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Dental Hygienists Rated Amongst Top Jobs for Great Work-Life Balance

Posted November 17, 2015

Tonya Lanthier, RDH

canstockphoto18364346At, we know a lot about work-life balance. Heck, our company was founded because I wanted a better way for dental professionals – and at the time, specifically hygienists – to be able to find more flexible jobs.

Work-life balance is important, after all, we all have our lives outside of work and our careers are only part of who we are. Still, many of us spend most of our time in the confines of our office and the honest truth is that our work lives can affect our personal ones. That, in part, is why it is so important to have a job with great work-life balance.

The good news for dental hygienists or those individuals aspiring to become them is that this profession is constantly rated highly in that arena. According to an infographic on work-life balance by Fitness Mentors, there are six areas that are often considered when determining what indicators contribute to jobs with great work-life balance. Let’s take a look at these indicators and see how they stack up to the dental hygienist.

Indicators of Work-Life Balance for Hygienists
According to data from Fitness Mentors, six of the main indicators of work-life balance include:
          1. Total hours worked per week
          2. Fun rating
          3. Average pay
          4. Growth potential
          5. Flexibility
          6. Stress
Luckily, we have some solid data on a few of the above indicators and have searched the web for credible sources for others.

Total Hours Worked per Week
According to data we have from over 500 survey respondents, dental hygienists work hours vary depending on their experience. It seems that full-time hygienists who have three or fewer years’ experience tend to work between 35 to 45 hours per week. Full-time employees with more than three years’ experience work 30 to 35 hours per week, and part-timers who have three or fewer years’ experience work 20 to 25 hours per week while part-timers with three-plus years’ experience work about 25 hours per week.

Fun Rating
For many, fun on the job provides a nice balance when going to work every day. We don’t have any hard and fast data on hygienist fun ratings but we can assume that employees who have more fun at work – with patients and coworkers – enjoy a bit more balance while on the clock that doesn’t result in stress.

Average Pay
The Dental Hygienist Salary Stack-Up survey we conducted found that the average salary of dental hygienists depended greatly on their experience and time with their employer. Here are the numbers on that based on the 500 hygienists we surveyed:

  • Full-time,  Full-time, 3+ Years’ Experience: $60k
  • Part-time,  Part-time, 3+ Years’ Experience: $31k
    Many hygienists make upwards of $70k, but these professionals tend to have six or more years with their employer. Bottom line, if you want to make more stick around!

Growth Potential
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow 33 percent from 2012 (the last time the study was published) to 2022. This is a much higher average than most occupations, showing promising signs for those interested or currently in this profession.

The above-referenced study also mentioned that over half of all dental hygienists work part-time and our research shows that 45 percent are parents. One could relate the high percentage of part-time workers to parents who value the flexibility dental hygienists are afforded with numerous part-time employment opportunities. In fact, a Dentistry IQ survey showed that almost 25 percent of hygienists worked in two offices, showing further proof of the flexibility of this career for those who want to work around personal commitments.

A CareerCast article from 2011 ranked hygienists number five on the 10 Least Stressful Jobs list. On the other hand, there are other articles online that cite quite the opposite. One study by the Department of Social Dentistry & Behavioural Sciences titled Work stress and burnout among dental hygienists showed hygienists dealt with a lot of musculoskeletal pain, long working hours and lack of support practice.

Having worked as a hygienist for years I can attest that it is possible for dental hygienists to experience either very little stress on the job or bodily discomfort. I’ve had neck and wrist issues from overworking my body and not holding my positions correctly. Once I started to “listen to my body” and be more attentive to my positions, I was able to alleviate these issues.

Your body is the most important tool you have. Keep it in tip-top shape and seek a work environment that will not wreck it. Check out this article on on how to prevent injuries and minimize occupational injuries to learn more about this topic.

Conclusions about Work-Life Balance and Dental Hygienists
I may be a bit biased as I love my job as a hygienist and still work one day a week as one (I run the rest of the time), but it seems that the above six indicators of work-life balance look favorable in terms of a long, satisfying career with the ability to have favorable working hours, great pay, above-average industry growth, and lots of flexibility. Perhaps this is why the below Fitness Mentors infographic places dental hygienists amongst its top jobs for work-life balance (in general), rates it as the best job for part-timers, and puts it as a top job for working moms.

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