Approximately 219,800 dental hygienists are employed in the United States. Dental hygienists can find work in private dentist's offices, school systems, or public health agencies. Hospitals, community clinics, industrial plants, nursing homes, prisons, and the armed forces also employ a small number of dental hygienists.
Many hygienists work part time, which is not usually by choice. Dentists often hire hygienists to work only a few days a week, so many hygienists compensate by working for more than one dentist.
Once you have passed the National Board exams and a licensing exam in a particular state, you must decide on an area of work. Most dental hygiene schools maintain placement services for the assistance of their graduates, and finding a satisfactory position is usually not too difficult. Additionally, the American Dental Hygienists' Association offers job listings at its Web site, http://careers.adha.org/jobs.
Opportunities for advancement, other than increases in salary and benefits that accompany experience in the field, usually require additional study and training. Educational advancement may lead to a position as an administrator, teacher, or director in a dental health program or to a more advanced field of practice. With further education and training, some hygienists may choose to become dentists.
Tips for Entry
When you visit a dentist's office, speak to a dental hygienist about the job.
Attend an accredited program and obtain at least an associate's degree in dental hygiene.
Visit your college's career services office and ask counselors to help place you in a position as a dental hygienist.
Visit https://careers.adha.org/jobs for job listings.