices just to keep a roof over our heads. Have seriously evaluated whether dental hygiene was a good choice as a career. It certainly has not been an easy ride to great salary as led to believe!

New York

Responses: 66

Experience levels: 35% of respondents graduated during the 1970s (15% earn $30 ), and 15% graduated after 2000 (20% earn $25 an hour).

Location: 59% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $40 (12%) and $30 (9%), and $42 (9%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $25 (12%), $27 (12%) and $28 (12%).

Annual income trends: 41% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 35% projected a 2013 income in the $51,000 to $55,000 range.

Comments about New York

  • I receive no benefits, vacation, 6 days and definitely no health insurance. I put such energy, passion zeal in my work and has nothing to show for it. To make matters worse, the choices of good offices are almost nil, prophy mills. I would NEVER recommend dental hygiene. Love DH, but the profession is painful
  • I have worked for the same dentist for over 25 years, and have been satisfied with my salary, but since the problems in the economy I have lost my four weeks of vacation which I had. Of course, I wanted to complain, but other employees lost their jobs in our office when we slowed down, so I just accept my loss of benefits which I felt I had earned. The area in which I live has no other job opportunities, with or without benefits.
  • It just seems that given current economic circumstances that salaries have stagnated as well as a trend toward part time
  • There are very few jobs, part time or full time. Pay and benefits have decreased over the last decade, not to mention working conditions. Emphasis is on production, not the oral health of the individual.
  • Unfortunately, many people are losing their insurance in our area, resulting in less high production procedures and more "no-shows" in hygiene's schedule.
  • I myself work for a great organization when it comes to benefits, hours and salary. My fellow hygienists have complained about working at private practice and being sent home early with no pay, no vacation, holiday or sick pay. The DDS should not be allowed to do this and hygienists need to start asking for a straight "salary" so that they are not cheated of the pay they are so deserving of in New York.
  • 10/12/2013 7:09 AMView Responses
  • Currently, our market for hygienists (both full- and part-time) in upstate New York is flooded so finding work is difficult at best.
  • There are a lot of hygienists in this area and no one wants to pay what they are worth. I have also found a complete lack of appreciation for what we do and a lack of respect. Team work is a joke. It would have been a great career if we were not under the thumb of the dentist. As it is, it is just a job.
  • Due to a dental hygiene program available in my area, there are many hygienists looking for full-time positions years after graduation. It appears from employment ads placed that dentists are hiring part-time hygienists with no benefits.

Texas

Responses: 64

Experience levels: 32% of respondents graduated after 2000 (29% earn $36 an hour), and 22% graduated during the 1980s (half of this experience level either earned $35, $36, or $40 an hour).

Location: 78% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $38 (28%), $35 (13%), and $36 (13%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $36 (27%), $34 (19%), and $35 (19%).

Annual income trends: 51% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 28% projected a 2013 income in the $61,000 to $65,000 range.

Comments about Texas

  • Too many hygiene schools in Texas causing decrease in jobs, hours, and pay. Too many doctors trying to take over hygienist job duties, and giving expanded duties to assistants, including polishing and sealants. The hygiene profession is being raided and disrespected.
  • We are locked into so many different insurance programs, the doctor feels we can't raise our fees. On occasions, prophy fees are as low as $49 for an adult. There are a tremendous number of hygienists here looking for jobs.
  • There are too many hygiene schools flooding the market. I had to take a 20% pay cut and lost all benefits to keep my job. Not what I am proud of as a profession after being a hygienist for over 25 years.
  • Austin was thriving for RDHs just a year ago. Now it's difficult to find enough work or even to work eight hours without getting sent home. Many RDHs have moved here plus the ACC program is providing more RDH than there are available jobs. The hourly rate is also dropping to about $35 an hour because of this.

Ohio

Responses: 62

Experience levels: 31% of respondents graduated after 2000 (44% either earn $29 or $30 an hour), and 25% graduated during the 1970s (21% earn $29 an hour).

Location: 60% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $29 (14%), $32 (14%), and $33 (14%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $30 (19%) and $34 (19%).

Annual income trends: 40% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 28% projected a 2013 income in the $56,000 to $60,000 range.

