You can Earn a Five-Digit Annual Salary with a 2-Year Degree in Dental Hygiene

Have you ever heard of the term “2 year degree jobs?” The term refers to jobs you can land after securing a two-year course. Two-year courses are also most commonly known as associate degrees. Immediately after graduating high school, you can enroll in an academic program at the undergraduate level. Then, after finishing the said program, you can secure an associate degree. 

Truth be told, 2 year degree jobs are among the hottest right now. People are starting to realize that you can get paid handsomely without having to go through four or more years of school. Also, there are online providers now where people can buy degrees, so even those who were unable to get their degrees for one reason or another can buy degrees and be qualified for two year degree jobs that pay well. You can dig this information online, for more details check this.

Associate degrees are common in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, and Hong Kong. They go by another name – foundation degrees – in the United Kingdom. Whichever name you call them, they have the same meaning worldwide – college degrees you can finish in about 2 years.

The purpose of associate degrees is to provide students fundamental knowledge, both technical and academic, and skills they can use across various occupations or roles. Hence, 2 year degree jobs exist, which are well-paying jobs for completers of associate degrees as mentioned at the outset.

One of the highest-paying two-year degrees out there is the dental hygiene program. The said program is what aspiring dental hygienists enroll in. What is a dental hygienist? Let us find out in the following section.

What is a Dental Hygienist?

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First, you must have completed dental hygiene education from an accredited dental hygiene program to be a dental hygienist. That is the only time you will be deemed eligible to take the state licensure examination. You will get your license and be eligible to practice this profession after taking and passing written licensure and clinical exams. You will also need to pass the National Examination, after which the suffix “RDH,” which stands for Registered Dental Hygienist, will be attached to your name (ex. John Doe, RDH).

As mentioned previously, before you can practice as a dental hygienist, you must have a professional license from the American Dental Association (ADA) or any similar regulatory body from the country where you will practice. Reports indicate that career prospects for the dental hygienist profession are continuously on the rise, so enrollment rates for the dental hygiene program are increasing.

The positive career prospects are why dental hygiene is among the high-paying 2 year degree jobs right now. So, if you are still unsure which career to pursue, perhaps you should look into dental hygiene. Of course, if you are already part of the dental health field and thinking of switching careers, maybe you should consider being a dental hygienist.

Suppose you enroll in a dental hygiene program and go on to obtain a degree. In that case, you will be qualified for the many dental hygienist jobs that many analysts predict will open across the United States. With dental hygiene programs included among the highest-paying two year degree jobs, you can never go wrong.

Your Tasks as a Dental Hygienist

As a dental hygienist, you will be working closely with a dentist to deliver quality, efficient, and professional service to patients. You will assist a dentist with some tasks requiring a bit of dental skill, but never the type expected from dentists. Your main goal is to make the workload of a dentist lighter so that he can focus on more complicated tasks.

Some basic tasks you will perform as a dental hygienist are:

  • Conducting oral health care screening
  • Appraising a patient’s health history
  • Screening for oral cancer
  • Dental Charting
  • Checking status of gum health

On the other hand, you will also undertake light dental procedures like:

  • Oral prophylaxis
  • Fluoride treatment and sealants
  • Take, develop, and interpret dental X-rays
  • Make dental impressions
  • Administer anesthetics or nitrous oxide analgesia pre-surgery

Other less technical tasks may include:

  • Documentation
  • Office management
  • Installation of office systems
  • A bit of bookkeeping
  • Educating and counseling patients about:
    • Proper oral hygiene
    • Nutrition
    • Plaque control
    • Ending smoking

As we can see from the list of tasks outlined above, being a dental hygienist is not boring in the least. What is more, the work hours of a dental hygienist are light. As a dental hygienist, you may opt to work a full eight-hour day three to four times a week. However, you will ideally need to work on one patient per hour (so that is eight patients a day).

Since most dental offices do not typically hire full-time dental hygienists, you have the option to work the hours mentioned above in different dental offices. Likewise, you can work more hours than what is necessary, thereby increasing your earning potential. No wonder it is one of the highest paying jobs with a 2 year degree.

The following section will discuss “the numbers” behind the dental hygienist career and dental hygiene programs.

Dental Hygiene Programs – Learning the Numbers

More and more people consider having a career in dental hygiene due to competitive salaries and excellent job prospects. The average pay a dental hygienist could earn per year with solid practice is $75,744. However, the income is dependent on the state and district where a dental hygienist is practicing.

For instance, Alaska pays the highest mean salary to dental hygienists at about $114,790 per year. In California, they get paid about $106,240 annually. The District of Columbia pays an estimated $102,380 each year to dental hygienists, while in Washington, the average salary is $93,200. On the other hand, Oregon pays its dental hygienists roughly $87,270 every year.

As we have said earlier, being a dental hygienist is not just any other kind of job. You will need to go through an undergraduate dental hygiene program, either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, and complete it to qualify for licensure. Today, the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association, an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, accredits over 300 dental hygiene entry-level programs. They also accredit dental hygiene master’s degree and degree completion programs.

Entry-level dental hygiene programs prepare students for clinical practice. Because CODA accredits them, they generally include certificate, associate degree, and bachelor degree programs. Typical dental programs require an average of 84 hours for an associate degree and 118 hours for a bachelor’s degree. Most of the programs are studied on a semester basis (88%), while others are taken on a summer study (34%). A few programs offer part-time curriculum (14%), and some offer distance learning (29%). Completion degree programs and master’s degree programs are the ones to most likely offer distance learning opportunities to aspiring dental hygienists.

Completion degree programs in dental hygiene are tailored to licensed dental hygienists who have finished their education and earned a certificate or associate degree. Around 70 percent of all dental hygiene programs require a college “science” GPA as part of the admission process, while 70 percent use the “overall” college GPA as part of the admission procedure.

Admission to a particular program can be very competitive. Hence, you need to have a high GPA if you want to make it to the best dental hygiene schools in the U.S. The majority of programs accept limited enrollments, with only around 25 percent taken in associate programs and approximately 30 percent in bachelor’s degree programs.

Dental hygiene programs accredited by the CODA typically require an average of 2,932 hours curriculum hours, including approximately 659 hours of supervised clinical training and exposure. General courses usually include psychology, sociology, English, and speech. On the other hand, basic sciences courses typically include anatomy, physiology, general chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, and nutrition.

Dental materials, dental anatomy, oral pathology, oral embryology and histology, periodontology, radiography, and oral pain control make up the dental science courses. In contrast, oral health education, patient management, community dental health, clinical dental hygiene, medical and dental emergencies, and supervised pre-clinical and clinical practice make up the dental hygiene science courses.

Please note that many of these programs utilize clinical facilities outside the campus, and most require students to do clinical rotations in different communities. Such is to train them on community dental health and make students aware of the various dental issues that afflict the different communities.

Today, the number of entry-level dental hygiene programs in the U.S. is around 335 (288 in associate degree, 56 in bachelor’s degree, eight are certificate-offered, and 45 in community colleges with bachelor degree articulation agreements). The number of degree completion dental hygiene programs, on the other hand, is 53 (42 in Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene and 11 in related degrees). And lastly, the number of programs in master’s degree is 21 (17 in Master of Science in Dental Hygiene and four in related degrees).

Dental hygiene programs need to satisfy the accreditation standards set by the Commission to achieve accreditation status. Dental hygiene, along with other medical practices, is an essential form of oral healthcare. By setting the accreditation standards, the CODA guaranteed that the dental hygienists that graduate from hygiene programs are competent and well-trained to provide the highest level of oral care to the public.

Gaurav Tiwari

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