The highest degree you can obtain in the field of dentistry is a doctorate, either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD). A dental hygiene degree is not one of the requirements for applying to dental school. The associate degree in Dental Hygiene is the quickest way to become a dental hygienist and provides students with the knowledge and experience they need to succeed. This degree usually takes about three years to complete.
Dental hygienists must have an associate degree in dental hygiene and a state license. Those who want to advance their career should consider getting a bachelor's or master's degree in dental hygiene. These advanced degrees can help dental hygienists get positions outside of the dental office, such as teaching and research. In order to take the board licensing exams, aspiring dental hygienists must earn at least an associate's degree.
Colgate offers continuing education and scholarship opportunities to dental health professionals. While job growth projections for advanced dental positions vary, careers that require more education may offer better prospects. A master's degree in Dental Hygiene is a two-year program that prepares students for leadership and educational roles in the field. This degree has a high average starting salary and strong growth projections, making it an attractive career option.
According to the American Dental Education Association, there are currently 327 accredited associate level dental hygiene education programs, 51 bachelor's degree programs, and 17 master's degree programs in the United States. Resources for international students help identify scholarships and loans to attend dental hygiene programs in the United States. Dental hygienists who want to fill more advanced positions should consider their finances, passion for their work, and job safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in dental hygiene will grow faster than the national average for all jobs.
Dental hygienists also enjoy hands-on work, interaction with patients, and plenty of opportunities for advancement. With a bachelor's degree, students can work as dental office managers and as dental hygiene educators. State licensing requirements for dental hygienists vary from state to state, although these requirements have a common goal for the licensing process. This helps ensure that you receive quality education and training in dental hygiene that employers and other universities recognize and value.