Perhaps becoming a dental hygienist is of interest to you. This can be quite lucrative as this field is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States and throughout the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is expected to grow by 38 percent until 2020. Does this catch your attention?
You’ll have to have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED) to get into a dental hygienist program. Then you’ll need to take one of the college entrance exams (ACT/SAT) and pass it. It is best to make a good score on this test so make sure you practice for it before you take it. Your high school transcript should have some biology, English, chemistry and math on it and you should have a C or better in all your coursework.
Next you’ll need to apply to a two year certificate or associate’s program in dental hygiene probably with a technical school or junior college. Make sure the program is properly credentialed for your area. The two year coursework generally includes comprehensive classroom and clinical study. It is also possible to apply to a four year university and get a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. If you plan on going to the graduate level, the bachelor’s degree is the way to go but of course this will take more time and money so you need to think about that.
Once that you have completed your dental hygiene program, make sure that you have completed all the necessary coursework and clinical hours so that you can apply for a state license. If the college you go to didn’t have you take a course in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), make sure you take this course independently. Not all states require it but some do.
The next step is to apply to the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam. This test is provided by the American Dental Association and is required for you to become licensed. You have to provide proof of your education and clinical hours along with letters of recommendation to take the test. Make sure to practice taking the test so that you will do well on it. Letters of recommendation can come from any of your instructors and clinical training people.
Once you pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam and you pass your state clinical exam, you can apply for your state license. Once you have your license, you will be able to practice dental hygiene and you will carry the title of Registered Dental Hygienist.
Now, it’s time to do a job search whether that be online or perhaps in the newspaper. Try networking with the local dental community as well as attend job fairs to put you in touch with various dentist’s offices in your area. You can also contact dentist’s offices directly and place your resume in their file for future openings.
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