How Much Does It Cost to Become a Dental Hygienist?

According to the Forbes, dental hygienist was the second best job in healthcare for 2014.

It is not difficult to see why.

For, a dental hygienist enjoys high salary, flexible working hours, andmost importantly, job stability along with career advancement opportunities.

Nonetheless, the cost to become a dental hygienist is by no means cheap. In fact, in most cases, it's quite expensive.

But we will get to that later. First, let’s talk about the qualification you would need to become a dental hygienist.

You need to have either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree to start practicing.

In order to get one, you need to enrol yourself in a dental hygiene program. Let's get a look at which oral hygiene programs you can get into-

Dental Hygiene Programs

To become a dental hygienist you are required to complete an entry-level oral hygiene program.

There are more than 300 (bachelor's degree, associate degree, or certificate) dental hygiene programs across the country accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA), which is an accrediting company acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education.

Once you have got yourself admitted into a dental hygiene school, you will need around 86 credits to complete your associate degree in oral hygiene.  In contrast, you are required to get about 122 credits to complete the bachelor's degree.

Most of the dental hygiene programs are available in the community and junior colleges. Nonetheless, you can get dental hygiene degree from a university or technical schools too.

The Cost for an Associate's Degree

The American Dental Hygienists' Association reported that the average estimated overall cost of tuition and fees for an associate’s degree is approximately $22,692.

It takes two years to complete an associate's degree program. During the program, you will get lessons on patient care, improve your ability of critical thinking and develop the capability of solving problems more efficiently.

Once you have completed the dental hygiene program, then you can start your career as a dental hygienist.

But before you begin practicing, you are required to pass both written and clinical exam to get licensed.

The Cost for a Bachelor's Degree

A baccalaureate degree will cost you around $36,382.

Moreover, it will take 4 years to complete the course before you start practicing.

Although the bachelor's degree is expensive and takes longer to complete, it is essential for advanced education and opens up doors of new opportunities for you.

Moreover, having a bachelor's degree can be pretty helpful in landing a high-paying job, as many dentists now require a bachelor's degree before hiring a dental hygienist. 

The Cost for a Master's Degree

According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, you'll have to spend $30,421 for a master's degree in oral science.

It takes around 1-2 years to complete, depending on whether you study full time or part-time.

A master's degree isn't compulsory for getting work as an oral healthcare practitioner. Yet, it could work wonders for your career as a dental hygienist, as it can set you for a career in education, administration, and leadership.

Is It Worth The Money?

Undoubtedly! If you can afford the cost, then you should certainly get into a dental hygiene program.

For it’s difficult to find another job which will let you earn an average salary of $70,000 per year with minimum schooling.

Moreover, the expected job growth rate of this profession is approximately 38%. Therefore, you won't have to fear unemployment even if there’s an economic downturn going on.

In addition, you can even get into research or teaching profession by completing the master's degree.

In the oral healthcare field, the working hours are flexible.

Flexible working hours could be very convenient for those who don't want to within a fixed routine. It’s entirely your choice whether you want to work full-time, part-time or only on weekends.

Is It Possible To Work While You Are In The Dental Hygiene Program?

If you can manage your time efficiently, then there's no problem with having a job.

However, I would recommend you to work only during weekends as you need time for study and tests.


There's no denying the fact that studying in dental hygiene school is expensive. However, it's worth the money if it means that you will be able to fulfil your dream of becoming a dental hygienist.

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