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Fast-Tracking Your Career as a Dental Hygienist: How Long Does it Take?

February 09, 2023 · 3 min read

Becoming a dental hygienist is a rewarding and lucrative career choice that offers the opportunity to help people maintain good oral health. However, the time it takes to become a dental hygienist can be a concern for those who want to enter the field quickly. Fortunately, there are several ways to fast-track your career and minimize the time it takes to become a dental hygienist.

The traditional route to becoming a dental hygienist is to complete an associate’s degree in dental hygiene, which typically takes two years. This program includes both theoretical and clinical training, and prepares graduates for licensure exams. After passing the exams, dental hygienists can apply for state licensure and start working in a dental office.

However, if you want to become a dental hygienist as quickly as possible, you can consider the following options:

  1. Accelerated programs: Some schools offer accelerated dental hygiene programs that can be completed in just one year. These programs are typically designed for individuals who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field or have substantial experience working in a healthcare setting. Accelerated programs offer a fast-paced and intensive learning experience that can help you enter the field sooner.
  2. Online programs: If you have a busy schedule or other responsibilities that make it difficult to attend in-person classes, you can consider enrolling in an online dental hygiene program. Online programs offer the flexibility to study and complete coursework from anywhere, at any time. While online programs may take longer than traditional in-person programs, they can still help you enter the field more quickly than if you had to wait for a traditional program to become available.
  3. On-the-job training: In some states, dental hygienists can start working as soon as they pass the necessary exams and obtain state licensure. While on-the-job training may take longer than a formal education program, it provides hands-on experience and can help you build a network of contacts in the field.

Regardless of the route you choose, it is important to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and that it prepares you for the required licensure exams.

In addition to formal education and training, there are several other steps you can take to fast-track your career as a dental hygienist:

  • Obtain certification: Obtaining certification from a professional organization such as the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) or the Dental Hygiene National Board Exam (DHNBE) can demonstrate your competency and expertise in the field. This can help you stand out to potential employers and advance your career more quickly.
  • Network with professionals: Building a network of contacts in the dental hygiene field can help you find job opportunities, stay informed about industry developments, and connect with like-minded individuals. Joining professional organizations, attending conferences, and participating in online forums are all great ways to build your network.
  • Seek out additional responsibilities: Taking on additional responsibilities in your current job or seeking out new opportunities can help you gain experience and demonstrate your dedication to the field. This can help you advance your career and increase your earning potential.

In conclusion, the time it takes to become a dental hygienist can vary depending on the route you choose and the steps you take to fast-track your career. However, with the right education and training, certification, networking, and professional development, you can minimize the time it takes to become a successful and highly skilled dental hygienist.

by Liza Sushko

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