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What the government thinks you earn: Updated statistics for dental hygienists [infographic]

July 6, 2017
The government's latest figures for dental hygiene salaries are out. How does yours compare? Check out our new infographic!

The government's latest figures are out. How does your salary compare to others' in your area? Plus, see what the government is forecasting for the future of dental hygiene. Competition will still be "very strong," but new workforce models may provide additional employment. Read more below.

The federal government updated its statistics recently for the dental hygiene profession, reporting that 204,990 dental hygienists are employed, earning an average of $35.31. Dentists are still the primary employer, hiring 194,830 dental hygienists.

Thirteen states employ at least 5,790 dental hygienists—California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. California reported the highest number of employed dental hygienists, 21,490.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted, “Although the demand for dental services is growing, the number of new graduates from dental hygiene programs also has increased, resulting in more competition for jobs. Candidates can expect very strong competition for most full-time hygienist positions. Job seekers with previous work experience should have the best job opportunities.

“In addition, new dental hygiene-based workforce models are emerging and may provide additional opportunities for dental hygienists.”

Overall, the federal government projects a 19% increase for employment in the dental hygiene profession. In comparison, a 7% increase is projected for all occupations.

Health insurance, which is undergoing a political challenge this summer, is a factor behind the projections.

“The demand for dental services will increase as the population ages, cosmetic dental services become increasingly popular, and access to health insurance continues to grow,” the BLS job outlook states.

On March 31, the BLS released a modification of the salary data for U.S. dental hygienists as of May 2016.

The BLS indicated that the 10 cities with the largest number of employed dental hygienists in 2016 were New York City (6,670), Chicago (4,670), Los Angeles (4,660), Atlanta (3,490), Detroit (3,360), Minneapolis (3,360), Dallas (3,040), Denver (2,760), Seattle (2,740), and Washington, D.C. (2,640).

Nine states employ fewer than 1,190 dental hygienists: Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The map above reveals the general median hourly rate for dental hygienists in a state, as well as two cities within the state’s boundaries. The five states with the five highest average hourly rates were Alaska ($49.47), California ($45.50), New Mexico ($43.79), Washington ($43.34), and Nevada ($41.61). Note: The preceding sentence is based on the average, while the map above is based on median rates.

Dental hygiene jobs in these cities were reported to offer the highest average hourly rates: Fairbanks, Alaska ($50.83), San Francisco ($50.45), San Rafael, California ($50.09), Reno, Nevada ($50.08), Anchorage, Alaska ($49.80), Oakland, California ($49.45), Farmington, New Mexico ($49.38), Oxnard, California ($49.36), Longview, Washington ($48.78), and Santa Barbara, California ($48.38).

Editor's note: This article first appeared in RDH eVillage. Click here to subscribe.

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About the Author

Mark Hartley

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH magazine and collaborates with Kristine Hodsdon on many of the articles for RDH eVillage, which also appear on

About the Author

Amelia Williamson DeStefano | Group Editorial Director

Amelia Williamson DeStefano, MA, is group editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Dental Group, where she leads the publication of high-quality content that empowers oral-health professionals to advance patient well-being, succeed in business, and cultivate professional joy and fulfillment. She holds a master's in English Literature from the University of Tulsa and has worked in dental media since 2015.

Updated May 16, 2023