Who is a dental hygienist?
So you are wanting to become a dental hygienist and are asking yourself where do I begin; well continue reading and you will find all the information you need to learn how to become a dental hygienist.
A dental hygienist is a professional who cleans teeth of a patient when he/she goes for the routine dentist visit. Dental hygienists work with dental assistants to assist dentists. Besides teaching patients to observe the right oral hygiene, they carry out patient assessments, teeth cleanings and oral inspections.
Before learning how to become a dental hygienist you might want to know where one works. One works in specialty dental clinics but may also be employed in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.
How to Become a Dental Hygienist
1) High School Preparation for Admission to a Secondary School
Learning how to become a dental hygienist starts early; an aspiring dental hygienist should start preparing for their career in high school. You should take a coursework in biology, chemistry, math, psychology and health to improve your chances of obtaining admission into a postsecondary dental hygiene program.
Most dental hygiene programs require the mentioned relevant course work along with a high school diploma besides submitting college test scores. Some programs admit students directly from high school while others require at least a year of college-level course work before being admitted.
2) Select a Quality Undergraduate Program
Dental hygienists typically are holders of Associates degree in dental hygiene. This program takes two years and is available at community colleges, dental schools, and vocational institutes. The Associates Degree prepares students for everyday work life of dental hygienists and will help you perform properly in “real life” circumstances. Courses offered include dental materials, oral pathology, infection control, community dental health, radiology, pain management and pharmacology.
3) Pass the Licensing Exam
All the states in the country require that dental hygienists be licensed. The eligibility requirements for becoming a dental hygienist vary by state. However, many states require candidate to be holders of post secondary degrees from accredited dental hygiene teaching institutions. A qualified candidate then sits for National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, which is a written examination given by the American Dental Association.
Additional Information on How to Become a Dental Hygienist in Alabama
How to become a dental hygienist in the state of Alabama
The state of Alabama gives its own licensing exam for candidates. In other states, dental hygienists may be required to also pass practical exam and one on law and regulations.
Getting an Advanced Degree
Associates degree may be enough for most dental hygienists but for others they may want to foster their career development by getting an advanced degree. A master’s degree in dental hygiene can foster careers beyond the dental office. One can get into teaching and research.
Job Outlook for Dental Hygienists
The job outlook for dental hygienists is very strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job prospect is expected to grow by 36 percent by 2018. This is a much faster than average growth rate.
Salary outlook for Dental Hygienists
According to BLS, a dental hygienist earns a median annual income of $66,570, based on the 2008 salary data. This was the most recent available as of late 2011. The middle 505 of dental hygienists are paid $55,000 to $78,000. The top 105 of dental hygienists earn a starting salary of $91,000 annually.
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