Dental hygienists perform general cleaning of the teeth and gum, take X-rays, and inform patients of how to take good dental care at home. Dental hygienists also assist dentists in evaluating X-rays and determining the causes of patient’s dental problems. Hygienists work closely with people in the office and with patients. Excellent customer service skills and a good personal disposition are essential elements for a successful dental hygienist career.
- 1 Dental Hygienist Jobs and Job Market Trends
- 2 Required Dental Hygienists’ Educational Programs
- 3 Dental Hygienist State Certifications and Licenses
- 4 Getting Practical Experience as a Dental Hygienist
- 5 Top 6 Careers in Healthcare
- 6 Physician’s Assistant (PA)
- 7 Physical Therapist (PT)
- 8 Occupational Therapist (OT)
- 9 Registered Nurse (RN)
- 10 Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- 11 Medical Scientist
Dental Hygienist Jobs and Job Market Trends
Jobs for dental hygienists are mostly located in dentists’ offices, but some may work in hospitals and community clinics. Hygienists are not the same as dental assistants. Assistants’ jobs may include completing office paper work, making patients’ appointments and schedules and keeping records. The full scope of a dental hygienist’s job depends on the state in which they practice. Some states permit hygienists to perform traditionally dentist duties, such as filling cavities and doing periodontal work. Job trends for hygienists are positive; according to the Department of Labor, this occupation will “grow through the next year.”
Required Dental Hygienists’ Educational Programs
A dental hygienist must complete a program from an accredited school in order to be employed in most states. The Commission on Dental Accreditation, or CODA, is responsible for the accreditation of dental hygienist schools and programs. This commission is sponsored by the American Dental Association, or ADA. The ADA reviews the schools for establishment and compliance with specific dental course guidelines. The ADA site maintains a list of accredited dental hygienists programs and schools. All programs require at minimum a high school diploma and some may require college course work prior to acceptance.
Dental Hygienist State Certifications and Licenses
Once dental hygienists complete their educational requirements, they must be certified by a State dental board. The requirements may include first graduating from an accredited hygienist program and then successfully completing a state exam(s). Hygienists should review the applicable state requirements on the American Dental Association site.
Getting Practical Experience as a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists may work on internships at private dentists’ offices and in large hospitals and community dental centers. These internships are generally part of an accredited hygienist program and may be paid or non-paid. Many dentists provide entry level jobs for hygienists in training. Compensation for dental hygienists varies; the more experienced hygienists earn better wages. The Department of Labor reports that the hourly range for hygienists is approximately $20.00 to $40.00.
Top 6 Careers in Healthcare
The healthcare industry needs assistants, nurses, scientists and other medical professionals to further care for the increasing number of patients. Education in the medical field is a wise choice to ensure that a job will be available upon graduation. The medical field is also an option for a second career if unemployment has struck due to the economy. The medical field is rewarding, and many educational programs are flexible and offer financial aide.
Physician’s Assistant (PA)
Physician’s assistants help doctors take care of their patients. They are responsible for a number of tasks that the physician performs. They must be fast learners with excellent organizational, leadership and people skills. Physician’s assistants are growing in popularity because of the escalating medical industry due to the rapid increase of the aging population. Doctors need help because their patient load is expanding.
Physician Assistant Salary: $69,000
Physician Assistant Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, two year physician assistant program
Physical Therapist (PT)
Physical therapists rehabilitate those who have become handicap due to an accident or medical condition. The aging population is putting physical therapists even more in demand. A physical therapist helps patients get back to the physical level they were prior to injury or medical problem.
Physical Therapist Salary: $60,000
Physical Therapist Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy, state license.
Occupational Therapist (OT)
Occupational therapists help the mentally and physically handicap learn how to do daily tasks such as bathing and dressing on their own. This has always been a necessary profession needed by the elderly, but with the Baby Boomer generation aging, it has become much more in demand.
Occupational Therapist Salary: $54,000
Occupational Therapist Educational Requirements: Master’s degree
Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered nurses care for patients suffering from various illnesses and diseases. They assess, give direct patient care and create medical records for a patient’s symptoms, progress and/or drawbacks. They are present during surgeries, provide medication management and assist with rehabilitation. They create care plans for patients and educate the families on how to provide proper care.
Registered Nurse Salary: $55,000
Registered Nurse Educational Requirements: Associates degree, national license
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
Licensed practical nurses work under the direction of doctors and registered nurses to care for patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions and handicaps. They take vital signs, gather patient history, collect lab samples and conduct lab tests and assist patients with various needs.
Licensed Practical Nurse: $42,000
Licensed Practical Nurse Educational Requirements: one to two years in a nursing program depending on the state.
Medical scientists conduct biomedical tests and research. With the increased need for medical technology as healthcare evolves, qualified medical scientists are always in demand.
Medical Scientist Salary: $61,000
Medical Scientist Educational Requirements: Ph.D in biological science.
All of these careers in healthcare offer excellent benefits and a chance to help those in need. Medical professionals play such an important role in society making the medical field an excellent career choice.