Become a Dental Hygienist in Nebraska
With the field of dental hygiene predicted to grow 6 percent nationally by 2028, it’s never been a better time to pursue a job in the field. Dental hygienists in Nebraska focus on dental cleaning and oral health, unlike dentists, who focus on diagnosing and treating dental disease and perform dental repairs. These professionals are trained to efficiently clean teeth, perform dental x-rays and administer nitrous oxide, among other services. Usually, dental hygienists and dentists work together as a team to offer a full spectrum of care to patients. (For information on dental assistant schools in Nebraska see this page.)
Steps to Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Nebraska
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) states that in order to become licensed to practice dental hygiene, one must:
- Successfully complete at least an associate’s degree in dental hygiene at a school accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)
- Pass the written National Board Dental Hygiene Exam (NBDHE) and a Board-approved regional practical exam with scores of at least 75 percent
Score at least 75 percent on the Nebraska Jurisprudence exam, which measures the applicant’s knowledge on Nebraska dental laws and regulations
Dental Hygienist Schools in Nebraska
There are only two CODA-accredited schools in Nebraska:
- Central Community College (CCC). This school is located in Hastings, NE, and offers an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Students at this school train in a supervised clinic setting, where they are able to hone skills on real patients. To gain acceptance to the program, students must first be accepted to CCC and complete prerequisite courses in Health Studies, Psychology, Sociology and Composition.
- University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry. Located in Lincoln, this school offers a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. Two years of prerequisite courses must first be completed, and once accepted into the program, it takes two more years of study to complete the dental hygiene B.A. degree.
Dental Hygienist Licensing in Nebraska
After obtaining a basic Nebraska practice license, dental hygienists may wish to pursue licensing for additional functions such as dental restoration, prescription-writing of dental rinses and fluorides, and Public Health Authorization for treating children. These expanded scope functions can be achieved by completing associated required courses and applying for further credentials from the NDHHS.
Dental Hygienist Salary in Nebraska
With a mean income of $34.84 per hour, dental hygienists made more than three times the Nebraska minimum wage of $9 per hour in 2020. Besides earning a strong income, professionals in this field also have a positive career outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the job demand for these oral health professionals will increase by 12 percent by the year 2028.
What It’s Like to Work as a Dental Hygienist in Nebraska
Generally, cities with higher populations will have greater need for dental hygienists, as is the case in the state of Nebraska. In 2017, Omaha and Lincoln employed the highest number of dental hygienists, followed by the Northeast and Central Nebraska nonmetropolitan areas. However, the highest paid dental hygienists in the state that year were employed in the Southeast Nebraska nonmetropolitan area.
To gain valuable career insight and networking opportunities, dental hygienists may wish to join the Nebraska Dental Hygienists’ Association (NDHA), an offshoot of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. This is a network connecting thousands of oral health professionals across the state and country. Because the number of dental hygienists is ever-expanding throughout the U.S., maintaining membership in the NDHA can offer distinction to those who wish to gain leverage in the field.