Education & Careers

Career Paths

Define your role.

Working in a private dental office continues to be the primary place of employment for dental hygienists. For today’s dental hygiene professional, there are many other career pathways to explore as well. Never before has there been more opportunity for professional growth. How and where you work today is up to you.

Let your dental hygiene education and experience open doors to YOUR career path and consider the possibilities…

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Thinking Outside the Box: The Path to a New Career

Clinician:

Dental hygienists in a clinical role assess, diagnose, plan, implement, evaluate and document treatment for prevention, intervention and control of oral diseases, while practicing in collaboration with other health professionals. Examples of clinical settings include:

  • Private dental practices
  • Community clinics
  • Hospitals
  • University dental clinics
  • Prison facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools

Corporate:

Corporate dental hygienists are employed by companies that support the oral health industry through the sale of products and services. Leaders throughout the dental industry often employ dental hygienists due to their clinical experience and understanding of dental practice. Examples of corporate positions include:

  • Sales representatives
  • Product researchers
  • Corporate educators
  • Corporate administrators

Public Health:

Community Health programs are typically funded by government or nonprofit organizations. These positions often offer an opportunity to provide care to those who otherwise would not have access to dental care. Examples of public health opportunities include a variety of roles and settings:

  • Clinicians, Administrators, Researchers
  • State Public Health Officer
  • Community Clinic Administrator
  • Indian Health Service
  • Head Start programs
  • Local health departments
  • National Health Service Corps
  • School sealant programs
  • Rural or inner city community clinics

Researcher:

Research conducted by dental hygienists can be either qualitative or quantitative. Quantitative research involves conducting surveys & analyzing the results, while qualitative research may involve testing a new procedure, product, or theory for accuracy or effectiveness. Examples of research settings include:

  • Colleges and universities
  • Corporations
  • Governmental agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations

Educator:

Dental Hygiene educators are in great demand. Colleges and universities throughout the U. S. require dental hygiene instructors who use educational theory and methodology to educate competent oral health care professionals. Corporations also employ educators who provide continuing education to licensed dental hygienists. Examples of education positions may be full time or part time and include:

  • Clinical instructors
  • Classroom instructors
  • Program directors
  • Corporate educators

Administrator:

Dental hygienists in administrative positions apply organizational skills, communicate objectives, identify and manage resources, and evaluate and modify programs of health, education and health care. Examples of administrative positions include:

  • Clinical Director, statewide school sealant program
  • Program Director, dental hygiene educational program
  • Dean of Health Sciences, educational institution
  • Executive Director, state association staff
  • Director, corporate sales

Entrepreneur:

By using imagination and creativity to initiate or finance new commercial enterprises, dental hygienists have become successful entrepreneurs in a variety of businesses. Entrepreneurial opportunities developed by dental hygienists include:

  • Product Development and Sales
  • Practice Management Company
  • Employment Service
  • CE provider or Meeting Planner
  • Consulting Business
  • Founder of Nonprofit
  • Independent Clinical Practice
  • Professional Speaker / Writer

Learn more about the educationlicensure, and training required for dental hygiene career options.