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Becoming a Dental Hygienist in Utah

To work as a dental hygienist in Utah, you will need to be licensed through the state. The first step is to complete an accredited post-secondary program.

 A dental hygienist is a licensed oral health professional who promotes optimum oral health by providing education and therapeutic services to adults and children. 

The work it takes to become a hygienist is well worth the benefits you’ll get from this rewarding career. Employed by a dentist, you can expect to work with patients, doing cleanings, taking X-rays and providing education and preventative care.

Requirements for Dental Hygienists in Utah

Each state in the U.S. sets its own requirements for being licensed and working as a dental hygienist. The Utah Department of Commerce’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing is responsible for taking applications and awarding licenses for dental hygienists. You will have to have a completed degree from an accredited dental hygiene program as well as passing scores on national and state exams for your application to be accepted.

What Are the Prerequisites for Studying Dental Hygiene in Utah?

Six dental hygiene schools in Utah offer the accredited programs students need to become licensed in the state. With limited options, admissions are highly competitive. Know the prerequisites for each school you apply to for a better chance of admittance.

Prerequisites vary depending on the program. Some dental hygiene programs confer bachelor’s degrees, so expect to complete two years of study before entering the professional program. Schools with two-year degree programs might have fewer prerequisites, but you’ll still have to complete some courses before applying.

One example is the Utah Valley University Associate in Applied Science degree. Prerequisite coursework includes:

·        English

·        Chemistry

·        Human anatomy

·        Human physiology

·        Math

·        Public Speaking

·        Introduction to Sociology

·        General psychology

Applicants to this program must also pass a health science reasoning test, show proof of at least 20 hours of observation with a practicing dental hygienist, submit two letters of reference, and submit a two-page essay.

The Utah College of Dental Hygiene offers an accelerated bachelor’s degree, but you must first complete 33 credits of prerequisite courses. Other application requirements for the program include three references, 40 hours of job shadowing in a dental practice and an ACT or SAT score.

Some schools set a minimum GPA for prerequisite courses. The Utah College of Dental Hygiene, for example, requires that you have at least a 2.5. Keep in mind that admissions are very competitive, so it’s best to go above and beyond the minimum requirement. 

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Dental Hygienist Schools in Utah

The first step for many dental hygienist schools in Utah in the process of becoming a dental hygienist is to enroll in and complete an appropriate educational program. Utah requires that the dental hygiene program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Utah has several CODA-approved programs from which dental hygiene students can choose. Most of the dental hygiene programs are competitive because of demand, so be sure you meet all the entry requirements before applying. (See this page for information on dental assistant schools in Utah.)

  • Salt Lake Community College, West Jordan. Located just outside of Salt Lake City, the West Jordan campus offers students an associate’s degree program that takes two years to complete on a full-time schedule. Just 24 students are admitted to the program each fall. In addition to coursework, students complete a clinical experience and work in a community dental setting.
  • Utah College of Dental Hygiene, Orem. Located in the town of Orem, this college is exclusively dedicated to educating dental hygienists. There are education prerequisites, but they can be in progress at the time you apply to the program. Unlike most other programs, this one confers a bachelor’s degree. The curriculum is intensive and takes just 20 months to complete and earn the degree.
  • Utah Valley University, Orem. Also in Orem, Utah Valley University offers both an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. The second option is designed for students completing the two-year degree and can be done online. Students work in a community clinic to practice their skills, and nearly 100 percent of graduates go on to pass the Board exams for licensing.

Dental Hygienist Licensure in Utah

Before you can work as a dental hygienist in the state, you will have to become licensed. Earning a degree from a CODA-accredited dental hygiene program is the first requirement. When you apply with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, you will send your transcript as proof of completion.

You will also need to have your results for the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and for a regional clinical examination. The National Board Exam is a multiple choice test, while the clinical exams test your skills in a clinical setting. You may also choose to include anesthesia administration in your licensing, which requires passing an additional test.

Once your application has been approved, you will need to maintain it by renewing every two years. The state requires that dental hygienists complete 30 credit hours of continuing education for each renewal period. The Utah Dental Hygienists’ Association is a good resource for applicable courses.

Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice (RDHAP)

The Utah State Board of Vocational Education recognizes the need for dental hygienists to have additional training to work in alternative settings. These include public health departments, schools, long-term care facilities and other places where dental care may not be readily available.

Dental Hygienist Salary in Utah

Growth in jobs for dental hygienists is 6 percent across the U.S. In Utah, the growth is even stronger at more than 23 percent. There are expected to be about 400 new jobs added for qualified hygienists by 2028. There is great demand for licensed dental hygiene professionals, so finding a position in the state should not be difficult.

Because of the training and licensing required, and because of the high demand of dental hygienists, you can expect to earn a great salary as a dental hygienist. In 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental hygienist salary in Utah was an average of $72,240 annually. Top earners made more than $83,930 that same year.

Working as a Dental Hygienist in Utah

Dental hygiene work is people-oriented. You will be working directly with patients and dentists. It can be physically demanding, requiring you to be on your feet a lot and doing a lot of bending and twisting to reach tough spots.

You shouldn’t have a problem landing your first job as a dental hygienist in Utah. Anywhere there is a dental office, from rural areas to the big city, there are opportunities for dental hygienists. Of course, you can expect to have more options in large population centers, especially in and around Salt Lake City, Provo and Orem.

The Utah Department of Health operates a Dental Hygiene Clinic which provides Dental hygiene services. The clinic offers low-cost services to those who cannot afford or do not have access to regular dental care in order to promote good dental hygiene and oral health across the state.

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How Much Do Dental Hygienists Make in Utah?

Dental hygienists in Utah can earn an annual salary of $69,050, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs website Indeed.com lists an average hourly wage of $34.82 for Utah dental hygienists.

Related Links

How to Become a Dentist in Utah

Cursos de Higienista Dental en Utah