Dental Hygienist Salary: How Much Can You Make as a Dental Hygienist?

If you are in search of a job which is growing rapidly, only requires an associate’s degree, and gives you excellent earnings potential, it is hard to beat a career in dental hygiene.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this field is growing at a rate of 20%, which is “much faster than average.” Between 2016 and 2026, that means an estimated increase of 40,900 jobs. Part-time roles actually exceed fulltime roles, so for those who are in search of a job which is flexible and allows time for other priorities, it is a hard field to beat.

But how much money can you expect to earn as a dental hygienist? Let’s take a look at the numbers in detail.

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How Much Dental Hygienists Make Overall

According to the Occupational Employment and Wages data from May 2018 from the BLS, the mean hourly wage for dental hygienists is $36.30, and the mean annual wage is $75,500.

Here is the percentile breakdown:

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$86,790
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI$74,970
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$98,640
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX$79,610
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI$63,790
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH$83,810
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA$67,340
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$90,260
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD$76,890
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$109,750

How Much Dental Hygienists Make Starting Out

According to data from, “The average Entry Level Dental Hygienist salary in the United States is $53,921 as of July 30, 2019.”

The site also gives a range for starting salaries, with those on the low end earning around $46,279 per year and those on the higher end earning $61,377.

Why do some entry level dental hygienists make more than others even at the entry level? There are a number of possible factors, among them location. Below, you can learn what salaries you can expect from state to state.

How Much Dental Hygienists Make in Every State

Below, you can view an alphabetized list of how much dental hygienists make in every state in the US.

To help you find the states where you can earn the most rapidly, we have bold-faced states where you can earn in excess of $80,000 per year.

New Hampshire$80,590
New Jersey$84,180
New Mexico$77,190
New York$68,450
North Carolina$67,470
North Dakota$62,880
Rhode Island$70,410
South Carolina$54,020
South Dakota$58,910
West Virginia$54,590

Keep in mind that the states where dental hygienists earn the most also tend to be the states where cost of living is highest. The same is also true for metropolitan areas. You will probably earn more living and working as a dental hygienist in NYC than you would in upstate NY, but you will pay more for housing and other costs as well.

Below are the metropolitan areas where you can earn the most as a dental hygienist according to the BLS:

Offices of Dentists$75,780
Employment Services$73,160
Offices of Physicians$71,880
Outpatient Care Centers$75,520
Federal Executive Branch$61,010

Where Are Most Dental Hygienists Employed?

If you want to move to a state with a high concentration of dental hygienists, you can consult the chart below provided by the BLS:

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As you can see, you have some great earnings potential in these states. If you moved to Connecticut, for example, that might help to maximize both your job opportunities and the amount of money you could make as a dental hygienist.

You can view the metropolitan areas where jobs in dental hygiene are most densely concentrated below, along with their corresponding annual mean wages:

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Earnings Potential in Related Job Fields

The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies dental hygienists as falling under the umbrella of “health technologists and technicians.”

On average, those who are classified under this category make $44,700 as a median annual wage. That is slightly higher than the $38,640 for all occupations. The $74,820 recorded as the median annual wage for dental hygienists significantly exceeds both.

If you are wondering how the salaries of dental hygienists compare to those of some other specific related occupations, take a look at the table below.

Dental Assistant$34,500
Registered Nurses$65,470
Dental Laboratory Technicians$33,070
Radiologic Technologists$55,910
Surgical Technologists$41,790

Based on this information, dental hygienists make more money on average than dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, surgical technologists, radiologic technologists, and even registered nurses.

On this list, only dentists make more than dental hygienists. Considering that dentists have higher levels of responsibility as well as numerous expenditures relating to work, this is expected.

How Can You Earn More as a Dental Hygienist?

As you know, the state where you work as well as the metropolitan area where you are employed can have a tremendous impact on your salary. So one way to earn more as a dental hygienist is to move to a location where you can make more money. Just do not forget to account for the higher cost of living, which could eat into your wages.

State and metropolitan area are not the only factors which impact how much dental hygienists earn, however. Following are a few more.

1. Type of facility

The nature of the facility where you work can have an impact on how much you earn. See the data below provided by the BLS.

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2. Experience

The longer you work in your profession and the greater your expertise, the more money you can potentially make as a dental hygienist. The salary of a dental hygienist with a decade of experience should generally be higher than that of an entry-level dental hygienist working in the same location.

3. Education

A further factor which can impact the salary you earn as a dental hygienist is your degree and the school from which you graduated.

While bachelor’s and master’s degrees for dental hygiene exist, they usually are not necessary nor expected outside of teaching and research roles.

That means you can usually go with an associate’s degree. But that does not mean that every associate’s degree is interchangeable. The more competitive your program and the more comprehensive your training, the higher your potential starting salary could be.

A license for dental hygiene is required for practice in any state. There are some workplaces where you also might need to be certified in providing CPR. If you get this certification, it may open up employment opportunities which would otherwise be closed to you.

4. Specializations

While you can opt to remain a general dental hygienist, you can choose to go into a specialization like pediatric dentistry. Specializing may increase your earnings potential since not everyone will have the training and experience in that specialization that you do.

Embark on a High-Earning Career as a Dental Hygienist

If you are ready to take the next step to becoming a dental hygienist and earning a competitive salary in a high-demand field, learn how to become a dental hygienist. On the right-hand side of this page, you can also browse through dental hygiene schools for top states, or visit this page to explore all schools by state. Good luck launching your new career!