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The 12 best states for young dental hygienists

Sept. 26, 2012

September 18, 2012

A few weeks ago, I was given an assignment to determine the best states for young dental hygienists and assistants to live and work. I took older articles from the DentistryIQ site that centered on the best states for those professionals, then I measured them against lists from other websites such as Huffington Post and CNN regarding the best places for young people to live. Points were assigned in a very complicated process that ended up being simplified into a small table that we included with each article, and we got some very unexpected answers from the method. For instance, Utah came out to be the best state for a young dental hygienist to live. As Mark Hartley said in one of the best states articles: “We, uh, didn’t check for the proximity of beaches or ultra-cool nightclubs in this ranking.”

This time, my method for determining the most fun states to live in as a young dental hygienist was anything but scientific. That’s the honest truth, and I can say it and hope that The Editors Across the Office agree with my unconventional and unexplainable ways and publish this because, well, “fun” isn’t really scientific, is it?

That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it.

Besides, when you get really scientific, you have North Dakota, Iowa and Utah topping your list, and you know what those states spell? Probably many things, but not F-U-N.

Anyway, some people around the internet have made some claims about fun places for young adults and young professionals to live, and someone also made some claims about cities with culture to brag about. So I took their claims and combined them with our claims into this little snowball of an unscientific conglomerate and made a nice little list. I took the top cities for young professionals (in terms of having a social life) and listed them under our top states for dental hygienists.

Let’s get started.



Minnesota was ranked ninth on our dental hygiene salary list. That is in consideration of the cost of living as well, so things look good there for earners in the dental hygiene field. What makes Minnesota really special for you young dental professionals is that many of its cities are ranked on the Top 100 list, but Minneapolis/St. Paul ranked eighth as the best city for young professionals and 15th for culture. Travel + Leisure ranked the cities high in terms of cleanliness (of the city), intelligence (of the people), parks, safety, and theater. This is good news for you hygiene-aware, intelligent, outdoorsy, and culturally-sensitive professionals. Not surprisingly, the state sank to the bottom in terms of people having a good Valentine’s Day (men can be so sensitive if you don’t send them roses), a bad Spring Break (could it be the freezing northern temperatures?) and – a big one – winter. It got last place for winter. So, ya know, bring a coat I guess.



Wisconsin is ranked 10th for dental hygiene salaries, and it has two cities in particular that make it shine as a beacon for young dental hygienists who are itching to move somewhere new and exciting. The city of Madison is ranked as the best city for young adults and is filled with college students and 20-somethings that are a part of the many start-ups in Madison. The culture, when the weather permits, is outdoorsy and culturally-oriented, and there are many exhibits and outdoor activities to choose from when you’re looking. Milwaukee is the 20th best city for young professionals and the second safest city on the Forbes list. It’s also the ninth best for singles, so get ready to mingle! It’s known as the City of Festivals, so if you’re like me and you’re into walking around and eating weird foods that you can only eat at festivals, Milwaukee just might be the place for you.



Colorado received 12th place for salary ranking, which is great considering the low cost of living in most of its cities, especially Denver. You can rent a one-bedroom in a trendy area for around $700 a month and have all of your amenities, and probably a park, within walking distance. Denver is the 10th best for young professionals, 18th for culture, and fifth for young adults. Its other bragging rights? Well, 300 days of sun a year can’t be beat, but Denver also was ranked the most pet-friendly city with the most athletic residents and the best microbrews. And don’t fret – if Denver isn’t your scene (those pesky mountains to the West can be so pretentious), many other Colorado cities ranked in the Top 100.



Maryland is ranked 14th on our list for dental hygienist salaries, and the city of Baltimore has a lot to offer by way of activities. The Travel + Leisure poll says its residents can be sports-crazed or offbeat, which might open a space for some of your own eccentricities. It’s also a great city to base day trips off of and, like many of our New England cities, it’s an excellent place to go to a classical music concert or visit a historical museum. It is also the 19th best city for culture. What Baltimore cannot offer you, however, is safety (it ranked last in the 35 considered) or attractive people (second-to-last). Oh, well. It’s what’s inside that counts, right? If Baltimore isn’t really “floating your boat,” there are five other cities in Maryland that made it to the Top 100 list.



No, we’ve never put D.C. in a ranking before, but I couldn’t possibly leave it out of this one. D.C. is a new Mecca for young people, and it has the stats to prove it: Washington is the fifth best city for young professionals, the third best city for culture, and the fourth best city for young adults. I’m sure there is a Forrest Gump tour you can go on as well, and maybe, like Forrest, you’ll meet three U.S. presidents just for “doing what you’re told.” (Sorry, but it’s a great movie.) D.C. is also fifth best for safety, singles, and being wired, according to Forbes. It’s a great place for museums and historical sites (ranked first and second, respectively), and you don’t need a car to live there, because it’s sixth for public transportation and pedestrian friendliness. What is it lacking as a city? Wild weekends, sports-crazed citizens, and affordability, according to Travel + Leisure. I think you can see that the pros weigh much more than the cons here.



