Dental Connections surveys local dental hygienists on an annual basis to produce accurate, comprehensive, and current statistics about their wages and benefits in dental offices. The answers to this survey are completely anonymous and provide the most up to date and accurate statistics available anywhere.
Before reading the results, we want to point out some key observations and historical trends:
• This survey combines ALL types of hygienists: traditional, accelerated, restorative, part time, full time, experienced, new grads, etc. Accelerated and restorative hygienists typically make more than traditional hygienists. Full time workers receive better benefits than part time workers. Take this into account while analyzing the statistics.
• The greater Seattle area is in its 6th year of an extreme shortage of hygienists. The Covid-19 pandemic has made a bad situation even worse. There are cohorts of workers that have retired or not returned to the workforce for health concerns/childcare reasons. The average age of workers has decreased dramatically. Years of experience dropped from 15.85 in 2020 to 9.99 in 2021. That is a startling number. Maybe it is a one year anomaly or the older generation of hygienists will not return at all.
• The survey compares hourly rates in 2021 vs. 2020. Examining just one geographic segment in North King County reveals hourly rates have risen over 9% in a single year. The increases vary by geographic area, but all track a similar trend of upward pressure on wages.
• Historically, experienced professionals that have spent more time in a single practice are compensated higher for loyalty. This is no longer the case because the shortage and increasing wages has not plateaued yet. Dental hygienists are routinely accepting permanent job offers or temp jobs well above the average hourly rates of employed individuals.
• 21% of respondents are part time workers and this has a dramatic effect on benefits statistics. The benefits 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). Lastly, being satisfied in your job or with a loyal employee on a daily basis is always worth way more than a couple dollars an hour.