Becoming a Dental Hygienist Career Plan

Become a Dental Hygienist…

Dental Hygienist Resources…

This is a suggested step by step plan designed for high school students and those who have completed the high school curriculum.

  1. Take biology, chemistry, and lots of math.

  2. While in high school, participate in career fairs and job shadowing. Some schools require job shadowing hours before they will admit you to a dental hygienist program.

    One resource for dental hygienist career exploration is Learning for Life. You will find contact information on the national site — just fill out some basic information, and a local representative will get in touch with you. Other potential resources are the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and your school’s own vocational center.

  3. Research dental hygienist programs at the associate and baccalaureate levels. Either is acceptable for licensing, as long as it has been accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Accreditation for Dental Hygiene Education Programs (CODA ). However, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) notes that the scope of practice of hygienists is increasing and that those with baccalaureate degrees have more options. (A baccalaureate may be advisable, but if you do choose an associate degree, there will be degree completion options later.)

  4. Select a school and follow the admission procedures and timeline. Admission to a dental hygiene school is often a separate process from college admission. In some cases, you apply before beginning school; in others you apply after you have been enrolled in the school and completed your prerequisites.

  5. Complete prerequisites like anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and English, striving for at least a 3.0. Also complete any other requirements that are needed for entrance into the professional phase of the program. Requirements may include getting a TB skin test and providing evidence of vaccinations.

  6. Complete professional coursework and clinical requirements.

    Join a professional organization. Probably the best known is the American Dental Hygienists Association. This isn’t a mandatory step, like licensing, but it’s advisable.

  7. Fulfill your states licensing requirements.

  8. You can use your professional contacts as resources to locate a job.

Personality Traits: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ability to work with others is key for success as a dental hygienist. You also need skill using your hands.