Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Indiana

Dental Hygienists are highly trained professionals who are paid well to perform tasks such as teeth cleaning, x-rays, preventative tooth care and advising patients on oral and dental care. The dental hygiene career is on the rise, and with a national median annual income of $77,090 and a projected 6 percent rise in employment, Indiana health students may want to consider entering the career of dental hygiene. After two years of training and passing a few challenging tests, dental hygienists in Indiana can be on their way to becoming licensed by the state and practicing on a professional basis.

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Requirements for Dental Hygienist in Indiana

Generally, a dental hygienist needs to study two years in a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), then pursue licensure by taking multiple exams. Because of the college requirement, those who wish to become dental hygienists should first have their high school diploma or GED. Because many academic programs have course prerequisites, applicants with strong biology, health and science courses on their transcripts will have an advantage.

Dental Hygiene Programs in Indiana

There are excellent CODA-accredited dental hygiene programs all over Indiana. The dental hygienist schools in Indiana offering these programs include:

  • Ivy Tech Community College. This school’s dental hygiene program is accredited by the ADA – CODA, meaning graduates will be eligible to take the national exam. The Ivy tech Community college locations that offer the program are located in Anderson and South Bend. The Ivy tech community college website does not specify any prerequisites for the program at this time.
  • University of Southern Indiana. Located in Evansville, this school’s dental hygiene program is selective, which comes with stricter prerequisites. Applicants must have completed coursework in sociology, math, microbiology, chemistry and other post-secondary topics before they will be considered for the dental hygiene program.

Online Program

There are currently no accredited dental hygiene programs in Indiana that can be completed entirely online. However, there are a few schools that offer hybrid programs, which combine online coursework with on-campus lab and clinical components.

The following schools offer hybrid dental hygiene programs in Indiana:

Ivy Tech Community College: Located in Indianapolis, this school offers an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program that can be completed mostly online, with only on-campus lab and clinic components.

Purdue University Global: This online university offers a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree completion program that is designed for working dental hygienists who have already completed an associate’s degree at a CODA-accredited school.

The following schools offer traditional, on-campus dental hygiene programs in Indiana:

Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI): This school offers a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program.

Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington: This school offers an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program.

Vincennes University: This school offers an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program.

Wabash Valley College: Located in Mount Carmel, this school offers an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene degree program.

Dental Accreditation

In order to become licensed in Indiana, dental hygienists must graduate from an accredited program and pass both a written and clinical exam. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is responsible for accrediting programs in the United States, and there are several CODA-accredited dental hygiene programs in Indiana.

Licensing Exam

After completing an accredited dental hygiene program, individuals must pass both a written and clinical exam in order to be licensed in Indiana. The written exam is administered by the American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE), and the clinical exam is administered by the state of Indiana.

The JCNDE offers three different exams for dental hygienists: the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE), the Dental Hygiene National Board Exam (DHNBE) and the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE).

The NBDHE is the most common exam taken by dental hygiene students, as it is required by most states for licensure. The DHNBE is a newer exam that is not yet required by all states, but may be accepted in lieu of the NBDHE in some instances. The SBTPE is an exam created by individual state boards and is only accepted in that state.

The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency’s Board of Dentistry administers the clinical examination for licensure. This examination is administered by appointment only, and interested individuals must contact the Board to schedule a time.

Continuing Education

All licensed dental hygienists in Indiana must complete continuing education (CE) requirements in order to renew their license. The CE requirements for dental hygienists in Indiana are as follows:

o Complete at least 20 hours of CE every two years

o At least 12 of the 20 hours must be earned through live, interactive courses

o Up to 8 of the 20 hours may be earned through non-live courses, such as online courses or self-study

CE courses must be approved by either the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency’s Board of Dentistry or the American Dental Association’s Commission on Continuing

Licensure to Become a Dental Hygienist in Indiana

Licensure for dental hygienists in Indiana is managed by the Indiana State Board of Dentistry (ISBD). The ISBD requires that dental hygienists:

  • First complete an associate’s degree at a CODA-accredited school
  • Pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (NBDHE) administered by the American Dental Association (ADA)
  • Successfully complete an approved clinical regional examination
  • Pass an Indiana jurisprudence test, covering subjects such as dental hygiene laws, Indiana health codes, etc.
  • Pass a criminal background check

A dental hygienist who has completed these tasks can be licensed to practice in the state of Indiana.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dental hygienists is expected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

The demand for dental services will continue to increase as the population ages and as research continues to link oral health to overall health. Dentists will need to hire more dental hygienists to clean teeth and provide preventive dental care to patients.

Dental Hygienists Salary in Indiana

In 2020, 4,990 Indiana dental hygienists were employed in this high-paying career field throughout Indiana. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that they earned a mean hourly income of $35.36. Employment rates in the state are expected to increase even more over the years, with an estimated 11 percent increase by 2028.

In 2017, Indianapolis was the city with the most employed dental hygienists. With 1,660 dental hygienists working that year, Indianapolis made up a little less than a fourth of the entire state’s dental hygienists. With Indiana’s high projected increase of 11 percent in employment of dental hygienists, anyone would be wise to consider this field. If you can complete the training and pass the exams, you are set on a career path that promises to continue offering jobs and a strong income for years to come.

In Indiana, the average annual salary for dental hygienists was $68,490 in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The following table shows the cities in Indiana with the highest concentration of jobs and locations with the highest wages for dental hygienists:

Highest Concentration of Jobs

1. Gary- Hammond- East Chicago, IN Metropolitan Division – 1,920 jobs (5.91 per 1,000 jobs)

2. South Bend- Mishawaka, IN- MI Metropolitan Statistical Area – 1,470 jobs (4.51 per 1,000 jobs)

3. Lafayette- West Lafayette, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area – 940 jobs (3.31 per 1,000 jobs)

4. Kokomo, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area – 740 jobs (3.11 per 1,000 jobs)

5. Elkhart- Goshen, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area – 720 jobs (2.61 per 1,000 jobs)

Highest Wages

1. Gary- Hammond- East Chicago, IN Metropolitan Division – $78,880 annual mean wage ($37.87 hourly mean wage)

2. South Bend- Mishawaka, IN- MI Metropolitan Statistical Area – $70,540 annual mean wage ($33.93 hourly mean wage)

3. Lafayette- West Lafayette, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area – $69,430 annual mean wage ($33.26 hourly mean wage)

4. Elkhart- Goshen, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area – $68,980 annual mean wage ($32.98 hourly mean wage)

5. Kokomo, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area – $65,210 annual mean wage ($31.42 hourly mean wage)

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Bloomington, IN60$31.80$66,150
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI6,320$36.77$76,490
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN1,900$33.98$70,670
Elkhart-Goshen, IN200$30.10$62,600
Evansville, IN-KY**$33.05$68,750
Fort Wayne, IN350$28.79$59,880
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN1,670$33.31$69,280
Kokomo, IN130$33.21$69,070
Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN100$31.98$66,510
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN730$31.37$65,260
Michigan City-La Porte, IN100$29.20$60,740
Muncie, IN110$33.20$69,070
South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI340$32.42$67,420
Terre Haute, IN**$32.68$67,980

Working as a Dental Hygienist in Indiana

There are many great reasons to become a dental hygienist in Indiana! The job outlook is strong, and the salary is good. Plus, you can work in a variety of settings, including private dental offices, clinics, hospitals, and public health organizations. And, you can choose to work part-time or full-time. If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, there are many options for programs in Indiana. You can choose from traditional on-campus programs, online programs, or hybrid programs that combine online and on-campus coursework. Whichever type of program you choose, you’ll be on your way to a rewarding career as a dental hygienist!

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