Comments about Ohio

  • Too many hygienists, so when new grads get a job they accept anything the dentist offers. If I leave my job, I will get big pay cut and I am not happy with my employer, but cannot afford to leave.
  • Job security and raises are hard to come by. The hygiene market is flooded and dentists take advantage of that fact. Being paid by the hour with no sick leave or health insurance is ridiculous considering the amount of income and good will a good hygienist provides. I would never recommend dental hygiene as a career choice.
  • Boss complains about operating costs increasing steadily while insurance company reimbursement fees stay pretty low
  • The trend is to hire the new grads and push the "higher" paid, more experienced employees out in this office. But, there aren't any other employment opportunities here in Cleveland due to an overabundance of hygienists in northeast Ohio.
  • Full-time jobs are almost nonexistent. If you are lucky enough to have a full-time job you are at the mercy of your employer's whims … changing hours, duties, benefits, etc.
  • Unfortunately, you are required to clock out now if you don't have a patient and the schedule changes from day to day you are told to come in late or leave early or take a long lunch or not to come in at all depending on how the schedule is and if they can consolidate things.
  • Horrible in Ohio to find a hygiene job with a good salary. I would not recommend this profession!
  • There are many graduates trying to find jobs in our area and very few jobs available. However, our office had a need for an additional hygienist, and it has been hard to find someone who truly wants to work.
  • I am concerned about the growing number of "corporate companies" invading the dental field.

Florida

Responses: 56

Experience levels: 32% of respondents graduated after 2000 (33% earn $30 an hour), and 25% graduated during the 1990s (31% earn $32 an hour).

Location: 50% of the respondents practice in metropolitan areas, where the most common hourly rates were $30 (30%), $28 (17%), $32 (17%), and $33 (17%). The most common hourly rates for hygienists in small town/rural settings were $30 (23%), $25 (14%), $31 (14%), $32 (14%) and $33 (14%).

Annual income trends: 34% work 30 to 35 hours a week. Of this group, 21% projected a 2013 income in the $51,000 to $55,000 range.

Comments about Florida

  • I have not had a raise in nine years due to the recession and a new dentist bought the practice. The benefits offered to hygienist in the area are lousy, and job opportunities are not abundant.
  • There appears to be a tremendous problem here in south Florida (Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties). 1. A flooded market of hygienists due to graduating way too many students and now of course, having a fee-for-profit school in our area, so there are approximately 75 new grads if not more per year. 2. Many of the small private practices are closing. 3. Also, the large dental corporations are buying more practices, making dentistry somewhat more affordable, have "specials," mass advertising campaigns, and are knocking out the "small guys." These companies work on a very fast pace, pay their staff much less for working 10x harder, with longer hours, less patient time (that equals more production) and also cuts on the quality of patient care, although they stress that patient care is what is most important. I could go on and on! I make $10,000 a year less than that of one year ago. None of us get paid what we made even five years ago now; after all, we all can be replaced in no time. There are so many hygienists and assistants out there unemployed. No matter how horrible the job is, no one will leave their position as there is no place to go to. It is so sad. We used to have THE BEST profession.
  • Haven't received a raise in daily rate in five years. Dentists let us know that there are many unemployed or under-employed hygienists who would love to have our jobs.
  • I was working for $34 hour full-time and got laid off in 2011. So now am making less but it was very hard and I was off work for 14 months. Did some temping but finally got three part-time jobs so am happy to be working at all., Things were very slow here.
  • I was laid off three yrs ago. Doctor kept the younger two hygienists. Had been with him for 14 years. Fortunately, I was able to find work a few months later but had to take a $2 hour cut in pay. I have been with the present DDS for three years now and no mention of any raise. We did just start a 401k. That is nice. Times are still affecting our pay.
  • The job market is flooded. I am currently working two days a week for a periodontist, and supplementing with "fill-in" work. The larger offices (with more than one dentist) pays less than the single dentist office.
  • Unfortunately, I have made the same wage for 13 years. The dentist don't take in account the cost of living going up for employees. They raise their fees to compensate for overhead and their income but they feel their employees make enough. The dentist I work for and his many dental friends in the area stick together on what they will pay no matter how good you are and/or how much production you generate for the practice.
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