Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Massachusetts

Dental hygienists enjoy rewarding careers that allow them to work with their hands and help people feel their best. They typically perform tasks including cleaning teeth, applying bandages to sutures, operating equipment and otherwise helping dentists do their work. Dental hygienists in Massachusetts must be licensed as Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH) to practice in the state.

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Requirements for Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Massachusetts

To become a dental hygienist in Massachusetts, applicants must attend an accredited dental hygiene program, which typically lasts about two years. The school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) for students to be eligible to sit for the national dental hygiene exam. Prospective dental hygienists must pass this standardized licensure exam to begin working.

Dental Hygienist Programs in Massachusetts

Most programs for dental hygienists are two-year associate’s degree programs. These programs are widely available at community colleges and other technical schools, though only students attending CODA-accredited schools are eligible for the licensing exam. The following programs are available in Massachusetts:

  • Quinsigamond Community College. Students at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester put their learning into action at an on-campus dental hygiene clinic. Clinical rotations, during which students will work in off-campus dental offices to gain experience, may also be required for graduation.
  • Middlesex Community College. Lowell-based Middlesex Community College offers an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. The program includes clinical rotations and time working in the school’s on-campus dental clinic as well.

Licensing for Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Massachusetts

Dental hygienists must pass the National Board Examination as well as a state exam accredited by one of the following:

  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)
  • The Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. (CITA)
  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. (CRDTS)
  • The Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
  • The Western Regional Examining Board, Inc. (WREB)

Dental hygienists in Massachusetts must also take the CDCA Diagnostic Skills Exam to receive their licenses.

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Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Employment in the dental field is steadily increasing, with the field expected to grow by 5.9 percent in Massachusetts within the 10 years from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average annual salary of a dental hygienist in Massachusetts is $82,290.

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Barnstable Town, MA290$41.05$85,380
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH4,310$38.77$80,640
Leominster-Gardner, MA**$42.78$88,990
New Bedford, MA100$35.01$72,820
Pittsfield, MA90$35.19$73,190
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA1,230$36.42$75,760
Springfield, MA-CT630$38.39$79,860
Worcester, MA-CT690$39.72$82,620

Working as a Dental Hygienist in Massachusetts

Dental hygienists constantly interact with new people, helping them feel comfortable during dental appointments and educating them on dental health. They have the opportunity to enter the medical field without extensive training. Dental hygienists typically receive the highest salaries in larger cities, such as Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts, though work can be found in any town with a dental office.

College Listings

Barnstable Town, MA

Cape Cod Community College

2240 Iyannough Rd, West Barnstable, Massachusetts 02668-1599
(508) 362-2131
https://www.capecod.edu/web/dental

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s West Barnstable campus. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. This private, not-for-profit college has about 4,201 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition fees are approximately $4,088 per year. Fees for students from other states are $9,032.

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

MCPHS University

179 Longwood Ave, Boston, Massachusetts 02115-5896
(617) 732-2800
https://www.mcphs.edu/academics/school-of-dental-hygiene/dental-hygiene/dental-hygiene-ms

The Master program at MCPHS University is taught at their Boston campus. This program of study is ADA accredited. Of the 6,010 students, about 40% are postgraduates. Tuition fees at this school are about $28,470 per year. Fees for out-of-state students are $28,470.

MCPHS University

179 Longwood Ave, Boston, Massachusetts 02115-5896
(617) 732-2800
https://www.mcphs.edu/academics/school-of-dental-hygiene/dental-hygiene/dental-hygiene-bs-accelerated

The Bachelor’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Boston campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. This is a full, 4-year private college with 6,010 students, of which 60% are undergraduates. Fees at the college are about $28,470 per year. Tuition for out-of-state students is $28,470.

Middlesex Community College

Springs Rd, Bedford, Massachusetts 01730-9124
(978) 656-3200
http://catalog.middlesex.mass.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=4&poid=296&returnto=317

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Bedford campus. The college has around 9,664 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition is approximately $4,274 per year. Fees for out-of-state students are $9,208.

Regis College (formerly Mount Ida College Dental Hygiene Program)

235 Wellesley Street, Weston MA 02493
(781) 768-7000
https://www.regiscollege.edu/academics/majors-and-programs/dental-hygiene-and-bs

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Weston campus. This program of study is ADA accredited. Of the 1,389 students, about 2% are postgraduates. Tuition fees at the college are approximately $29,377 per year. Fees for out-of-state students are $29,377.

Worcester, MA-CT

Mount Wachusett Community College

444 Green St, Gardner, Massachusetts 01440-1000
(978) 632-6600
https://mwcc.edu/academics/degree/dental-hygiene/

The Associate’s program at Mount Wachusett Community College is taught at their Gardner campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. The college has approximately 4,731 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition is approximately $4,900 per year. Fees for students from other states are $9,820.

Springfield, MA

Springfield Technical Community College

1 Armory Sq, Springfield, Massachusetts 01105-1296
(413) 781-7822
http://catalog.stcc.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=1&poid=64&returnto=66

The Associate’s program at Springfield Technical Community College is offered at their campus in the city of Springfield. This program of study is ADA accredited. This private, not-for-profit college has about 7,011 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Typical in-state tuition fees are approximately $5,106 per year. The fees for students from outside the state of Massachusetts are $11,616.

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