It’s that time of year – the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has released their annual report on dental hygiene salary and employment data. You can skip to the bottom to see a full breakdown of state-by-state data, including historical figures back to 1997.
There are two important things to remember when reviewing these stats. First, these are only state averages. Metro and rural areas within each state are generally going to be higher and lower proportionately.
Second, this data does not distinguish between variations in types of clinical dental hygiene jobs. For example, a dental hygienist work in an academic setting versus a traditional clinical setting may both be included. Generally, this data is an indication of anyone holding the title of dental hygienist.
ALL Dental Hygiene Salary Data is Good
There are lots of dental hygiene salary surveys out there. Review them all! Use them all to review and understand where you stand across the marketplace and in your salary negotiations with employers.
Also, each employer has a different threshold for compensating employees – some a generous and others are, well… not so much. And, there are other factors, too. Some employers may have a lower wage but make up for it in bonuses and benefits. Others pay exceptionally well, but offer no perks.
This dental hygiene salary report is also just snapshot in time – from May 2017. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics begins gathering its data in May and within about nine months has it compiled. So in this article I will be comparing the May 2018 data from the 2017 reported findings.
States Dental Hygiene Salary Raises
Nationally, dental hygiene salary data shows hourly wages are up $0.68 from the year prior. That seems like a modest gain, but compared to other industries is actually pretty good. Nationally, all industry wages remained flat from 2016 to 2017. The overall economy continues to perform well and unemployment numbers are generally low at 4.0%. The sense on the street is that the dental hygiene job market is still saturated, there is improvement.
Fifteen states reported gains of more than $1 per hour for hygienists in 2017. Leading the way was South Dakota, which saw average wages improve by $2.81 (from $27.59 in 2016 to $30.40). That still puts South Dakota well below the national average of $35.36 and a buck-and-a-half below their North Dakota neighbors.
Also reporting big gains were Oregon, that received a $2.29 per hour raise to $39.93 and Arizona and Arkansas, that each got a $2.27 bump and are now at $42.97 and $33.70, respectively.
Others achieving significant gains were:
- Alaska ($2.06)
- Colorado ($1.99)
- Louisiana ($1.85)
- Delaware ($1.84)
- South Carolina ($1.71)
States With Dental Hygiene Salary Decline
That brings us to the losers – I’m referring to state’s wages, of course, not the hygienists living there.
Thankfully those state’s that actually saw a reduction in pay for hygienists didn’t do so quite as dramatically.
The worst was New Mexico, which saw it’s hourly average drop by $1.76 per hour. New Mexico still ranks in the top 15 in the nation so maybe they could afford the drop.
Nebraska (-$0.64) and Nevada (-$0.57) saw the next biggest drops. Nevada is still well-above the national average at $42.54 an hour but Nebraska was already below it at $31.91.
Only seven other states saw a dip, they are: Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Illinois, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Indiana.
Okay, Now What?
Again, dental hygiene salary data is interesting, but it’s greatest value is in providing a starting point for negotiation.
If you are making more than your state average you can still make a case for a raise. Your best shot at getting raises is documenting and sharing your wins and successes.
The longer you stay successfully employed in an office, and the industry, the more you are due for a raise. Experience and skill equal value – even if not every employer sees it that way.
When job hunting, hold off on salary negotiations until you are given an offer. Lots of employers will ask candidates what their salary requirements are. Know your specific requirements, but never tip your hand or you lose all power.
Share a wide range and tell them you need more information. Don’t get pinned down until you know the job is yours. There a variety of factors that go in to deciding to accept a job – salary is only one. Get more information about all compensation, office culture, travel time, etc. before you decide on an acceptable salary for that job.
To see where your state ranks, which also includes the total number of hygienists employed (including gains and losses), click here to see my full report/spreadsheet of numbers.