Dental Connections and the Washington Dental Hygienists’ Association (WDHA) have partnered since 2008 to produce accurate, comprehensive, and current statistics about dental hygienist wages and benefits in dental offices. The answers to this survey are completely anonymous and reflect a large sample set of workers providing the most up to date and accurate statistics available anywhere. Dental Connections and the WDHA have zero influence over the respondent’s answers and do not use this information for profit.
Before reading the results, we want to point out some key observations and historical trends:
• This survey combines ALL types of hygienists: traditional, restorative, part time, full time, experienced, new grads, etc. Restorative RDHs make more than traditional RDHs. Full time workers receive better benefits than part time workers. Take this into account while analyzing the statistics.
• By most measures the greater Seattle area is in its 5th year of an extreme shortage of RDHs. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem due to large cohorts of workers not returning to their jobs yet and current workers seeking hazard pay compensation. This has driven wages up even more dramatically due to basic supply and demand principles.
• Historically, experienced professionals that have spent more time in a single practice are compensated higher for loyalty. This trend is changing because of the shortage. North King County currently has a $54/hour average, but recent job offers in 2019-2020 have been above that average due to the market factors discussed above.
• 18% of respondents are part time workers and this has a dramatic effect on the benefit statistics. The benefit percentages are lower as a result of the part time workers reporting lesser benefits.
Before determining whether an hourly rate is fair, consider all important factors: location, hygiene role performed, experience level, type of practice, and benefits (which can add approximately $5-$15/hour to the compensation package). Dental offices weigh these factors before making a job offer or negotiating a raise for existing staff.
When we counsel dental professionals about a compensation package the most overlooked portion is benefits. There is a tendency to only focus on the hourly wage and there is a lack of education about how much the employer is spending on benefits. Colleagues discuss how much they are making per hour because it seems the most relevant. It may not be as exciting to say “I get 3 weeks of paid vacation and a 3% contribution to a 401k”. Our advice to both employees and employers is to make sure they have a full understanding of the total compensation package and shift the focus away from the hourly rate by itself. Lastly, being treated fairly and being happy at a job is always worth more than a couple dollars an hour.
Download PDF version of the results below. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments.