Become a Dental Hygienist in Pennsylvania

With expanding demand in healthcare jobs and the increasing importance of the dental hygienist in dental offices across the US, now is a great moment to embark on a new career in this field. [Seguir leyendo en español]

There are 9,650 people employed as dental hygienists in the Pennsylvania and this total is expected to grow by almost 8% in the ten years to 2024. Between employment growth and job replacements the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis predicts around 221 annual job openings.

(Find out how to become a dental assistant in Pennsylvania.)

Requirements

To become a dental hygienist in Pennsylvania, you must have graduated from a dentistry program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Dental Association, have passed the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, hold a current CPR Certification and have completed one of the following regional board clinical examinations: NERB, CRDTS, WREB, SRTA, or CITA.

There are further permit requirements for dental hygienists wishing to practice Local Anesthesia and for those wishing to be certified as Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioners.

Popular Programs

Dental Hygienist Salaries by Area

The average salary for Dental Hygienists in Pennsylvania in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $64,360, or $30.94 per hour. Most jobs are found in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington area, while salaries tend to be higher here too. Salaries in the north and west of the state tend to be lower. Salaries in Pittsburgh may be as much as 18% lower than in Philadelphia, although the cost of living is also significantly lower.

AreaTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ770$32.69$68,000
Altoona, PA70$28.48$59,230
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA40$27.84$57,900
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA100$33.56$69,800
East Stroudsburg, PA90$30.02$62,430
Erie, PA260$27.74$57,700
Gettysburg, PA50$30.25$62,920
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA450$29.51$61,370
Johnstown, PA70$24.41$50,780
Lancaster, PA500$34.10$70,930
Lebanon, PA70$29.16$60,660
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA10,640$41.36$86,020
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD4,400$35.02$72,840
Pittsburgh, PA2,130$27.76$57,740
Reading, PA300$34.48$71,710
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA380$24.80$51,580
State College, PA110$29.52$61,410
Williamsport, PA60$31.51$65,530
York-Hanover, PA330$31.66$65,860
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA320$27.86$57,950

Applying for college

All colleges will require that you have a high school diploma or GED equivalency. You will also be required to have a current CPR certificate.

For any college you wish to apply to review the application prerequisites. Ask about financial aid, the program’s current accreditation status, tuition, fees and other costs.

Some college’s, such as Pitt require you to provide answers to a written interview. Be prepared to answer questions such as the following:

  1. If Dental Hygiene was not an option for you what other career path would you have chosen?
  2. Tell me in detail about your overall academic performance.
  3. Do you learn better in a small group setting, a large group setting, or independently? Explain.
  4. How familiar are you with Dental Hygiene and the work that comes with it?
  5. After touring our school and speaking with some of our current students, what are you looking forward to the most?
  6. Why do you want to be a dental hygienist?
  7. What do you feel is the biggest issue facing dental hygienists today?
  8. How do you think the dental profession has changed over the last 25 years?
  9. What do you want the admissions committee to know about you thats not in your file?
  10. What hobbies do you have that require fine motor skills?

Well-known Schools

The best start you could give your career is most likely achieved by joining a program at US Department of Education-recognized college, of which there are 12 in the Pennsylvania. There is a full list of these schools at the bottom of this page. Most of these offer programs accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Before applying for any program, recommend you confirm current accreditation status, tuition fees and federal aid eligibility directly with the college. We also recommend that you search online for alumni reviews. There are also many excellent dental hygienist schools in New Jersey and Ohio.

Philadelphia

The CODA-accredited program at the Community College of Philadelphia’s Division of Math, Science and Health Careers can be completed in 24 months. Successful completion leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree. Prerequisites for enrollment in CCP’s program include a High School Certificate or GED, and minimum of one year of high school biology, chemistry and college preparatory math, all with a minimum “C” grade. CCP has a dental clinic open to the public, which allows students to gain experience working with real patients on campus.

Manor College in Jenkintown offers a full-time CODA-accredited program leading to an Associate of Science degree and accepts 14 students each year. Students also have the option of enrolling in abridged Expanded Functions Dental Assisting (EFDA) program or continuing their studies to gain a Bachelor’s degree in a related field such as dental hygiene education, pre-doctoral dental studies, public health or healthcare management.

