Working under the supervision of a licensed dentist, a dental hygienist ensures that patients receive proper instruction on basic oral hygiene. With a growth rate of nearly 40 percent projected through 2020 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a career as a dental hygienist in Maine can be very rewarding with an excellent earnings potential coupled with a steady demand. While not necessary, it helps to take some healthcare-related electives in high school, if possible. A state license is also required. The following steps are necessary and/or recommended to become a dental hygienist in Maine:
Complete a Dental Hygienist Program
To become a dental hygienist in Maine, a minimum of an associate’s degree is usually preferred by most employers within the state. Some employers will accept certification from an accredited institution only, so some research into your desired school or program is required. To enter a program, you’ll need a high school degree or the equivalent. Even if you go to a technical school for certification, you’ll still need to take your college entrance exam to be accepted. Your options are:
• Two-year Certificate or Associate’s Degree – Available through community colleges, dental schools, vocational institutes and dental schools in Maine, a two-year certificate program provides classroom and clerical instruction.
• Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene – Available at many four-year colleges or universities throughout Maine, this option requires more commitment. However, many employers prefer the diversity offered from a four-year degree program. Courses typically covers topics such as radiology, oral pathology and community dental health.
Obtain a State License
In Maine, a state license is required to work as a dental hygienist. You can take the required exam once you have completed your coursework and completed a specific number of classroom and clinical hours to have earned a certificate or degree. Most schools will provide information on how to obtain a license. According to the State of Maine Board of Dental Examiners’ website, you’ll need to complete the required application and produce a copy of your degree or certification and the results of the National Board exam, provided by the American Dental Association, and the North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners exam.
Submit Multiple Applications
Once you have obtained your required state licensing to work as a dental hygienist in Maine, the next step is to submit applications to various dental offices. In addition to independent or chain practices, dental schools are also a major source of employment for qualified dental hygienists. Some of the skills potential employers look for when seeking to hire a dental hygienist include:
• Excellent interpersonal skills (to work with an assortment of patients)
• Advanced computer skills (to keep patient records updated)
• Organizational abilities (to prioritize tasks and improve the patient experience)
Dental Hygienist Salary in Maine
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a dental hygienist in Maine can expect to earn about $45,000 annually. A more academic position, such as a dental hygienist program director, will earn you more than $100,000 per year in Maine. The job outlook for dental hygienists in Maine and throughout the United States is excellent since it’s considered an evergreen career with a steady demand regardless of economic factors.