Young Rdh Table

The 10 best states to be a young dental hygienist: 2012

Sept. 7, 2012
The hotspots that we might fantasize about – New York City, San Francisco – are actually not the ones with the most welcoming arms for young, often struggling (and unemployed) adults. But say you have a job as a dental hygienist and you’re still looking forward to enjoying evenings and weekends free. Where do you see yourself?

September 7, 2012

First, let me say congratulations, dental hygienists. You can pick where you want to live, but the future is bright regardless of location. According to a Huffington Post article, a dental hygienist has the fourth best career, topping a career as a mathematician, a financial planner, and an occupational therapist. The Huffington Post also published an article earlier this year that ranks dental hygienist as the best high-paying job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

Of course, you still care about where you live. In a recent article from the finance section of Yahoo, an author advised that it might be wise for young adults to look “off the beaten path” when searching for a place to live. The hotspots that we might fantasize about – New York City, San Francisco – are actually not the ones with the most welcoming arms for young, often struggling (and unemployed) adults. But say you have a job as a dental hygienist and you’re still looking forward to enjoying evenings and weekends free. Where do you see yourself?

Part one of the 2012 RDH eVillage salary survey

I’ve compiled a list of the best places for young dental hygienists to live and work by averaging the scores from our own Best States to be a hygienist article,’s America’s Top States for Business 2012, Business Insider’s The 10 Best States to be Young in America, and Money magazine’s Best Places to Live: Youngest. Points were awarded for position on each list, plus bonus points for each city that was mentioned in the Money magazine article.

Take a look — these might not have come into your mind when you imagined your life as a dental professional, but read about what they have to offer. You might just get an itch to move.

1. North Dakota
You read that right: North Dakota trumps our list with 148 total points. North Dakota got a ranking of fourth for best places for dental hygienists and ranks as the best state for young adults. It has the lowest median rental cost, ranks fifth for the quality of life, second for the state economy, and fourth for business friendliness, according to CNBC. Grand Forks was ranked 18th for cities for young adults, being called a “cultural oasis” by Money magazine. Love culture? Sports? Bitterly cold winters? North Dakota is your state!

2. Iowa*
I say “Iowa,” you say... “caucus?” We are definitely off the beaten path now, but according to the ranking on our list as the best state for dental hygienists, and the rank of third best state for young adults according to Business Insider, Iowa stands out. Money magazine ranks the Iowan city of Ames at number 15 for the best places to live if you’re young. With the lowest insurance premiums in the nation and a low median rental cost, Iowa is one of the best states for those living frugally as well. (Not that you have to live frugally, you successful dental hygienist, you!) If all that sounds like a delicious Midwestern ice cream sundae, let me put the cherry on top: CNBC ranked it third for the state economy and fifth for the cost of doing business in 2012. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags!

2. South Dakota*
I literally can’t write about a tasteless stereotype of South Dakota because I hear crickets when I think of the name. But it ranked second on our list for RDH and second on the list for best states for young people, which says something: it’s winning at being second best. But seriously, the state is showing off in other rankings: first in business friendliness, third in cost of business, and some cheap apartment rental costs. The only downfall I’ve come across? It’s not known for its plethora of hip stores, according to the Yahoo list. I guess you’ll have to get creative, RDH fashionistas.

2. Utah*
I know, I’m shocked too. Where did this come from? Utah used to be just one of those angular states in the southwestern part of the United States that nobody really paid attention to. I suppose it’s tired of being under the shadow of Las Vegas, because three of its cities ranked on the top 25 for young adults. As far as its dental ranking, it only got a 15 on the list for RDH, but the state ranking is nine and the city of Orem (also called Family City, U.S.A.) is ranked number one for young adults, and two other Utah cities – Provo and Layton – ranked at 13 and 19, respectively, for the best “young” cities.

5. Nebraska
Don’t like crowds? Like those wide open spaces? Head to the prairies of Nebraska. The eighth-least densely populated state in the nation, Nebraska ranks fifth on our list for young dental hygienists. CNBC ranks it as the sixth best for overall business, Yahoo ranks it at fifth for the best young states, and it comes in at eighth place on our list for best places for hygienists overall. And not having a dense population comes in handy when you’re looking for a job: Yahoo claims you have a much better chance at finding a job here than most other places in the U.S.

6. New Hampshire
Alright, we’re out of the plains, for now. With a more interesting landscape comes much more expensive prices. The average apartment rental is about twice as much as it is in Nebraska, but you’ll find many more fitness clubs, bars, and “youth-oriented” stores. It also ranks first for quality of life on the top states for business list and second for business friendliness on the same list. I suppose you may get what you pay for. New Hampshire also ranks higher on our RDH list, coming in at third — and it has a solid position of tenth for the best states for young people. Start working on that accent!

7. Montana
And we’re back to the West. Ranked the fourth best state for young people and the 16th best for dental hygienists, Montana averages out on our list quite nicely. Into health and exercise? Montana has a pretty high number of health clubs for its population size, not to mention tons of things to do outside if you’re into hiking and river rafting, among other activities. Enjoy a nice brew after work? You won’t be at a loss for a local bar either – there may be as many of those as there are health clubs.

8. Vermont
I’m really sorry to keep jerking you from west to east. Here we are again in the Northeast, and Vermont is trying to woo you. Say you like working out, but you need to be in a more populated area. Vermont has more fitness clubs per capita than any other state in the nation. It also ranks high on the RDH list at sixth, and the seventh best state for young people. It also ranks third for quality of life and fourth for education according to the top states for business article. Downfalls? College tuition prices are some of the highest in the nation, and it ranks at 39th on the best states for business list.

9. Virginia
And now, to the South. Virginia ranked at seventh on the RDH list, but it didn’t rank at all on the states list. How can it be in ninth place? The city of Harrisonburg ranked third on the best cities for young people list – the median age is 24.3. The state did get one positive rating as a whole: it came in third for best states to do business.

10. Delaware
Delaware gets points for being the sixth best state for young people, but it didn’t come in on top for RDH. It ranked at 19 on our hygienist list. But if you’re into fashion and socializing, there are many bars and more of those “youth-oriented” stores to visit. Just be prepared to either take public transportation or spend a lot on car insurance: it has the highest car insurance rates in the nation for the 20-24 age group.

That does it for the top ten. The next best states were Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, and Wisconsin, but they just didn’t make the top.


Lauren Burns is the editor of Proofs magazine and the email newsletters RDH Graduate and Proofs. She is currently based out of New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @ellekeid.