Pittsburgh

The School of Dental Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh offers both an Associate of Science and a Bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. Both of Pitt’s programs are CODA-accredited. The former is a two-year, six term course of study and admits 36 students each fall. The Baccalaureate program is designed for those who have already completed a certificate or associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Prerequisites include a high school diploma or GED, SAT 1 combined score of at least 1200 on the critical reading and quantitative sections or 24 college credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, high school biology and chemistry at grade “B” or above and a minimum high school GPA of 3.0. Pitt also requires that you have spent 15 hours of job shadowing with a practicing dental hygienist. Tuition fees per academic year for the Dental Hygiene programs are $17,186 for in-state students and $28,690 for out-of-state students.

The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) no longer offers a dental hygienist program.

Other locations

Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport offers a CODA-accredited AAS degree in dental hygiene. The college has its own dental hygiene clinic where students can gain hands-on experience. On completion, the college offers a Bachelor’s degree program for students interested in further study: Dental Hygiene: Health Policy & Administration Concentration. The college also offers an online completion option.

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Community College of Philadelphia

1700 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130-3991
(215) 751-8000
https://www.ccp.edu/academic-offerings/all-offerings/dental-hygiene

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Philadelphia campus. This program of study is ADA accredited. The college has about 18,920 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Yearly fees for in-district students are $4,920, while fees for in-state and out-of-state students are $9,360 and $13,800 respectively.

Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA

Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg

1 HACC Dr., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110-2999
(717) 780-2300
http://www.hacc.edu/ProgramsandCourses/dental-hygiene-3416.cfm

The Associate’s program at Harrisburg Area Community College is taught at their Harrisburg campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. This private, not-for-profit college has approximately 21,945 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. Yearly tuition fees for in-district students are $5,295, while fees for in-state and out-of-state students are $7,200 and $10,365 respectively.

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Manor College

700 Fox Chase Rd, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania 19046-3399
(215) 885-2360
https://manor.edu/academics/associate-degrees/dental-hygiene/

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Jenkintown campus. This program of study is ADA accredited. This private, not-for-profit college has around 926 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. Fees at this college are around $15,250 per year. Tuition for out-of-state students is $15,250.

Montgomery County Community College

340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania 19422-0796
(215) 641-6300
https://www.mc3.edu/degrees-and-programs/programs/health/dental-hygiene

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Blue Bell campus. This program of study is accredited by the ADA. The majority of the school’s 13,645 students are on 2-year programs. Annual fees for in-district students are $4,590, while fees for in-state and out-of-state students are $8,640 and $12,690 respectively.

Williamsport, PA

Pennsylvania College of Technology

One College Ave, Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701-5799
(570) 326-3761
https://www.pct.edu/academics/nhs/dental-hygiene/dental-hygiene-associates

The Associate’s program at Pennsylvania College of Technology is offered at their campus in the city of Williamsport. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. Most of the school’s 5,671 students are on 4-year programs. In-state tuition fees are approximately $14,940 per year. Tuition for out-of-state students is $21,180.

Pennsylvania College of Technology

One College Ave, Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701-5799
(570) 326-3761
https://www.pct.edu/academics/nhs/dental-hygiene

The Bachelor program at Pennsylvania College of Technology is taught at their Williamsport campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. The majority of the school’s 5,671 students are on 4-year programs. In-state tuition is approximately $14,940 per year. The fees for out-of-state students are $21,180.

Pittsburgh, PA

University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
(412) 624-4141
https://www.dental.pitt.edu/dental-hygiene

The University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh offers an ADA accredited UndergraduateCertificate program in Dental Hygiene. This program of study is ADA accredited. This is a full, 4-year private college with 28,769 students, of which 64% are undergraduates. In-state tuition is approximately $17,100 per year. The fees for students from outside Pennsylvania are $27,106.

Westmoreland County Community College

145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood, Pennsylvania 15697-1895
(724) 925-4000
https://westmoreland.edu/academics/programs/dental-hygiene.html

The Associate’s degree program is imparted at the college’s Youngwood campus. This program of study is accredited by the American Dental Association. Most of the school’s 6,571 students are on 2-year programs. Annual fees for in-district students are $3,420, while fees for in-state and out-of-state students are $6,390 and $9,180 respectively.

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