Canada’s Best Jobs 2014: Dental Hygienist

Way more than just cleaning and flossing

Dental Hygienist working on a young patient

(Boston Globe/Getty)

Median Salary: $70,637
Change in salary (2007–2013): -0.1%
Total employees: 22,600

If you fancy working in the dental health profession but can’t see yourself enduring or affording all those years of dental school, starting a career as a dental hygienist might be a good option with a good income and a positive employment outlook.

How to Qualify: All dental hygienists in Canada require a college diploma in dental hygiene, after which they must write the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board exam (Quebec’s dental hygienists are exempt, however). You must also register with the governing body that oversees the dental hygiene profession in your province. It’s important to note that some provinces allow dental hygienists to administer anaesthesia, while others do not—generally the training in these provinces mimics whether or not those in the profession are able to perform this task. So, if you’re moving to a province where dental hygienists handle anaesthetics but didn’t receive training, you may need to get this extra qualification before starting work.

Money: According to the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, which conducts salary surveys for the profession (the last one was completed in 2013), the average hourly rate for dental hygienists across Canada is about $40.18. Salaries differ according to experience and location as well. Respondents to the CDHA survey who were under the age of 30 had an average hourly rate of $36.57, while more experienced dental hygienists made an average of $42.96 per hour. Alberta is a promising place for the profession right now, and those willing to move to less populated areas of the country might also have better luck in finding a job.

Outlook: Employment and Social Development Canada categorizes “dental hygienist” as a “technical occupation in health care,” and measures the employment outlook for this job alongside dental technologists, lab bench workers, denturists and dental therapists. Employment in this category decreased between 2008 and 2010, but fortunately the number of job seekers and job openings is expected to be even into 2020.

What it’s Like: The daily work of a dental hygienist is never boring, says Simone d’Entremont, a registered DH who works in an orthodontic practice in Yarmouth, N.S. From assisting with braces and dentures, to cleanings and cavity detection, “every new client that comes in is someone totally different with different needs,” she says. One of the biggest misconceptions about dental hygienists, adds d’Entremont, is that they are simply there to act as assistants for dentists. Certainly, dentists need to confirm the diagnosis of cavities and other issues and play an integral role in the health of their patients, but they are helped greatly by the 30 or 45 minutes that a dental hygienist spends assessing someone’s oral hygiene. “It’s more than just cleanings,” says d’Entremont. “It’s up to the hygienist to find [things] that can be really serious sometimes, if not treated.”

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11 comments on “Canada’s Best Jobs 2014: Dental Hygienist

  1. Rated high on the Suicide chart ..Looking in peoples mouths all day..

    • Better by far than looking in the other end :-)

  2. Being a hygienist is a great job! Since becoming a hygienist 9 yrs ago there has been a huge decline in positions & they have failed to mention that many new graduates aren’t able to find jobs. They also didn’t mention that yes there are few jobs that still pay well but there also has been a decline in salary. When they conduct these salary surveys they are in my opinion only getting a small group of Dental Hygienists participating. I think we need to start telling potential hygienists that they may find some difficulties finding jobs upon graduation, at least be honest so they don’t come out of school & think that they have it made.

  3. As a 25 year veteran hygienist, these figures are not a true picture of the current job situation! I work in the Durham region and currently earn less than I did when I first graduated both annually and hourly. Finding even part time hours are extremely difficult!! There are NO benefits (sick days, pension, professional development or even dental coverage), the hours have now extended into evenings and weekends, with frantic working conditions pressuring the hygienist to produce.
    I love my career when dealing one to one with clients however I find it extremely stressful to make ends meet.
    Currently, the only place to find work is in Alberta which an Ontario graduate cannot work.
    I would LOVE to see the actual percentage of hygienists that actually earn the “median” salary of $70K!!!!
    Anyone considering this profession please heed this information. It’s the Gods honest truth from someone in the trenches!

    • Amen…. This article is not accurate it is doctored by the stupid college of hygienist….. That’s y I became a technician way better

  4. “positive employment outlook.”? you’ve got to be kidding me! then later state “Employment in this category decreased between 2008 and 2010, but fortunately the number of job seekers and job openings is expected to be even into 2020.” which is understanding and I will explain why.
    I wanted to be a dental hygienist in 2010 and did my research. The job market is flooded because of private schools. There are 18 dental hygiene schools in Ontario, most are private (there was 28 schools). In B.C., University of Fraser Valley closed their program because of the decrease in employment.
    Job postings are mostly part-time or temp. The minimum starting wage in B.C. is $35. I have even seen lower advertised on craigslist.
    I agree with some of the other comments on here: “potential hygienists…may find some difficulties finding jobs upon graduation” and “I would LOVE to see the actual percentage of hygienists that actually earn the “median” salary of $70K!!!!”. I was also about to mention the article in Macleans, but Dana posted the link.

  5. Good morning to you,pls i want to work in Canada no-matter how hard and difficult the work may be , i ‘m very very ready to do the work .i’m from Nigerian .beside i’m an of-fan.HELP ME PLEASE.?

  6. Articles like this are what keep flooding the colleges with students who upon graduation will find out what the other graduates have found-there are few jobs and most of them are part-time or just fill-ins. Expect wages around $25/hr as well, at least in Ontario. And then you still have to pay back your tuitions of about $17,000/yr. There would be lots of jobs if the government health plans would cover oral health as well as the rest of the body.

  7. I’d love to know who wrote this article and where they got their information! I’ve been a hygienist for 8 years and my median salary is more like 40 000! And good luck finding a job in the first place!