Dental hygienist programs combine courses in science, health and dental ethics. Students will engage in both practical (hands-on) education and traditional classroom studies. A high school diploma or its equivalent is generally required for admission into a certificate program. Additionally, some programs require students to take general education classes that include basic sciences prior to admission. Students typically complete the program in 2-3 years, after which they may be eligible to sit for licensing exams.
Dental Hygienist Certification and Certificate Program
Dentistry courses are based on sciences and health, and the practical education component takes place in laboratories and general and specialty dental clinics. Students learn about proper oral care and how to clean teeth and identify oral diseases. Common class topics include the following:
- Dental materials
- Clinical periodontics
- Oral and dental anatomy
- Oral pathology
- Community oral health
- Dental radiology
- Clinical and dental hygiene
- Dental ethics
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the employment rate for dental hygienists is expected to grow rapidly, at a projected rate of 19% between 2014 and 2024. This above average growth rate is due to more people getting preventive dental care. Job prospects for qualified hygienists will be strong overall, but some variance will occur based on location. According to 2015 BLS statistics, the median annual salary for dental hygienists was $72,330.
Career and Continuing Education Info
The BLS reported that advanced career opportunities are possible for dental hygienists and usually require a bachelor's or master's degree in the field. Bachelor's programs introduce advanced clinical care with topics covering public health planning and management. Individuals who want to pursue management, research or academia jobs can consider earning a master's degree in dental hygiene.
All 50 states require dental hygienists to be registered or licensed, according to the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA). While each state sets its own licensing requirements, the American Dental Association (ADA) said that all states typically require applicants to have sufficient education and pass a written and practical exam. Continuing education may be required for license renewal.
Students who aspire to become dental hygienists can find an accredited certificate program for dental hygienists. Once students complete their certificate, they will be eligible to apply for their license.