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2017-18 Hygienist Salary and Benefits Survey

Dental Connections and the WDHA have partnered since 2008 to produce accurate, comprehensive, and current statistics about dental hygienist wages and benefits in dental offices. Dental Connections has provided salary survey data for over 25 years and this information is critical for all dental professionals and dental practices. We had a record number of respondents this year and want to thank everyone who participated. A special thank you to Michael Broome for helping us cross promote this survey through the Association’s marketing channels.

Before you read the results, we want to point out some weaknesses this survey has:

• It surveys ALL types of hygienists: traditional, restorative, part time, full time, experienced, new grads, etc. We know restorative RDHs make more than traditional RDHs. We know full time workers receive better benefits than part time workers. In most cases experienced professionals that have spent more time in a single practice are compensated higher for loyalty.

• A large number of respondents are from rural counties and this drags down the overall WA State hourly average.

• 26% 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.

We raise these issues because you cannot think of yourself as just a dental hygienist. Before determining whether your hourly rate is fair, you have to consider all of the important factors such as the city you live in, the hygiene role you perform, the type of practice you work in, and the benefits you receive (which can add approximately $5-$15/hour to your wage). Similarly, 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 like to discuss how much they are making per hour because it seems the most relevant. It may not be as exciting to say “I get one sick day per quarter 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.

If you want more in depth analysis or a conversation about your particular situation, please contact a placement consultant at Dental Connections.



74% Full Time Hygienists (3-5 days/wk):
26% Part Time Hygienists (1-2 days/wk):
94% Working in General Practice:
6% Working in Specialty Practice:

WA State Average $45.84

• King County $47.30
• Pierce County $46.08
• Thurston/Mason County $45.32
• Kitsap County $47.30
• Snohomish County $46.19
• Skagit/Whatcom County $46.04
• Cowlitz/Clark County $39.65
• Coastal Counties $50.93
• Eastern Washington $42.74

Overall Average 13.92 years
With Current Position 7.29 years

94% Recall/Continuing Care
46% Photography
97% Periodontal Procedures
7% Rubber Dam Placement
18% Restorative Procedures
21% Impressions
4% Temporaries
54% X-rays
89% Digital X-rays
83% Computer in Op
54% Sealants
11% Laser
94% Anesthesia
79% Nitrous Oxide Admin
72% Schedule Appointments
23% Business Office Duties

Important note: part time and full time respondent results are combined which lowers the percentages of some categories. Part time employees generally have fewer benefits than full time employees.

55% Medical Insurance
74% Dental Insurance
9% Life Insurance
58% Retirement
43% Bonuses
76% Paid Vacation
71% Holidays
48% Sick or Well Leave
58% C/E Paid
50% Uniform Allowance

2017 Dental Connections Scholarship Award Recipient

We proudly announce that Seth Dunlap from Pima Medical Institute is our 2017 scholarship recipient. We had a lot of great applicants, but Seth really stood out. Prior to hygiene school he achieved a BA and MFA from Washington State University. He has been an active fund raising participant for his school and maintains a 4.0 GPA. Some of his fellow RDH colleagues may know him from attending Greater Seattle Dental Hygienists’ Society component meetings or from volunteering at Seattle King County Clinic. Seth has an extremely bright future in dentistry and we look forward to him graduating in June 2018. Congratulations Seth!

2015 Hygienist Salary Survey Results

Hygienist Salary Survey

June Temp RDH Jobs

RDH temp work available for rest of June:

Seattle 16, 17, 18, 23, 25
Lynnwood 15
Bothell 16, 17
Monroe 16, 18
Bellevue 15, 16
Issaquah 15
Burien 25
Renton 12, 16, 17, 18, 23, 27, 30
Kent 12, 15, 19, 20
Federal Way 11, 26
Tacoma 16, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26
Bremerton 25
Kingston 29, 30
Pt. Orchard 12, 15
Pt. Hadlock 19
Pt. Townsend 29, 30
Puyallup 11
Olympia 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26
Yelm 18, 22
Centralia 12

If you or any of your colleagues needs extra work on these dates please message We offer a $100 referral bonus too!

2015 Dental Connections Scholarship Recipient

This year we created our first ever scholarship that was awarded to a 1st year dental hygiene student. We proudly announce that Lori Burke from PIMA is our 2015 scholarship recipient. Lori is a remarkable young lady that already achieved a bachelor’s degree prior to hygiene school. She had strong competition for this award, but is a deserving winner. Thank you to everyone who applied. It was wonderful to learn about your stories and we know all of you will have a positive impact on the dental hygiene profession. Gene at the WSDHA guided us through the process of creating a scholarship and then on how to evaluate applicants. A big thanks to Gene because we never could have done it without her.