Let’s move West for a moment. Washington was rated as the 18th highest-paying city for dental hygienists, and the city of Seattle is an appetizing option for many a young person. Good thing you don’t have to work in a coffee shop like the rest of the unemployed 20-somethings out there and you can enjoy what the city has to offer. And what is that, you ask? Well, coffee, obviously. Also, intelligent people, a tech-savvy and athletic populous, and an exciting, cultural environment. People say the fall and winter is no good, but that’s probably why they have such good coffee there. They also say that the barbecue is sub-par (I’m honestly not sure how barbecue is a consideration, but it’s not bumping Oklahoma up any), but it doesn’t really go with coffee anyway.



I know – I tried to avoid putting Utah on this list, merely because it was on the Best States for Young Dental Hygienists list, but I suppose that tells you something about just how great it is all around. We ranked Utah as the 15th highest-paying state for dental hygienists, and it’s included in the top states for young professionals list, as well as one of the top states for culture (coming in at number 30). When you hear “Salt Lake,” do you think of wild weekends, cocktail hours, and street food? No? Pat yourself on the back for being realistic, because these are the qualities that SLC did the worst in. The city’s bragging rights lie in having really great wireless coverage, being affordable and clean, and having peace and quiet. It is a mountain city, after all. And don’t feel pressure to settle here, even if you love Utah. Four other cities made it into the Top 100 list.



If you’ve been waiting since New York to see which city is number one for culture, wait no longer. Philadelphia is here to entertain you and exceed every one of your culturally-attuned expectations – and more! Perhaps you’re into eating food and walking around, but you either hate festivals or you just can’t wait for them to come around. Worry not, for Philly comes in second place for street food. The city also comes in first for “sports-crazed” citizens, which means you’ll never have to cheer on a team alone. Maybe you’re a little more sophisticated and street food and sports aren’t your thing: might I interest you in a tour of some historical monuments and then invite you to a classical concert? Because Travel + Leisure says Philly is the best city for that. I know I’ve painted a nice picture so far, so let me be fair: Philly got low scores for friendliness, cleanliness, and safety. But hey: street food. Not into the potential danger of city living? There are three other Pennsylvanian cities that are in the Top 100, so look around!



Hawaii came in at the 21st highest-paying state for dental hygienists, which means you should be packing your bags right now. Honolulu brought the state to our “young and fun” list by being the 28th best state for culture. It also offers awesome weather, a non-wintery winter, a lovely romantic escape (or a family vacation), and an athletic populous. What it cannot offer you is good pizza (what about the Hawaiian?), home décor stores, or hamburgers. States that do offer you those things, though, tend not to be Hawaii. Pick your battles.



We ranked Ohio as the 23rd highest-paying state, but three of its cities brought it to this list: Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. All three cities are listed as some of the safest on the favorite cities lists, and all three do well with single residents: Cleveland is the 14th best for single life. Columbus is technologically-sophisticated, and Cincinnati offers lots of historical architecture to sate your palate. City leaders also boast that every resident lives within one mile of a park. Though Cleveland is the most industrious of the three, it still offers many outdoor activities for visitors and residents.



Oregon is the 29th highest-paying state for dental hygienists, but Portland makes it cool. It’s the 12th best city for young professionals and the 25th best for culture. It boasts about its public transportation and pedestrian friendliness, as well as its microbrew beers, delicious coffee, and presence of street food. It’s also one of the most pet-friendly cities. It’s the third safest on the favorite cities list and a good city for singles to do their mingling. Even better for dental hygienists, Portland has just approved water fluoridation in the city. It cannot boast about having a fun and enjoyable winter, as it’s ranked one of the worst places to spend New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and winter in general.



Illinois made our list because of Chicago – but we rated it as the 30th most high-paying state for dental hygienists. Chicago topped the charts in culture this year, coming in at the fifth best city to experience a variety of cultural events and activities, as well as food: Chicago was rated as the eighth best city to enjoy ethnic food. If you're more of a bread-and-butter kind of person (or bread-tomatoes-and-cheese kind of person), Chicago is said to have the best pizza of all U.S. cities. Go there for the food, the cocktail hour, the architecture, the museums, and the music – and feel free to walk. Chicago's public transportation system is one of the best, and the sidewalks are pedestrian-friendly. Residents of and visitors to Chicago failed to praise the winter (and Chicago weather in general), as well as the Valentine's Day. As is usually the case, if you just don't love city livin', you can choose from three other cities in Illinois that found their place on the Top 100 list.

Is your city on this list? Should it be? Go toour Facebook page and let us know what was a hit and what was a miss. If you have a good enough point, we might just make an edit to this article and give you the credit.

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.