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.

State Requirements

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.

Well-known College Programs

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.

Licensing

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.

Popular Programs

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Growth in jobs for dental hygienists is generally strong, with about 20 percent growth on average across all states. In Kentucky, that growth is a little less vigorous but still positive at 12 percent. This is faster than average job growth. There are expected to be a few hundred new jobs for licensed hygienists in the state between 2016 and 2026.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienists earned $28.60 per hour and $59,500 on average in Kentucky in 2017. 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 $76,100 per year in 2017.

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Bowling Green, KY70$27.37$56,940
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN1,900$33.98$70,670
Clarksville, TN-KY170$31.29$65,090
Evansville, IN-KY**$33.05$68,750
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH200$25.52$53,090
Lexington-Fayette, KY330$26.28$54,670
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN730$31.37$65,260
Owensboro, KY110$25.80$53,660

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.

College Listings

East Kentucky nonmetropolitan area

Big Sandy Community and Technical College

One Bert Combs Dr, Prestonsburg, Kentucky 41653
(606) 886-3863 x0
https://bigsandy.kctcs.edu/education-training/program-finder/dental-hygiene.aspx

The Associate’s program at Big Sandy Community and Technical College is taught at their Prestonsburg campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. The college has around 5,151 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition is approximately $3,456 per year. Fees for students from other states are $12,096.

Lexington-Fayette, KY

Bluegrass Community and Technical College

470 Cooper Drive, Lexington, Kentucky 40506
(859) 246-6200
https://bluegrass.kctcs.edu/education-training/program-finder/dental-hygiene.aspx

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Lexington campus. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. The college has about 13,218 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. In-state tuition is approximately $3,516 per year. The fees for students from outside Kentucky are $12,156.

Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

University of Louisville

2301 S 3rd St, Louisville, Kentucky 40292-0001
(502) 852-5555
https://catalog.louisville.edu/undergraduate/majors/dental-hygiene-bs/

The University of Louisville at Louisville offers an ADA accredited Bachelor program in Dental Hygiene. This program of study is ADA accredited. This is a full, 4-year private college with 21,239 students, of which 74% are undergraduates. In-state tuition fees are approximately $9,946 per year, while tuition for out-of-state students is $23,834.

Bowling Green, KY

Western Kentucky University

1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101-1000
(270) 745-0111
https://www.wku.edu/dentalhygiene/

The Bachelor’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Bowling Green campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. This is a full, 4-year private college with 21,110 students, of which 86% are undergraduates. In-state tuition is approximately $8,722 per year. Fees for out-of-state students are $22,248.

Western Kentucky University

1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101-1000
(270) 745-0111
https://www.wku.edu/dentalhygiene/

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Bowling Green campus. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. This is a full, 4-year private college with 21,110 students, of which 86% are undergraduates. In-state tuition fees are approximately $8,722 per year. The fees for students from outside the state of Kentucky are $22,248.

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