Dental Hygienist

2022 SALARY SURVEY REPORT

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Dental hygienist overview

From late July through early September 2021, DentalPost conducted the largest and most comprehensive dental professional salary survey of its kind, generating participation from more than 13,000 dental professionals nationwide. This report covers everything from compensation to work environments to the job turnover rate of dental hygienist respondents.

Highlights

There was a 25% increase in RDH participation over our 2020 survey. Despite the significant increase in respondents, we saw the exact proportions of respondents by age, gender, race/ethnic background, and type of geographic location as last year.

In 2020, 75% of full-time dental hygienist salaries ranged from $40,000 to $80,000, with 33.5% of dental hygienists earning $70,000+ annually and 15.5% earning over $80,000+ annually.
Dental hygienist income satisfaction rose 30% since last year’s survey.
Compared with last year’s survey, conducted from August to September of 2020, there is a significant decrease in the percentage of dental hygienists who intend to apply for new jobs. Last year, 43% declared this intention, and this year only 17% did.
In 2021, 72% of the full-time dental hygienist salaries ranged from $40,000 to $80,000 with 43% of dental hygienists earning $70,000+ annually and 21% of dental hygienists earning $80,000+ annually.
Among those who indicated they are dissatisfied with their income, the median income is $64,000, suggesting that it is not just the lowest paid dental hygienists unhappy with their income.

Average & median income reported nationally and by state

In the five highest-paying states and the District of Columbia, the average dental hygienist income varied from $84,000 to $109,750. The highest paying locations are Washington D.C., Alaska, California, Washington, Maryland, and Nevada.

The following statistics reflect the total 2021 income reported by dental hygienists who work more than 30 hours a week.

National RDH income

Hourly Wage: The national average hourly wage for dental hygienists responding to our 2021 survey is $38.

Average Income: The national average total income for dental hygienists responding to our 2021 survey is $70,067.

Median Income: Half of all RDHs earn $70,000 or more.

State-by-state RDH income

2021 Average Income for RDHs is greater than $80,000 in these states:
Mean(average)Median*
Washington D.C.$109,750$124,000
Alaska$93,500$76,000
California$89,635$89,000
Washington$88,441$90,000
Maryland$85,957$82,000
Nevada$84,056$80,000
2021 average income for RDHs is $70,000 to $79,000 in these states:
Mean(average)Median*
Hawaii$78,500$76,000
Oregon$77,677$80,000
Virgin Islands$76,667$75,000
Colorado$75,627$58,000
Massachusetts$75,447$75,000
New Hampshire$75,284$75,000
Virginia$75,168$75,000
New Mexico$74,419$72,000
Vermont$74,261$76,000
Montana$74,010$70,000
Oklahoma$73,899$75,000
South Dakota$73,262$70,000
New Jersey$72,390$70,000
New York$72,376$70,000
Connecticut$72,073$63,000
Louisiana$71,710$68,500
Arizona$70,577$70,000
2021 average income for RDHs is $60,000 to $69,000 in these states:
Mean(average)Median*
Texas$69,882$70,000
Minnesota$69,559$69,000
Nebraska$69,192$68,000
Illinois$69,055$70,000
Missouri$68,301$65,000
North Dakota$68,000$65,000
Georgia$66,580$65,000
North Carolina$65,327$65,000
Delaware$67,300$69,000
Wisconsin$65,025$69,000
Florida$64,286$62,000
Indiana$63,665$60,000
Idaho$63,133$65,000
Arkansas$62,912$65,000
Iowa$62,786$56,000
Ohio$62,147$60,000
South Carolina$61,933$62,000
Kansas$61,869$65,000
Tennessee$61,473$60,000
Maine$61,183$64,000
West Virginia$60,916$55,000
Utah$60,605$68,000
2021 average income for RDHs is $40,000 to $59,000 in these states:
Mean(average)Median*
Rhode Island$59,154$59,000
Pennsylvania$58,786$60,000
Michigan$58,350$57,800
Kentucky$54,896$55,000
Mississippi$54,330$53,000
Wyoming$54,190$59,904
Alabama$44,792$40,000
Island of Puerto Rico$40,000$40,000

*50% of respondents in the state earn this income or higher.

Average & median income of dental hygienist reported by experience

The glass ceiling is a concern for dental hygienists as they advance through their careers. Interestingly, we learned that the top earners are dental hygienists with 10 to 19 years of experience. Their average income is $71,599.