Lori accepting her award with a surprise visit to her classroom at PIMA

Lori accepting her award with a surprise visit to her classroom at PIMA

Making Yourself the Perfect Job Candidate Through Branding

Have you ever viewed your search for the perfect job as similar to how Coca-Cola marketers view their search for the perfect customer?

Okay, I agree. You are not a soft drink, but stay with me for a few minutes as I share with why you should care about using some of the same strategies the top brands in the world use in turning consumers into customers.

Just like Coca-Cola, you have a brand. In a nutshell, your brand is a promise of what your employer will get when he or she hires you.  Are you great with kids? Are you good at helping patients relax? Do you work hard? Are you a team player?

By now you have probably nodded your head in agreement to all those things and I could probably keep listing you would keep nodding, right?

That’s fine, but dive into your own head and figure out what your brand is – your strengths! Then ask a few of your friends and acquaintances who know you professionally (so mom probably doesn’t count).

Take all that information and create a long list in a Word Document of everything. Leave it all there, but shorten it down to your top three to five at the top of the page – each one could be a word or a short statement.  Save this document in the same folder as your resume because this is your brand and you’re going to be using it often as you market yourself as the best employee money can buy.

 Next Steps

Okay, so a job opening is posted in an area near you – you’re interested. No joke, here’s a listing I found today as I am writing this that reads like this: “We are a fun, family dental practice looking for a self-motivated, enthusiastic, adaptable team player to join us 1-2 days per week, including Saturdays.”

“Perfect” your lips whisper as your eyes widen. You are only looking to work a day or two a week while you go to school and Saturdays are no problem.

Almost without looking you start to open up your generically-written cover letter and resume, save them as PDF files and begin composing an e-mail to send with your attachments.


Before you send that e-mail, you’ve got some important things to do to improve your chances of getting an interview. It won’t take you long but it does make a difference.

Re-read the ad. They are a “fun” office and looking for someone “enthusiastic,” “self-motivated,”  and “adaptable.” In one sentence they gave you a hint of their brand “fun” and the brand they are looking for  “enthusiastic,” “self-motivated,”  and “adaptable” (which are probably also extensions of their brand).

Now, open up the list of your branding traits. How does it match up? If not at all, then do some more investigating if it’s really the job you want. It’s okay if it’s not a perfect match, so long as you see some areas that are common.

Next, and most important of all, open that cover letter back up and make sure what it says reflects what they are looking for. Because while YOU know you are all of those things, they won’t unless you demonstrate or tell them about it.

Along with the usual paragraph formalities included in traditional cover letters, include a truthful paragraph about how you are a great fit for their office because along with your technical skills you are (bullet these out):

  • Have a high level of enthusiasm for dentistry,
  • Described by co-workers and friends as proactive or a self starter,
  • Uniquely skilled at adjusting to different job duties.

Did you see how I reflected exactly what they were looking for without copying and pasting their words? Assuming you are being honest, you should absolutely marry your brand with their brand in the cover letter. So open up that online thesaurus and find some synonyms that capture what they are saying without being a copycat.

This same approach should also be taken with your resume. Anything they want and you have, make sure you include that in your cover letter AND resume before you send them out.

Vague Ads

So what if you find a job listing that tells you next to nothing about them? It’s pretty rare for that to happen, but you can go to their website, visit their office, talk to people that know people who work there.

Anything you can pick up on that will give you clues as to the type of brand they are and are looking for will help you be able to position your brand as a great match with their brand. If you have extra time, you should try and do this anyway, especially if they invite you for an interview. The more you know, the better prepared you can be to match your brand.

Final Quick Tips

I could go on and on a lot longer, but let’s wrap this up with six additional quick tips:

  • If you get an interview, you’ll need to turn your brand into an “elevator speech” that you can share within 30 seconds to a minute. Google “elevator speech” to get some ideas.
  • Create a consistent “look” or design for your brand on any printed or electronic marketing you do for yourself (business cards, post cards, website, design of your resume, etc.).
  • Does your physical appearance match your brand? There’s a wealth of research on colors, clothing, and hairstyles that can help guide you in this area. Search for that, too.
  • Have your friends help you with your behavior and mannerisms, again to ensure they are consistent with what you are saying is your brand.
  • How about your voice? Nobody likes hearing their voice, but do you sound like you think your brand should sound? Friends are good for helping you with that, also.
  • Finally, make sure your social media sites and general presence on the Internet is not inconsistent. Google your name and see what you find. Studies show, most potential employers do this so it’s best to get ahead of that to make sure you are okay with what they see and read.


