Become a Dental Hygienist in California

The great state of California offers great opportunities for tomorrow’s dental hygienists. [Seguir leyendo en español]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 23.4% growth in employment for dental hygienists in the 10 years to 2022. This means you can expect over 1,000 job openings for dental hygienists in each of the coming years, when new jobs and job replacements are taken together. (To find out about dental assistant schools, state requirements, salaries and job outlook, visit this page.)

Requirements

The licensure requirements for Dental Hygienists in California are the strictest nationwide. To become a Registered Dental Hygienist, you must pass both clinical and written examinations in ethics and state dental law, and undergo a criminal history investigation. In order to apply for the exam, you must have completed an American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accredition-accredited dental hygiene program. Details of such programs are found below. Acceptable clinical examinations are provided by Central Regional Testing Services (CRDTS) and the Western Regional Examination Board (WREB)

Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP)

What is an RDHAP? A Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice [RDHAP] is a licensed registered dental hygienist with training that holds a specific license to allow the hygienist to practice in settings other than the traditional dental office. These practice settings may include schools, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, private homes and in some instances their own RDHAP offices.

The state of California also offers the possibility of becoming a Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP). This title requires licensure as an RDH, a Bachelor’s degree and the completion of an RDHAP program. The first and most widely-recognized RDHAP program is the 150-hour program at West Los Angeles College.

Popular Programs

 

Dental Hygienist Salaries by Area

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dental Hygienists in the state of California earned an average of $96,640 annually or $45.50 per hour in 2016. Around a third of dental hygienist jobs in California are found in the Los Angeles – Long Beach- Anaheim area. Just under three thousand are found in the Bay Area. Southern California offers 55% of all jobs and Northern California, 45%. The average salary for dental hygienists in Los Angeles is $95,410. This is above the state and Southern California average, but below average salaries in Northern California and cities such as San Francisco.

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA260$43.28$90,020
Chico, CA250$45.52$94,680
Fresno, CA220$42.63$88,670
Hanford-Corcoran, CA**$39.74$82,660
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA6,980$45.16$93,940
Madera, CA40$35.44$73,710
Modesto, CA390$40.19$83,590
Napa, CA150$47.66$99,140
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA590$49.36$102,660
Redding, CA90$43.57$90,620
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA1,490$44.18$91,900
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA1,810$44.95$93,490
Salinas, CA200$44.92$93,430
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA2,160$41.98$87,330
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA3,160$49.83$103,650
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,320$46.82$97,380
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA210$42.72$88,850
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA280$47.47$98,740
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA290$48.38$100,630
Santa Rosa, CA290$43.08$89,610
Stockton-Lodi, CA250$48.05$99,950
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA200$46.97$97,700
Visalia-Porterville, CA240$35.96$74,790
Yuba City, CA50$44.48$92,510

Well-known Schools

The US Department of Education informs that there are 28 schools in the state offering education in this field. Many of the best dental hygiene schools in California can be found among the state’s strong collection of community colleges. They offer quality training with affordable tuition. You can compare college reviews on sites like Niche.com and Cappex.com. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a full list of colleges.

Los Angeles Area

Cerritos College in Norwalk is a comprehensive community college serving an area of 52 square miles of southeastern Los Angeles county. Completion of the two-year program leads to an Associate in Arts Degree in Dental Hygiene. The program begins in the fall semester (August) of each year. Prerequisites include a minimum “C” grade in English, Mathematics and Reading and a valid CPR certification.

West Los Angeles College occupies 70 acres overlooking Culver City, Marina Del Rey and Greater West Los Angeles. As of 2016, it has begun offering a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Previously West LA College offered an AS degree. The prerequisites for this program include either all IGETC General Education Plan Courses or CSU General Education Plan Courses. The course plan must include various specified courses Anatomy, Physiology English and Math. All courses must be passed with a grade “C” or better.

