How Long Does IT Take to Become a Dental Hygienist?
A career as a dental hygienist requires anywhere from 2-3 years of school, including pre-requisites and any licensing examinations. Many graduates may find jobs with as little as an associate's degree or, in some cases, a certificate. However, depending on the type of advancement someone wants in his or her career, a bachelor or master's degree might be more desirable.
Becoming a Dental Hygienist
Dental Hygienist Education
A high school diploma and college entrance tests are required for admission into a dental hygiene program. In high school, students are advised to take courses in mathematics, chemistry and biology.
A dental hygienist needs to graduate from an accredited school. Most dental hygienist programs only grant associate's degrees, but some offer bachelor's and master's degrees. To work as a dental hygienist in a private dental office typically requires an associate's degree though a certificate may be accepted in some cases. In order to go into research, public health or teaching, dental hygienists will require bachelor's or master's degrees.
What Do Dental Hygienist Schools Offer?
In addition to coursework, the dental hygienist school curriculum involves laboratory and clinical practice. Anatomy, chemistry, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, radiography, periodontology, pathology, dental materials, histology and other courses make up the coursework. Depending on the program and the amount of pre-requisites taken, a student can become a dental hygienist within four years; however, master's degree programs may take six or more years.
In order to practice as a dental hygienist, one needs a degree from a dental hygiene school and a state license. To become licensed, dental hygienists need to pass a clinical and written exam. The written exam is administered by the American Dental Association's (ADA) Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, and the clinical exam is administered by state or regional testing agencies. The only state exempt from the ADA written exam is Alabama. Instead, the state uses the requirements established by the Alabama Dental Hygiene Program. It includes taking courses, completing clinical training and passing a licensing exam that is administered by the state of Alabama.
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