Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Washington D.C.

Dental hygienists are trained, licensed professionals who work with dentists and patients. They do teeth cleanings at regular check-ups, educate patients about oral health and good hygiene practices, provide preventative care, take X-rays and so much more. If you are interested in a healthcare career that is meaningful and involves working with people every day, consider studying to become a licensed, Washington D.C. dental hygienist. (For information dental assistant schools in DC, see this page.)

What You Need to Become a Dental Hygienist in Washington D.C.

Each state has its own licensing requirements for dental hygienists, and in Washington D.C. you must be licensed through the D.C. Board of Dentistry. When you have met all of the Board’s requirements, you must submit an application that includes proof that those requirements have been fulfilled, passport photographs, identification and fees. Requirements include completing a dental hygiene program and passing Board exams.

Dental Hygienist Schools in Washington D.C.

The first step in meeting D.C.’s requirements for dental hygiene licensing is to complete a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Schools that are CODA-accredited typically offer two-year degrees. D.C. has just one such program, but there are also approved programs nearby in Virginia and Maryland.

  • Howard University College of Dentistry, Washington D.C. The dental hygiene program at Howard offers students flexibility. It includes evening and daytime courses and the ability to complete it on a part-time or full-time basis. Full-time the program takes two years to complete and prepares students to pass the necessary exams for D.C. licensure.
  • Howard Community College, Columbia, Maryland. Not far outside D.C., Howard Community College offers an associate’s degree program in dental hygiene. Students who complete it will have the skills and knowledge needed to seek licensing in Washington D.C.
  • Northern Virginia Community College, Springfield, Virginia. Also not too far from the city is Northern Virginia’s program for an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. In order to be considered for admissions you must complete an online information session and provide the code from the session as proof of completion.

Washington D.C. Licensure

Once you have successfully completed a CODA-accredited program in dental hygiene, you will be ready to meet the other requirements for licensing in D.C. Any accredited program will prepare you to pass the necessary exams, which include the National Board of Dental Hygiene Examination and the Northeast Regional Board Examination. You will also need to pass the District of Columbia Dental Law Examination. If you did not complete a program in D.C., you may need to take steps to study the law on your own before taking this test.

With all requirements met, you can submit your application to the Board of Dentistry with an $85 application fee. You will also need to pay a licensing fee of $134. To keep your license up-to-date in D.C., you will need to complete 15 credit hours of continuing education courses every two years and apply for renewal with proof of those courses.

Salaries and Career Growth

Careers in dental hygiene are growing throughout the country. In Washington D.C., the growth expected between 2016 and 2026 is nearly 20 percent. This means there is high demand for qualified, licensed professionals and that finding a job should not be difficult. There will be nearly 100 new jobs for hygienists created in the city in the coming years.

The salaries for dental hygienists have also grown strongly in Washington D.C. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2017 these professionals in the city earned an average of $38.62 per hour. Annually, they made $80,340 on average. The top earners in this field made over $132,000 in 2017.

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Working as a Dental Hygienist

Most dental hygienists in Washington D.C. and elsewhere work for dentists in dental offices. Other options may include hospitals, dental schools like the school at Howard University, and community dental clinics.

Finding a job in the city should not be difficult, as demand is high. You may also choose to get licensed in Virginia or Maryland and to seek work in suburbs such as Arlington and Alexandria in Virginia and Bethesda and Silver Spring in Maryland.

College Listings

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Howard University

2400 Sixth St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20059-0001
(202) 806-6100
http://healthsciences.howard.edu/education/colleges/dentistry/departments/dental-hygiene

The UndergraduateCertificate program at Howard University is taught at their Washington campus. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. Of the 10,002 students, about 33% are postgraduates. Tuition fees at the college are about $22,683 per year, while fees for out-of-state students are $22,683.

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