Is It Hard to Get a Job as a Dental Hygienist? Job Market Insight

Brushing up against reality, the pursuit of a hygienist’s chair can be like flossing through steel wool—tough and slightly intimidating. If thoughts of a tight job market are giving your career aspirations a toothache, take a deep breath and a little swish of optimism.

In this post, we’ll explore the real crunch of the dental hygienist job market, providing clarity and perspective on your chances of landing the gig.

Quick Takeaways

  • Market Outlook: Employment for dental hygienists is growing faster than average, with a 6% increase expected from 2019 to 2029; however, competition varies by location.
  • Key Qualifications: An associate degree, passing national and state exams, and a state license are essential, alongside skills in communication, manual dexterity, and empathy.
  • Stand Out Tips: Beef up your resume with clinical experience and tech skills, network actively, and pursue continuing education and volunteer work to rise above the competition.

How Competitive Is the Dental Hygienist Job Market?

When you’re eyeing a career as a dental hygienist, it’s perfectly natural to wonder about your chances of landing a job in this field. The job market for dental hygienists can certainly be competitive, but that doesn’t mean it’s a tough nut to crack. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.

But here’s the skinny: The demand can vary significantly depending on where you are. Some areas have a higher demand due to population growth, while others might be saturated with dental hygiene programs pumping out new grads. For instance, bustling urban centers or states with burgeoning healthcare systems might have more job openings. It’s also worth noting that ongoing healthcare policies could influence the landscape by altering coverage for dental care.

Impact of factors such as population growth and healthcare policies:

  • Population Growth: Areas with a booming population may see a higher need for dental services, thus potentially increasing the demand for dental hygienists.
  • Healthcare Policies: Changes in healthcare legislation, such as expansions in health insurance coverage, can directly influence job opportunities in dental hygiene.

What Are the Qualifications and Skills You Need?

To get your foot in the door, you’ll need a combination of education, certification, and a set of polished skills.

Educational Requirements:

  • Most states require at least an associate degree in dental hygiene.
  • You’ll need to pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.
  • State-level exams are also a must for licensure.

Certifications and Skills:

  • A state license is non-negotiable for practicing hygienists.
  • Superior manual dexterity is a must since you’ll be working with small tools in a tight space.
  • Strong interpersonal skills will help you put patients at ease and explain treatments.

Having additional qualifications, like bachelor’s or master’s degrees in dental hygiene or related fields, can give you an edge. If you’re keen on taking up leadership roles or delving into research and teaching, higher education can be a definite boost.

How Can You Stand Out When Applying for Dental Hygienist Jobs?

With all the right boxes ticked in terms of qualifications, you want to make sure to shine bright like a diamond amongst other candidates. Here’s the scoop on how to do just that:

Resume Tips:

  • Flaunt your clinical experience and any specialty areas you’ve trained in.
  • Highlight any tech proficiency, especially with dental software.
  • Showcase soft skills and experiences that demonstrate empathy, communication, and teamwork.


  • Reach out to professionals in the field through social media platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Attend conferences and seminars to make connections and learn about job openings.

Job Interview Prep:

  • Research common interview questions for dental hygienists and prepare thoughtful, articulate responses.
  • Practice talking about your practical experiences with real-world examples.

Stay Up-to-date with Industry Advancements:

  • Subscribe to dental journals and be active in professional associations to keep abreast of the latest trends.

An often overlooked but unique tip: volunteering. Lend your skills to free dental clinics or public health initiatives. This can not only give you invaluable experience but also demonstrate a commitment to community service – something that can definitely set you apart.

Remember, every step you take from refining your resume to shaking hands at a networking event, is a stepping stone towards snagging that dental hygienist job you’ve got your eye on. Keep building those bridges, and don’t be afraid to go the extra mile with continuing education and community involvement. It’s those added efforts that often turn heads and open doors.

What’s the Outlook for Dental Hygienist Careers in the Next Few Years?

As with any profession, the future of dental hygiene is shaped by a number of factors, from technological innovations to shifts in the way dental care is provided. Let’s sink our teeth into what the outlook might be for dental hygienists in the years to come.

Embracing Technological Advancements

The dental field isn’t immune to the tech wave that’s sweeping across all sectors. Advancements in digital dentistry tools, like intraoral cameras and 3D imaging, are not only changing the way dental assessments are done but also how dental hygienists perform their duties. With such technologies at your fingertips, you can anticipate a more efficient work process, more engaged patients, and even better clinical outcomes.

Laser dentistry is another exciting area. It’s becoming more commonplace and could soon be part of the standard toolkit for hygienists. If you’re in this field, staying ahead of the curve could mean getting additional certifications in using these advanced tools.

Trends in Dental Care Delivery

The traditional dental office is evolving, too. In recent years, there’s been a noticeable shift toward corporate dentistry and dental service organizations (DSOs), which could mean a change in employment patterns for hygienists. Employment in larger practices or chains might come with different job expectations and environments compared to smaller, private offices.

Also, don’t overlook mobile dentistry and teledentistry, which are redefining accessibility to dental care. Given the increasing demand for convenience and the push for greater reach in preventative dental care, these services could lead to novel roles and job settings for hygienists. It’s a brave new world out there, and it might just be mobile!

Job Availability and Market Growth

Now, let’s talk numbers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. An aging population, increased research linking oral health to general health, and rising demand for preventive dental services all contribute to this positive job outlook.

One unique facet that many commentators overlook is the increasing collaboration between dental professionals and other healthcare providers. This interdisciplinary approach to healthcare means that dental hygienists who can work within diverse healthcare teams may be in higher demand. Imagine, as a hygienist, collaborating with dietitians, general practitioners, and even heart specialists to ensure a holistic approach to a patient’s health.

Practical Advice for Aspiring Dental Hygienists

  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on industry journals and websites like the American Dental Hygienists’ Association for the latest in dental hygiene.
  • Keep Learning: Consider continuing education courses to keep up with the latest technologies and methodologies. For instance, a course in laser dentistry can set you apart from the crowd.
  • Network: Engage with professional groups and online forums to stay abreast of changes in the field and to connect with potential employers.

Move past the basics and consider what additional skills you can bring to the table. For example, a dental hygienist with a flair for social media and online patient engagement could be just what a modern, forward-thinking dental practice is looking for. Or perhaps, your bilingual skills could open doors to communities where those languages are predominantly spoken, and interpreters in health care are in short supply.

In summary, the future for dental hygienists looks bright, and with change comes opportunity. It’s an inviting prospect—if you’re eager to learn and adapt, the world of dental hygiene offers a career pathway that’s dynamic and rewarding. Keep your finger on the pulse of innovation, maintain a mindset of continual professional development, and you’ll be sure to not just ride the wave of change but surf it like a pro.

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!