Cypress College is a community college in Cypress, CA, just west of Anaheim and east of Long Beach. The College is about 25 miles south of Los Angeles (about 35 minutes without traffic). Prerequisites for their Dental Hygiene program include a minimum GPA of 2.5 in all college work attempted, a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all science prerequisites and a minimum GPA of 2.5 for all course prerequisites. On successful completion of the program students are awarded an Associate of Science degree. Further south, in Contra Mesa, is Orange Coast College which does not offer a dental hygiene program but does offer an accredited dental assisting program.

Pasadena City College offers a two-year Associate in Science degree in Pasadena, about 10 minutes north of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley. The program is CODA-accredited. To apply you must be able to communicate safely, accurately, and effectively in both written and spoken English, have a minimum grade “C” and GPA of 3.0 in prerequisite courses.

The University of Southern California’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry has a distinguished faculty and offers the most advanced dental hygiene education in the State. Students at USC have access to a Bachelor of Science degree program, a Master of Science degree program or a six-year “DH/DDS Pathway” option, which on completion awards a BS in Dental Hygiene and a Doctor of Dental Science degree.

The Department of Education reports no dental hygiene schools in the San Fernando Valley. The nearest options are West LA College, USC and Pasadena City College.

Bay Area

Chabot College in Hayward, in the Bay Area of Northern California is a community college with CODA accreditation and a strong track record in its dental hygiene program. The program is now in its tenth year with 100% of the students passing the National Dental Hygiene Board Exam. Students benefit from the fact that the college runs its own dental hygiene clinic where they can get hands-on experience. Program prerequisites include a minimum grade “C” in both Science and General Education courses taken, and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Science prerequisite courses include Anatomy, Chemistry, Microbiology and Physiology.

Diablo Valley College is one of three publicly supported two-year community colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District. The Dental Hygiene program is offered at the College’s Pleasant Hills Campus in the East Bay Area. Entrance into the program is highly competitive. Most selected applicants maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their prerequisite courses and 2.8 in their Associate in Arts, or Associate in Science degree courses.

Foothill College is found in Los Altos Hills in the South Bay Area. Its main building has won awards for its architectural design. Its dental hygiene program has been in existence for over 50 years. In its current form, it offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene (BS-DH) on completion, and is one of only 15 community colleges in the state to do so.

Other schools in Southern California

Loma Linda University is a private, non-profit university affiliated to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene at its campus in Palm Desert, Southern California.
West Coast University is a private, for-profit university offering a 3-year accelerated Bachelor’s degree program at its Orange County campus in Anaheim.

Other Schools in Northern California

Cabrillo College offers a very popular dental hygiene program at its campus in Aptos, by Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz County. The college is located about 37 miles from San Jose and 75 miles from San Francisco. The program is affiliated with the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco and awards an AS degree in dental hygiene. The current wait list is between 1 and 2 years. Program prerequisites include a GPA of 2.7 in Science subjects and a minimum grade “C” in all general education courses. The college also offers postgraduate studies in the form of an Expanded Duties Course (local anesthesia, nitrous oxide, soft tissue curettage), a Sealant course and continuing education in Oral Pathology.

Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

Cabrillo College

6500 Soquel Dr, Aptos, California 95003
(831) 479-6100
http://www.cabrillo.edu/academics/dentalhygiene/

The Associate’s program at Cabrillo College is taught at their Aptos campus. This program of study is ADA accredited. The majority of the school’s 13,559 students are on 2-year programs. In-state tuition fees are approximately $1,358 per year. Fees for students from other states are $5,698.

Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA

Carrington College California-Sacramento

8909 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, California 95826
(916) 361-1660
http://carrington.edu/degrees/dental-hygiene/

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Sacramento campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. The college has around 1,392 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The dental hygiene program has annual tuition fees of $19,429 and material costs of $559. The average completion time for the program is 10 months.

