It’s that time of year – the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has released their annual report on professional wages, including dental hygiene.
So this week, let’s review where things stand for each state.
First of all, I recognize these are only state averages. Metro and rural areas within each state are generally going to be higher and lower proportionately. However no salary survey is perfect because every office is unique. Salary surveys are only meant to give you a rough idea or starting point.
The fact of the matter is, each employer has a different threshold for compensating employees – some a generous and others are, well… not so much. And, there are other factors, too. Some employers may have a lower wage but make up for it in bonuses and benefits. Others pay exceptionally well, but offer no benefits and an office culture that is strained.
So a salary is only one measure of your experience as a dental hygienist. The value of salary surveys is that they give you some power in negotiation (if you are on the lower end). And give people like me an opportunity to point out trends that can arm you with a little bit of information.
This salary survey report is also just snapshot in time – from May 2015. The BLS begins gathering its data in May of each year and within about nine months have it all compiled and ready for report. So in this article I will be comparing the May 2015 data to the May 2014 report.
Nationally, dental hygiene hourly wages are up $0.65 from the year prior – it seems like a modest gain, but compared to other industries is actually pretty good. Nationally, all industry wages only crept up about $0.05 per hour. The overall economy was still surging a bit from 2014 to 2015, but has since slowed so it will be interesting to see if wages show slower growth in the May 2016 report.
Eleven states reported gains of more than $1 per hour for hygienists in 2015. Leading the way was New Mexico, who saw average wages improve by a staggering $6.59 (from $36.34 in 2014 to $42.93). New Mexico hygienists improved so much that they went from ranking 15th in the nation in the previous year to third highest state (behind California and the District of Columbia).