If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a dental hygienist, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of landing the job. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to transition into this role, here’s a guide on how to get started:
To become a dental hygienist, you’ll need to complete a dental hygiene program from an accredited institution. These programs are typically available at community colleges, technical schools, and universities. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accredits dental hygiene programs, so it’s important to choose a program that meets the accreditation standards.
Career Options and Advancement:
A career as a dental hygienist offers various opportunities for growth and specialization. While most dental hygienists work in private dental offices, you can also find employment in public health clinics, educational institutions, and research facilities. Some dental hygienists choose to pursue advanced education and become educators or researchers in the field. To explore different career options in dental hygiene, you can visit websites like the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA).
Salary and Compensation:
The salary of a dental hygienist can vary based on factors such as location, experience, and the type of dental practice. Researching salary information can provide you with insights into the earning potential of this role. Websites like Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) offer salary data and other information related to dental hygienist positions. By exploring these websites, you can get an idea of the average salary range for dental hygienists in your area.
Certifications and Licensure:
In addition to completing an accredited dental hygiene program, dental hygienists must also obtain a license to practice in their respective states. Licensure requirements vary by state but generally involve passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and a state or regional clinical examination. It’s important to research the specific requirements of the state in which you plan to practice.
Some dental hygienists choose to pursue additional certifications to expand their career opportunities. The most recognized certification for dental hygienists is the Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP), which allows dental hygienists to provide care in alternative settings under general supervision. Other certifications, such as the Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Certification, focus on specific areas of expertise within dental hygiene.
By completing an accredited program, obtaining the necessary licensure, and considering additional certifications, you can position yourself for success in the dental hygienist profession. Additionally, staying updated with the latest advancements in dental hygiene through continuing education and professional development is essential for career growth and staying competitive in the field.