One option for advancing your career as a dental hygiene administrator is to become a public health administrator. You'll need extensive experience and further education in order to work this position and are meant for those interested in working non-traditional settings such as schools and community health facilities.
Though dental hygiene practitioners can operate in the arena of public health, they rarely enter public health administration without significantly more education and experience, and work in public health dental hygiene administration is rare. Employment as a dental hygienist requires completion of an associate's degree program plus state licensure. Those who seek to advance to related public health roles can expect to need additional education, such as a bachelor's degree; public health administration jobs often require at least a master's degree.
|Required Education||Associate's degree for entry-level work; bachelor's and/or advanced degree for employment in public health roles|
|Other Requirements||State dental hygienist license|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) *||19% for dental hygienists|
|Median Annual Salary (2015) *||$72,330 for dental hygienists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Duties and Education
A dental hygiene practitioner is a mid-level dental health professional who cleans teeth, takes x-rays, polishes fillings, identifies cavities and makes molds for dental prosthetics. A dental hygienist is not required to have a degree in dentistry, so education time and expense is lower than that of dentists. Dental hygienists normally get an associate's degree through an accredited dental hygiene program.
Dental Hygienists in Public Health
Dental hygienists in the public health care arena might need a more advanced degree, such as a bachelor's degree, or an associate's degree along with several years of experience. While dental hygienists typically must be supervised by a dentist and work in a dentist's office, public health dental hygiene practitioners can work unsupervised. They perform a dental hygienist's normal services, along with a few others, such as administering local anesthetics and educating the public about oral health.
Public health dental hygiene practitioners often work in settings where they see patients who otherwise might not receive dental care. High schools, colleges and community health facilities are all common practice locations for public health dental hygienists.
Public Health Administration and Dental Hygiene
Public health administration and dental hygiene are seldom specifically linked, and while dental hygienists in the public health sphere might play a part in educating the public on oral health topics, public health dental hygienists are seldom called upon to take a role in public health administration. Often those in dental hygiene-related public health administration hold a master's degree or doctorate and have specialized in dental hygiene and public health administration.
Although difficult to find, becoming a dental hygiene public health administrator can be a rewarding career path for those experienced in dental hygiene and who are looking for advancement.