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.)
Requirements for Dental Hygienist 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.
Dental Hygiene Programs in Maine
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.
Maine Dental Hygiene License
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.
Dental Hygienist Salary in Maine
Salaries are strong for dental hygienists because of the education, training, and licensing that is required. In Maine in 2020, hygienists earned an average hourly salary of $32.76 and an average annual salary of $68,140. 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 $81,910 on average in 2020, 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 5 percent between 2018 and 2028.
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.
What are Dental Hygienist Salaries in Maine?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Maine’s average annual salary for dental hygienists is $68,110. Indeed.com lists an hourly rate of $34.87 for dental hygienists.
How Do I Become a Dental Hygienist in Maine?
Dental hygienists typically attend a two-year training program and attain an associate’s degree. Dental hygienists need to be licensed in the state. For more information on licensing, contact the Maine Board of Dental Practice.