Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Kentucky
As a dental hygienist in Kentucky, you can expect to enjoy a rewarding career working with and helping people on a daily basis. Hygienists spend a lot of time with patients in dental offices, cleaning their teeth, educating them about good oral health and checking for any problems. If you’re interested in this career, you can also expect to have good job security and a steady salary. Growth in the industry is strong, and there are plenty of opportunities for qualified hygienists.
Requirements for Dental Hygienists in Kentucky
You do need to be licensed to work as a dental hygienist, but the licensing is done differently in every state. In Kentucky, it is the state’s Board of Dentistry that is responsible for setting standards and taking applications. Some of the requirements include completing an accredited educational program, passing clinical examinations and submitting an application fee.
Dental Hygienist Programs in KY
All states require that you complete a post-secondary program in dental hygiene before becoming licensed. In Kentucky, that program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). There are several such programs in the state, including the following:
- Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green. Only 28 students are admitted to study dental hygiene each year at Western Kentucky. Those students can choose to complete a two-year associate’s degree program or a four-year bachelor’s degree program with or without an emphasis on teaching. Tuition and other fees are estimated to be about $25,000 for the two-year program.
- University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Louisville. The School of Dentistry includes a four-year bachelor’s degree program in dental hygiene that is CODA-accredited. Students take a total of 120 credit hours of coursework. This includes a clinical rotation that serves as a culminating experience before graduating.
- Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Prestonburg. Big Sandy offers students an integrated program in dental assisting and dental hygiene, which provides even more opportunities for a career after graduation. The program is for an associate’s degree and takes two years to complete on a full-time schedule.
Click here for information on dental assistant schools in Kentucky.
Kentucky Dental Hygiene License
Once you have completed an accredited dental hygiene program, you will be ready to take the necessary exams and apply for licensure. New hygienists must submit an application and meet the following requirements:
- Have official transcripts from a CODA-accredited program
- Complete and pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination
- Complete and pass at least one clinical examination in three or fewer tries
- Pass Kentucky’s jurisprudence exam
- Be certified in CPR
- Have a clean background check from the FBI and the Kentucky State Police
Dental hygienists who have been licensed in another state must meet the above requirements and provide verification of that license within three months of submitting an application in Kentucky.
Dental Hygienist Salary in Kentucky
Growth in jobs for dental hygienists is generally strong, with about 6 percent growth on average across all states. In Kentucky, that growth is a little less vigorous but still positive at 1 percent. There are expected to be a few hundred new jobs for licensed hygienists in the state between 2018 and 2028.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists earned $29.71 per hour and $61,790 on average in Kentucky in 2020. There are opportunities to earn more with additional years of experience on the job, added duties in a dental office, or with specializations and certifications. In Kentucky, the top 10 percent of earners in the field made an average of $76,710 per year in 2020.
|Area||Total Employed||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
|Bowling Green, KY||70||$27.37||$56,940|
|Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN||730||$31.37||$65,260|
Working as a Dental Hygienist in Kentucky
When seeking a position as a dental hygienist in Kentucky, you are most likely to be hired in a dental office. Small, rural offices and large suburban and urban dental offices all need dental hygienists, so you can look for a job anywhere in the state. The greatest number of positions available is likely to be found in the bigger cities and suburbs in the state. These include Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and Owensboro and surrounding areas.
How Much Does a Dental Hygienist Make in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, the average annual salary for dental hygienists is $61,140, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Careers website Indeed.com reports an hourly wage of $31.68 for a Kentucky dental hygienist.