Becoming a dental hygienist isn’t actually as complicated as you might think. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to attend a four year university in order to become a dental hygienist. That is just one of many options that are available in dental hygienist programs. What are your options then? Well, let’s take a look at the various dental hygienist programs that are at your fingertips.
Dental Hygiene Certificate
This is the simplest method of getting started on your path to a career in dental hygiene. Generally speaking, a certificate will take anywhere from a year to two years, and will educate you in the core requirements for dental hygienists.
You can also attend a college – whether it’s a state university or even a community college will depend upon your area’s offerings – in order to obtain your associate’s degree. The difference between two years for your associate’s or a year or two for your certificate is mainly the cost, though if you’re going to attend school for two years, it may be more worth it in the end to come out with your associate’s rather than a simple certificate.
There are four year dental hygiene programs that are available for those wanting their bachelor’s degree. In this dental hygienist program, you will have to go through general education prerequisite classes in addition to your core major classes, but obtaining your bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene can actually set you up for more career flexibility in the future.
A master’s degree is also available when you are researching dental hygienist programs. A prerequisite to your master’s is, of course, that you obtain your bachelor’s degree. The higher degrees are generally for those who would like to work more in the research field rather than in a dentist’s office.
No matter what dental hygienist program you take advantage of, keep in mind that you’ll have to be state certified prior to actually being able to practice dental hygiene wherever you are. The certification testing will be made up of two parts – a written examination and a clinical exam.
If you move from one state to another after you’ve begun your practice, keep in mind that you may have to renew your certification according to your new state’s particular laws and guidelines.
Even if you do not quite have the funding to attend college at this point in time and are only financially able to pursue a certificate, do not let this discourage you while researching dental hygienist programs. There are plenty of opportunities to continue your education and a wide variety of online schooling options that are available. You can always begin with your certificate and progress onward and upward through higher education. It may even prove to be that much more beneficial to you in the long run, as you will have hands-on experience in the meantime to supplement your education.
No matter what your education level or your financial abilities at this present point in time, there are dental hygienist programs available for you to take charge of your career and change your life!