Spread the word: Statistics on the real wealth of dental hygienists

July 24, 2014
News reports about the lucrative career of dental hygiene are true ... to a certain (statistically measured) point.

When the consumer media reports on trendy careers, dental hygiene pops up with alarming regularity. Close down the law school. Close down the engineering school. Close down the business school. Send all new students over to the dental hygiene department for the correct career path to choose.

The news reports about the lucrative career of dental hygiene are true ... to a certain (statistically measured) point.

RDH eVillage conducts salary surveys each year. In 2013, more than 1,300 dental hygienists were asked to estimate the total income earned as dental hygienists. Sixty-eight percent of dental hygienists in the United States estimated that they would earn between $31,000 to $70,000 in income in 2013.

The federal government, which projects an optimistic future for the dental hygiene profession, claims the median salary for dental hygienists is $70,210, which is at the very top end of the range noted in the RDH eVillage survey.

This is a good income, the result of hard work in providing oral health care to millions of Americans. But, spread the word: Tycoons and dental hygiene are not synonymous. Also, the profession is known for being a little weak with its lure of job benefits. The lack of health insurance, vacation time, and paid sick leave often frustrate dental hygienists about their career choice.

To further break down the statistics from the salary survey:

  • 15% earned more than $70,000 in 2013, and many of those dental hygienists practice in areas with a high cost of living such as in California
  • The most common income bracket for dental hygienists is between $41,000 and $60,000 (38%)
  • 34% of dental hygienists work 30 to 35 hours a week; 23% would "prefer" to scheduled for more hours, indicating that the current surplus of dental hygienists has an impact on being able to generate the desired income needed.

It's a good, noble profession, and it celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. Spread the word, though: The hype has fine print in it that should be considered.