Dental Hygienist Salary: Your 2024 Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Dental hygienists provide teeth cleaning services and other dental assistance. Find out how much you could earn in this exciting field.

[Featured Image] A dental hygienist looks at a tablet.

Dental hygienists work in clinical settings, cleaning patients’ teeth and assisting the dentist in procedures as needed. Educating patients on dental care and oral health is also an important part of this job. To become a dental hygienist, you’ll need to graduate from an accredited dental hygienist program, pass the national written exam for dental hygienists, and obtain state licensure by passing your state's clinical exam.

In this article, you’ll learn how much dental hygienists earn on average, as well as how factors like experience, location, and more can impact your salary. If you’re interested in getting started as a dental hygienist, we recommend a course on dental medicine.

What is a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a licensed oral health professional who works alongside a dentist to clean and care for a patient’s overall oral health. They may carry out any treatments or procedures a dental patient may need, based on where they work.

A dental hygienist examines and cleans a patient’s teeth while educating them on how to properly care for their teeth and gums. Dental hygienists often create a plan of care for patients, document treatment given, and report any findings during routine cleanings or office visits.

Read more: What Is a Dental Hygienist? And How to Become One

What is an average dental hygienist's salary?

A dental hygienist in the US makes on average $77,810 a year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [1]. In a clinical setting, a dental hygienist makes about half as much as a dentist, but double what a dental assistant earns. The median salary for dentists is more than $163,000 per year [2], and dental assistants earn close to $39,000 per year [3].

Dental hygienists can, on average, expect to earn a salary between $51,130 to $115,510 [4].

Factors that affect dental hygienist salary

Several factors affect a dental hygienist’s salary, including years of experience, location, and more. To earn more money, you may need to move or go back to school to increase your skill set or learn a specialty.

Dental hygienist salaries by experience

Dental hygienists with more experience tend to earn more than those who have less experience. However, this can vary depending on the type of practice you work with. Some dental hygienists who stay with the same clinic for years could potentially earn less than one who is intentional about seeking out additional certifications and switching workplaces.

Here are some salaries of dental hygienist salaries by experience, according to Glassdoor:

  • 1-3 years: $88,242 

  • 4-6 years: $94,241

  • 7-9 years: $99,597

  • 10-14 years: $110,797

  • 15+ years: $126,585

Dental hygienist salaries by location

Areas where dental services are in demand may pay more. Cities where the cost of living is greater than national averages may naturally pay more. Here are some examples of US salaries in select cities (Glassdoor), including base salary and bonus compensation:

  • New York, NY: $127,304

  • Los Angeles, CA: $121,798

  • Denver, CO: $108,097

  • Phoenix, AZ: $115,132

  • Miami, FL: $107,956

  • Washington, DC: $104,045

These salaries may seem high, but they reflect average salaries (in terms of experience) for high-paying cities in the US.

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Other factors that affect dental hygienist salaries

Besides experience and location, a dental hygienist's salary can be affected by:

Industry: You may pursue other roles outside of the traditional clinical setting, which can raise or lower your income. For example, a dental hygienist working in a government facility tends to earn less than one working in a dental practice. 

Job title: You also may find offices that offer managerial positions for dental hygienists who have been with the business for a longer time. Stepping into one of these administrative or managerial positions can boost your salary. 

Employer: Depending on where you work, your employer sets the wages you will be earning each year. If you work for a very large practice with many dental hygienists, you may earn less than another practice that hires fewer hygienists and/or has a more concentrated population to serve. 

Job outlook for dental hygienists

An optimistic job outlook is expected for dental hygienists with a projected 9 percent growth rate between 2021 and 2031. Overall, the Bureau predicts an average of 19,000 job openings each year over the decade [5].

Start learning dental medicine today

If you're interested in the field of dental hygiene, learn more about this fast-growing field by exploring the Introduction to Dental Medicine course offered by the University of Pennsylvania.

Article sources


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Dental Hygienists," Accessed on February 8, 2023.

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