Training in Dental Hygiene

Many young people between the ages of 16-24 are finding it increasingly difficult to find work. In 2010 the unemployment rate for this age group was 19.2% and many college graduates are challenged to find a job. With retirement-aged people staying in the workforce there aren't as many jobs opening up for younger people. Considering all of this it would be wise to invest in a career that is projected to grow in the next 10 years. The field of dental hygiene is one career expected to grow; the estimate is between 30-36% by the year 2018. With shortages being reported in certain states and lucrative salaries, this is a healthcare field worth investigating.

College Training for Hygienists

What kind of training does it take to become a dental hygienist? It takes about 2 years to complete an associate's degree through a community college or technical institute. Most of these associate programs require a year of prerequisites before admission. These would consist of courses like chemistry, English, speech, psychology and sociology. You may also pursue a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene; this would be a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene (BSDH), which takes about 4 years to complete. Dental hygienists wishing to advance their career and become educators or researchers usually seek a masters degree.

While admission requirements and prerequisites vary by school, the courses you will take in a dental hygiene program do not. Besides your general education classes, you will be expected to take the following basic science courses: chemistry, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology. You will also take dental science classes consisting of the following: dental anatomy, head and neck anatomy, histology, radiography, periodontal, oral embryology, oral pathology, pain control and dental materials.

Upon graduation you will need to pass state and national board examinations as well as clinical examinations. Each state has its own licensing regulations and most schools will help you with all of these. With a salary range of $44,000 - $92,000 and steady employment forecasts, becoming a dental hygienist would be an excellent decision.