About: Doug & Tracie Perry are co-authors of Landing a Great Dental Hygiene Job and own – a career resource for dental hygienists offering job hunting strategies, products, and services.

Employer of the Month | Wedgwood Dental Center

Once a month Dental Connections features a dental practice we work with that is an exceptional employer.  For October we are recognizing Wedgwood Dental Center in Seattle owned by Dr. Emily Shackelton.  We have known Dr. Shackelton since 2002 when she began working with Dental Connections as an applicant looking for work.   It has been exciting to see her career and business grow.  Last year she celebrated the opening of a new location with more space in the same neighborhood.

From the practice:

Dr Emily Shackelton began her dental career in 1989, graduating from Eastern Washington University’s Dental Hygiene program.  She enjoyed dentistry so much she completed her dental degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee WI.  In 2006 she opened Wedgwood Dental Center in NE Seattle.  Wedgwood Dental Center is committed to performing high quality and comfortable dental care for patients of all ages.  A recent move has allowed us to expand and add new technology.  We have a great team that enjoys providing our patients the care they need.  We have been working with Dental Connections for all of our temporary and permanent needs since we opened our doors.  Shackelton

Employer of the Month | Banner Family Dental

Once a month Dental Connections features a dental practice we work with that is an exceptional employer.  For the month of September we are recognizing Banner Family Dental in Tumwater.   Dr. Brant Banner is a long term client and his history with us dates back to the 80s.  Dr. Banner’s son Lael joined the practice in 2003 to help carry on his legacy.  This is the 3rd father son team that has been nominated this year.  It is no surprise that family and patient oriented practices like this one are the most successful.

From the office:

Banner Family Dental is a father son practice that has been providing dentistry for families in the Olympia area for nearly 40 years. The goal of our practice is to provide state of the art dentistry in a comfortable, family friendly environment. This goal is achieved by a commitment to our vision by our dedicated staff. This outstanding staff was assembled utilizing Dental Connections services over the years.

Pictured from left to right:  Brittney, Carly, Lindsey, Peggy, Dr. Lael, Dr. Brant, Jen, Camille, Dianne

Pictured from left to right: Brittney, Carly, Lindsey, Peggy, Dr. Lael, Dr. Brant, Jen, Camille, Dianne

Employer of the Month | McPhee Dental Group

Once a month Dental Connections features a dental practice we work with that is an exceptional employer. This month we are recognizing McPhee Dental Group in University Place. Dr. Brad McPhee and his son Dr. Sean McPhee run one of the most respected practices in Pierce County. They have such low turnover that we rarely get to place permanent staff with them. However, our temps always rave about the quality of dentistry and welcoming staff.

Quote from Dr. Brad McPhee: I am very blessed to have a great long term staff. We have over 225 years worth of experience in our office. Three of my staff members, Trisha (front office), Rae (dental assistant) and Penny (dental hygienist) have been at the office longer than I have. My staff makes treating patients a joy and keeps the office running smoothly. They make it easy to go to work every day! We are lucky to associate with Dental Connections. Between vacation and injuries, we have had to use their services more the last couple of years. The permanent staff and temporary staff that I hire from them are always professional and well trained.

Employer of the Month | Spencer Family Dental

Once a month Dental Connections features a dental practice we work with that is an exceptional employer. This month we are recognizing Spencer Family Dental. We have a unique history with its owner, Dr Anna Spencer. She used to be a temp dentist through our agency and we sent her to temp at this practice in January 2009. A few short months later she became the owner. It’s been fulfilling for us to see her grow the business and transform the office into a state of the art office with a solid group of dental professionals surrounding her. She added a 2nd location in Graham in 2010 with her husband Dr. Dan Spencer and a 3rd location in Olympia last year.

From the practice:

At Spencer Family Dental our team and our Doctors strive to provide high quality comprehensive dental care in and inviting a patient focused environment. We aim to make each patients’ experience as fun and comfortable as possible. Our doctors have been providing dental care in the south sound for over 12 years with emphasis on treating the whole family. We could not provide this care without the help of our wonderful team members who go above and beyond to make our patients feel at home. At Spencer Family Dental our motto is “For family, by family”

Dental Connections is a dental employment agency offering temporary and permanent placement services for dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and business staff. We are more than just a temp agency because all of the dental professionals we represent are screened with a personal interview. Half our business is dedicated to permanent placement. Our service area is all of Western Washington, with most jobs in the following cities: Everett, Lynnwood, Seattle, Bothell, Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Renton, Kent, Federal Way, Auburn, Puyallup, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Bremerton, Olympia, and Centralia.