New dental hygienists who graduated in May of 2021 earn more than hygienists hired in the two prior years.

Average income by years of experience

May 2021 graduates$68,235
1 year$62,484
1 to 2 years$64,187
3 to 9 years$69,513
10-19 years$71,599
20-29 years$69,564
30+ years$70,563

The top earners are dental hygienists with 10 to 19 years of experience. Their average income is $71,599.

Why do RHDs with 20+ years of experience earn less than those with less experience?

Hygienists with 20-29 years of experience make less than those who started their careers in the preceding decade and the following decade. These hygienists are not working fewer hours on average compared with other experience groups.

Starting wages can have a lifetime impact on income. When those with 20 to 29 years of experience were starting their careers, economic conditions could have given them a lower start. There was a sharp slowdown in the economy in 1995. The economy started to pick up in 1996, 1998 was better, and then the recession of 2001 hit and kept unemployment stubbornly at 5% that year.

Dental hygienists’ average & median income by employment type

The following income numbers are based on the reported total income of responding dental hygienists who work more than 30 hours a week.

Average IncomeMedian Income*
General Private Practice$68,939$66,500
Corporate Practice$73,758$73,000
Specialist Private Practice$67,868$68,000
Public Health$71,748$71,000
Community Clinic$79,224$75,000
Military$79,572$85,000
Hospital$71,690$75,000
University$64,133$68,000
Prison$66,917$66,000
Public Schools$67,150$68,000
Mobile Clinic$59,333$58,000
All Other$71,103$71,000

*Half of the RDHs in this type of employment reported an income equal to or greater than the median income for their employment type.

Average & median income of dental hygienists compared for metro, suburban, and rural locations

The median income for full-time dental hygienists in metropolitan and suburban communities is $70,000. The median income for full-time dental hygienists in rural areas is $64,000.

Dental hygienists working in metropolitan communities are paid somewhat more than in suburban communities. The greatest disparity occurs in rural communities. The 2021 average and median income numbers follow for RDHs who work more than 30 hours a week.

Average IncomeMedian Income
Metro$73,140$70,000
Suburban$70,872$70,000
Rural/small$65,790$64,000

Dental hygienist pay raises & income satisfaction

Most hygienists received pay raises in the last two years. Compared with past years, more dental hygienists say they are “very satisfied” with their total income.

In 2021, 72% of full-time dental hygienist salaries ranged from $40,000 to $80,000 with 43% of RDHs earning $70,000+ annually and 21% of RDHs earning $80,000+ annually. That’s an increase of 10% more RDHs earning $70,000+ and 5% more RDH earning $80,000+ annually.

When did dental hygienists last receive a pay raise?

We asked the survey audience when they received their last pay raise. Just over 40% of respondents said their last raise was during the prior 12 months. Another 22% said their raise was in the last 1 to 2 years.

Some dental hygienists said they have never received a pay increase (14%). That 14%, represented not just young RDHs but also hundreds of RDHs who have worked 10 to 30+ years.

How big were dental hygienists’ pay increases in the last year?

Just over 32% of dental hygienists who have received a raise in the last two years reported an increase of 1 to 5%.

27.5% reported an increase of 6 to 10%.

Dental hygienists income satisfaction

We asked the survey audience how satisfied they are with their total income. In the following two charts that compare satisfaction a year ago (2020) with this year’s survey results (2021), the “very satisfied” percentage increased and the “very dissatisfied” percentage decreased.

In 2021, the percentage of dental hygienists who were “satisfied” with their income increased significantly when total income exceeded $70,000+.

Respondent Information

Every state and the District of Columbia were represented by the dental hygienists who responded to DentalPost’s 2021 Salary Survey.

Demographic information follows and remains largely consistent with the previous year’s survey report.

Age & years of experience

What size communities do they live in?

Metro26%
Suburban46.5%
Rural27%

By gender, responding dental hygienists were:

Female98.5%
Male1.5%

Which race/ethnicity did they say best describes them?

For comparison, here are the latest Race/Ethnicity percentages in the U.S. population:

U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States 

60%White alone, not Hispanic
18.5%Latino/Hispanic alone
13.4%Black or African American alone
5.9%Asian alone
2.8%Two or more races
1.3%American Indian/Alaskan Native
.2%Hawaiian/Pacific Island

27% of responding RDHs are the sole income earner in their household