Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Maine
Dental hygiene is a great career for young people to embark on, but it also makes a good option for a career change. There are training and education requirements, but accredited programs prepare students well to achieve licensing. In Maine, there are increasing opportunities for trained and licensed dental hygienists to find jobs in dental offices and to earn a good living with a competitive salary. (For information on dental assistant schools in Maine, see this page.)
Licensing Requirements in Maine
In Maine, licensing for dental hygienists is overseen by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation’s Board of Dental Practice. You will have to get a license through the Board before you can practice in the state. Requirements for licensing include completing an accredited education and training program, passing national and regional exams, and submitting an application with the required fee.
Accredited Dental Hygiene Programs
The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accredits dental hygiene programs, and you must complete one of these in order to qualify for licensing in Maine. There are just two programs approved by CODA in the state:
- University of New England, Westbrook College of Health Professions, Portland. Located in the state’s largest city, Westbrook College offers a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Students take both general education and liberal arts courses as well as dental classes. In the third and fourth years of the program, students work hands-on with patients at the school’s clinic. During this work experience, you will hone your skills with real patients, take X-rays and, if you choose, learn to administer anesthesia.
- University of Maine, Bangor. The University of Maine’s program is the only public dental hygiene curriculum in the state that is accredited. Tuition costs are lower here than at Westbrook. The three-year program culminates in an associate’s degree. Class sizes are limited to just 20 students, and there are hands-on, clinical work experiences for students to practice what they learn with real patients.
Dental Hygiene Licensing in Maine
To become a registered dental hygienist in Maine, you will need to first complete one of the CODA-accredited programs and then take the required examinations with passing scores. These include the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the North East Regional Board Examination. The latter includes a clinical skills test.
When applying for a license, the state requires an $80 fee, an additional registration fee, transcripts, national and regional test scores, CPR certification and a record of any criminal history. You will also have to pass a Maine jurisprudence test, which is included with the application.
In Maine, you can also become licensed as an independent hygienist, which means you can work independently, although you still must have a practice agreement with a licensed dentist. Requirements for this license include the registered dental hygienist license and verified clinical experience. Once licensed as any type of hygienist, you must renew every two years after completing 30 credit hours of continuing education in each renewal period.
Salaries and Career Outlook
Salaries are strong for dental hygienists because of the education, training and licensing that is required. In Maine in 2017, hygienists earned an average hourly salary of $30.01 and an average annual salary of $62,410. Some professionals earn more with experience and years on the job, by working in bigger dental offices or by having leadership responsibilities. Those earning the most in the state made$77,270 on average in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The overall career outlook for dental hygienists is positive. In Maine, growth in the field is expected to be nearly seven percent between 2016 and 2026.
Dental Hygiene Jobs in Maine
While growth in jobs for dental hygienists in Maine is a little slower than in other states, there is still positive growth and more positions available all the time. Most hygienists work in dental offices, and there are more opportunities where there are more people. The Portland, Lewiston and Bangor areas will have the most jobs, and you can contact the Maine Dental Hygienists’ Association for networking opportunities.
University of Maine at Augusta
46 University Dr, Augusta, Maine 04330-9410
The University of Maine at Augusta at Augusta offers a Bachelor program in Dental Hygiene. This private, not-for-profit college has approximately 4,990 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. Typical in-state tuition is approximately $7,500 per year. Tuition for out-of-state students is $16,740.
Portland-South Portland, ME
University of New England
11 Hills Beach Rd, Biddeford, Maine 04005-9599
The University of New England at Biddeford offers a Bachelor program in Dental Hygiene. This is a full, 4-year private college with 5,666 students, of which 47% are undergraduates. Tuition fees at the college are approximately $33,145 per year, while the fees for students from other states are $33,145.