Continuing education is necessary for dental hygienists to maintain their licensure in most states. Classes are offered at most universities and community colleges. Some classes involve hands-on work while others provide seminars and courses. No matter the course structure, continuing education is vital for dental hygienists to further their career.
Dental hygienists examine, clean and x-ray patients' teeth. These professionals must, at a minimum, earn a two-year degree in dental hygiene from an accredited school, and secure a state license to practice. Like many other healthcare professionals, most dental hygienists must earn continuing education credits to maintain their licenses.
|Required Education||Associate's degree in dental hygiene|
|Certification||State licensure required; continuing education required to maintain licensure|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||19%*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$72,330*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Continuing Education Requirements for Dental Hygienists
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that all dental hygienists must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program and receive a state license in order to practice (www.bls.gov). After undergoing this formal education and licensing process, dental hygienists are required to complete a certain amount of continuing education to maintain their licenses in nearly all states. The amount of educational hours required varies by state, but it ranges from 14 hours every two years to 75 hours every three years. Currently, only Colorado and Wyoming do not have mandatory continuing education for dental hygienists.
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Dental Hygienist Continuing Education Program Information
The structure of continuing education programs differs depending on the kind of provider that professionals choose. Some programs involve courses and seminars, while others focus on workshops. These programs are available at community colleges, universities, professional associations and online schools. Some courses offered in continuing education programs may include local anesthesia, osteoporosis of the jaw and dental radiography.
Online course options are an alternative for professionals who may not have a flexible work schedule. These courses allow students to complete the coursework in their own free time. Regardless of the structure chosen, continuing education programs provide dental hygienists the opportunity to learn more about their career field.
Benefits of Dental Hygienist Continuing Education
Continuing education programs are beneficial for both professionals in the dental industry and their patients. These programs help dental hygienists increase their knowledge of specific topics in their field and familiarize themselves with the latest technological advances. By remaining up-to-date, dental hygienists may be able to pursue career advancement or request pay increases, depending on their skill level and competency. Above all, dental hygienists will be better prepared to assist dentists and provide care for patients.
Career and Salary Information
The BLS estimates a 19% job growth for dental hygienists in the years 2014-2024. These workers earned $72,330 as a median annual salary in May 2015.
Continuing education courses offer dental hygienists a method for keeping up with the latest developments in the field. An added benefit is that continuing studies reflect well on the professional and may impress future employers, thus improving the hygienists' chances of obtaining a new position.