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Dental Hygienist Job Outlook

In a sputtering economy and brutally competitive job market, it is important for those just starting out to select an occupation that is in demand and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. The two biggest threats to the industry right now are automation and outsourcing. Careers that cannot easily be replaced by machines or shipped overseas are the safest bets for anyone wanting to ensure a long and profitable career which makes the best use of their education.

One career option that offers plenty of job opportunities, the ability to make an above average salary, and does not require an oppressive amount of education, training, or experience, is dental hygiene.

Dental hygienists in the United States make an average of over $33 per hour or $70,000 per year. Unlike most careers which command that kind of salary, such as an accountant or an engineer, a career in dental hygiene requires only an associate’s degree, which can be completed in two years. Aside from schooling and basic licensure, there is no requirement for specific job training or training in a related field.

This makes the barriers to entry for becoming a dental hygienist extremely low, especially considering the salary and portability of the job – people need dentists in every state and in every city, big and small.

The biggest benefit, however, to becoming a dental hygienist is the job outlook. In 2012, there were 192,800 dental hygienist jobs in the United States – not a small number at all. Even better, that number is expected to increase by 33 percent to over 250,000 jobs by the year 2012. This is much faster job growth than is projected for the average career field in the United States.

Why such a bullish job outlook for dental hygiene? There are several reasons. First off, with health care reform taking effect in America, it is hopeful that many people will save money on their regular healthcare, thus freeing up funds to take care of dental work they may have neglected in recent years due to an inability to pay. Second, social media and the ubiquity of cameras in today’s society have made us all much more image conscious. There aren’t many things which can spoil the image a person projects than bad teeth and poor dental hygiene. Everyone wants straight white teeth and a million dollar smile, increasing the demand for dental hygienists. Finally, more and more of a discernible link between dental health and overall health is becoming clearly evident. This is causing people to place a greater importance on preventative dental care, much of which is performed by dental hygienists.

The strong outlook for dental hygiene in a career is not just a broad national trend with regional peaks and valleys. There is not an area of the country where job growth in the field of dental hygiene is not expected to be strong in the coming years. This makes it a great fit for anyone who does not want to be tied to a certain area due to a dearth of job prospects elsewhere. Dental hygienists, like nurses, are much freer to up and move to another area of the country on a whim and have confidence there will be a job waiting for them when they arrive.

The overall economy certainly has seen better days and there are still large segments of the job market facing uncertainty. Dental hygiene is not one of them. There has never been a better time to get into this growing, lucrative field.