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Carrington College California-San Jose

6201 San Ignacio Ave., San Jose, California 95119
(408) 960-0162
http://carrington.edu/degrees/dental-hygiene/

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s San Jose campus. This program of study is ADA accredited. Most of the school’s 646 students are on 2-year programs. The dental hygiene program has annual tuition fees of $55,194 and material costs of $4,644. The average completion time for the program is 19 months.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Cerritos College

11110 Alondra Blvd, Norwalk, California 90650-6298
(562) 860-2451
http://cms.cerritos.edu/dental-hygiene/dental-hygiene-program.htm

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Norwalk campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. The college has about 20,719 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition fees are approximately $1,346 per year. The fees for out-of-state students are $7,114.

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

Chabot College

25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, California 94545
(510) 723-6600
http://www.chabotcollege.edu/dhyg/

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Hayward campus. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. Most of the school’s 13,112 students are on 2-year programs. In-state tuition is approximately $1,138 per year, while the fees for students from other states are $6,970.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Concorde Career College-Garden Grove

12951 Euclid Street, Suite 101, Garden Grove, California 92840-9201
(714) 703-1900
http://www.concorde.edu/program/dental-hygiene

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Garden Grove campus. Most of the school’s 1,006 students are on 2-year programs. Annual tuition fees for the dental hygiene program are $16,517 and books and supplies costs of $1,417. The average completion time for the program is 9 months.

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Concorde Career College-San Bernardino

201 East Airport Drive, Suite A, San Bernardino, California 92408-3403
(909) 884-8891
http://www.concorde.edu/program/dental-hygiene

The Associate’s program at Concorde Career College is taught at their San Bernardino campus. This private, not-for-profit college has about 911 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Annual fees for the dental hygiene program are $17,115 and books and supplies costs of $1,460. On average the program takes 9 months to complete.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Cypress College

9200 Valley View, Cypress, California 90630-5897
(714) 484-7000
http://www.cypresscollege.edu/academics/academicPrograms/HealthScience/DentalHygiene

The Certificate program at Cypress College is offered at their campus in Cypress in Orange County. The program is accredited by the American Dental Association. The college has about 15,144 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition is approximately $1,136 per year, while tuition for out-of-state students is $6,152.

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

Diablo Valley College

321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, California 94523
(925) 685-1230
http://www.dvc.edu/academics/bhsd/hygiene/

The Certificate program at Diablo Valley College is taught at their Pleasant Hill campus. The program is ADA accredited. The majority of the school’s 20,329 students are on 2-year programs. In-state tuition fees are approximately $1,298 per year. Tuition for students from outside the state of California is $7,038.

Diablo Valley College

321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, California 94523
(925) 685-1230
http://www.dvc.edu/academics/bhsd/hygiene/

The Associate’s program at Diablo Valley College is offered at their campus in Pleasant Hill in Contra Costa County. This program of study is ADA accredited. The majority of the school’s 20,329 students are on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition fees are approximately $1,298 per year. The fees for out-of-state students are $7,038.

Fresno, CA

Fresno City College

1101 E. University Ave, Fresno, California 93741
(559) 442-4600
http://www.fresnocitycollege.edu/index.aspx?page=673

The Associate’s program at Fresno City College is taught at their Fresno campus. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. The majority of the school’s 21,630 students are on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition fees are approximately $1,142 per year, while out-of-state students will pay $6,782.

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Loma Linda University

11139 Anderson Street, Loma Linda, California 92350
(909) 558-1000
http://www.llu.edu/dentistry/admissions/hygiene-off-campus.page

The Associate’s program at Loma Linda University is offered at their campus in Loma Linda in San Bernardino County. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. This is a full, 4-year private college with 4,612 students, of which 27% are undergraduates.

Loma Linda University

11139 Anderson Street, Loma Linda, California 92350
(909) 558-1000
http://www.llu.edu/dentistry/admissions/hygiene.page

The Bachelor program at Loma Linda University is taught at their Loma Linda campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. Of the 4,612 students, about 73% are postgraduates.

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