According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists earn between $46,000 and $87,000 per annum, which works out to yearly and hourly median wages of $70,210 and $33.75 respectively. At the top of the pay scale, the salary included cash benefits to the tune of approximately $3000 in bonuses, $6000 in proceeds from profit sharing and almost $19,000 in commissions. While this was the nationwide average, in reality, dental hygienist earnings can vary significantly based on a range of factors.
Hygienists education and experience
Dental hygienists are expected to have an Associate's degree from an accredited academic establishment. Although some schools are now offering certificate courses in dental hygiene, people seldom get hired on the basis of such training. While academic qualifications impact the chances of employment, experience has a direct bearing on the salary.
For example, those who are fresh out of school have to make do with salaries in the range of $25,760 to $67,218. Professionals with entry level to 5 years of experience make between $29,620 and $67989. With mid level experience of 5-10 years, it is possible to draw $30,334 and $68,000.
Over ten years of experience will easily get a dental hygienist average annual earnings of $69,000 and over while the highest salary is reserved for those with 2 decades of experience under their belt. These professionals are routinely offered $72,000 and more per annum.
Average hygienists salary by location
An extremely important factor when it comes to dental hygienist salaries, the prevailing assumption is that urban areas offer better employment prospects and salaries than rural pockets. Although this is true in many states, there are certain metropolitan centers which have lower wages for dental hygienists than seemingly obscure rural areas where owing to the higher demand, salaries are greater.
In fact, the dental hygienist salary is a particular area is directly dependent on supply and demand factors. A locale with lower demand for dental hygienists and a greater number of certified professionals is bound to have plunging salary ranges. Some of the metropolitan areas with the highest average dental hygienist salaries include:
• California, San Francisco: $106,120
• Connecticut, New Haven: $105,420
• California, Fairfield: $100,550
• California, Vallejo: $100,000
• California, Santa Rosa: $98,000
• Washington, Bremerton: $97,990
• Washington, Kennewick: $94,900
Surprisingly, some non-metropolitan areas with a higher demand for dental hygienists have greater average salaries than even urban centers. For instance, dental hygienists in West Central Nevada easily make more than $111,000, while those in Southwest Alaska come in at a close second as far rural areas go with an average salary of over $97,000. The wages in Southwest Washington are just a few hundred dollars less at $96,920, while professionals who work out of the Northwestern parts of Washington State earn above $92,200 annually.
The cities at the lower end of the wage spectrum include Flint and Holland in Michigan where the salary range is in between $55,000 to $61,000, Ft, Lauderdale in Florida with an average salary of $63,000 and St. George, Utah where professionals are paid about $62,000.
It is crucial to understand that job growth or the economic health of an area does not necessarily influence the wages of dental hygienists. For example, despite the serious impact of the economic downturn on San Francisco, the city continues to have one of the highest salary ranges for dental hygienists, a good $35,000 over the national average.
Salaries across states
As far as states go, salaries in those that employ the highest number of dental hygienists look like this:
• California: > $91,000
• New York: > $68,000
• Texas: > $67,000
• Michigan: > $60,000
• Florida: > $58,000
States which have the highest concentration of dental hygienists are currently offering:
• Washington State: $90,420
• Connecticut: $85,700
• Idaho: $69,060
• Utah: $65,880
• Michigan: $60,310
As far as the highest average salary for a state goes, California tips the scale at almost $91,000 followed by Washington State and District of Columbia, both at $90,000. Nevada and Alaska trail behind with $88,620 and $86,300 respectively. Alabama has the lowest average salary at $44,000 followed by Mississippi at $45,000 and West Virginia at $46,000.
The specific employer is by far the most influential factor when it comes to determining dental hygienist salaries. The highest annual income is drawn by dental hygienists who are self employed and work as support service for facilities. They typically make about $74,700 each year.
However, the majority of dental hygienists are employed at dental practices where they are paid about $70,000. In contrast, salaries are the lowest at federal facilities and physicians offices at $54,000 and $64,000 respectively. Outpatient care centers have a median salary of a bit over $69,000.
Looking at more than just the average
While 50% of the dental hygienists in the US earn about $69,000 to $70,000 annually, 10% who are at the lower end of the wage spectrum make just $46,000, while another 10% at the top of the wage range earn over $96,000 per year. Another factor to consider is the mean rise in earnings over the years. Between 2008 and 2012, there was a growth of almost 1.5% in dental hygienist salaries.
Apart from their salary, a third of all dental hygienists report receiving medical insurance from their employers while more than 40% are given dental insurance as part of their annual earnings package.