Almost three-quarters of dental hygienists are offered paid holidays and paid vacations, which is the good news according to the 2014 RDH eVillage salary and benefits survey. The bad news is that less than half of dental hygienists are offered health insurance, dental insurance, or paid sick leave.
“Virtually impossible to find an office offering more than 24 hours a week, and benefits are scarce,” a Massachusetts hygienist wrote.
More than 1,600 dental hygienists responded to the survey, which was initiated by RDH eVillage on Aug. 6, 2014. The first article about the survey addressed the availability of jobs for dental hygienists. Upcoming articles will focus on salary trends in the profession. Hygienists who have not completed the survey may do so by clicking here.
Even hygienists who enjoy earning benefits from employers are wary of trends in the job market.
A North Carolina hygienist said, “I have fabulous benefits and have received a raise within the last year. However, I notice classmates and other hygienists who graduated from my university and surrounding community colleges struggle to find full-time jobs with benefits and raises, so they work several part time jobs or have been temping in offices since graduation!”
A Kansas hygienist, however, noted that a recent raise didn’t help overcome the costs of health-care benefits available through the federal government. “Over eight years since last pay raise,” she said. “I finally got a raise, but my raise covers some of my health insurance premiums due to my doctor dropping my insurance after Obamacare started. So I'm paying all of my premiums, and my quality of life is no better, such as having more money to save for retirement, and the cost of living going up.”
Since some dental hygienists do rely on benefits earned by other family members, the question on the survey was, “What benefits are available at your primary employer, regardless of whether you utilize them as an employee?” The questionnaire gave dental hygienists the option of saying they were “unsure” if an employer offered a benefit.
Nationally, the breakdown of available benefits were:
A Nevada dental hygienist appreciated other tangible benefits from working for her employer. “My boss may not give raises but he has been very generous with monthly bonuses and annual bonuses,” she said. “He also pays for our CEs and pays for the hours we spend in class. During our weekly meeting, he sometimes buys us lunch and gives us at least a $50 gift card for our birthdays.”
But a Pennsylvania dental hygienist said employers search for ways to boost profits. “Dentists in this area do not want to pay benefits for full-time employees because the bottom line profit is more important than the patient.”
The image gallery of benefits offered in various states above includes one slide of a regional breakdown. When building these graphics, RDH eVillage required a minimum of 20 responses from a state. The states not providing the minimum were grouped into regions that can be viewed in the slide.