Online Dental Hygiene Degree

Becoming a dental hygienist seems to be a wise decision considering it is one of the fastest growing career opportunities in the United States. Growth expectations are between 30% and 36% by the year 2018, with shortages of dental hygienists being reported in some states. The salary range varies widely, but even at the low end of the salary range it is still quite lucrative. With this in mind you may wonder what kind of degree you will need to practice as a dental hygienist? An associate's degree is considered an entry level degree, but some students choose to pursue a bachelor's degree. Many community colleges and technical schools offer an associate's degree which takes about 2 years to complete. You may be required to have a year of prerequisite college courses before being accepted into a dental hygiene program. Whether you are pursuing an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree, the school should be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditations (CODA).

Courses Required for a Dental Hygiene Degree

Course requirements may vary from school to school, but most dental hygiene degrees offer similar classes. Included in these are general education classes such as speech, English, psychology and sociology. You will be required to take general science courses as well as dental science classes. These include chemistry, physiology, anatomy, bio-chemistry, microbiology, nutrition and pharmacology for the general sciences. Classes you will be expected to take in dental sciences are head and neck anatomy, dental anatomy, oral pathology, periodontal, radiography, dental materials and dental pharmacology.

Additional Requirements After Completing the Degree

Once you've completed your schooling you will either have an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree or a Bachelor of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene degree. One may also pursue a master's degree if you are looking to pursue a career in education or administration. Upon graduation you will need to pass the national written board examination and a clinical state board examination. Although each state has its own state examination and licensure exam they will be similar. This is the clinical portion of your testing. Dentists and dental hygienists, practicing in your state, will assess your skills in a patient setting.

There aren't many career choices out there that have this potential, especially in the current economic climate. A career as a dental hygienist is worth considering, whether you are a recent high school graduate or someone looking for a career change.