If you’re looking to jump into a career right away you’re probably wondering how long it takes to become a certified dental hygienist. Unfortunately, there’s no single answer that applies to everyone. For those with clinical experience and a BS or MS, you can start practicing as a DH in as little as 18 months. However, those that haven’t taken science since high school have a much longer road ahead of them.
Firstly, how long it will take you to earn your dental hygienist certification depends on your current level of education and coursework. If you only have a high school diploma or a GED you’ll need to complete a lot of basic science prerequisites before you can apply to dental hygiene school. Courses you’ll need to take include statistics, human anatomy, chemistry and microbiology. If you’ve already taken these classes at a community college or university then you’ll likely attend/finish school much more quickly.
The time it takes also depends on how much time you can commit to your dental hygiene education. If you can only take online or night courses it will take quite a bit longer than studying full-time. Those that drop everything and study dental hygiene full time can generally graduate within 2-years. However, you may finish in four or more years as a part-time student.
Finally, think about when you want to take your board exam. Many dental hygienists decide to take their exam a few months after graduating from DH school in order to properly study. After all, you definitely need to put your head to the grindstone and study all the time if you expect to pass –something that’s impossible to do if you’re busy with your last semester of classes.
The best thing you can do right now is take as many science courses that dental hygienist schools require for admission as you search for schools.