Here is the annual list of the top 10 and bottom 5 cities for dental hygienists to live and work in 2022.
There are currently more than 200,000 dental hygienists in the United States of America – and that number is only expected to grow. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects another 23,000 jobs within the next 8 years—a number, they say, that is going to grow faster than average. With that in mind, it might be a good time to look at which communities are best—and maybe not be so hot—to find a job.
There are a lot of factors that go into establishing which are the best and worst communities for dental hygienists to live and work. Certainly, money matters. But while dental hygienists certainly have a strong level of compassion for others, they still have bills to pay. When evaluating cities’ merits, we have to look at a host of factors.
We started by looking at the BLS data which gave us hygienists’ salaries based on city or region. But the cost of living varies depending where in the country one lives and works. For instance, things like food, housing, and discretionary spending are more expensive in San Francisco, California than they are in southern West Virginia. As such, we added the AdvisorSmith Cost of Living Index as a factor in the calculations.
However, there is more to life than making money (nationwide, dental hygienists earned an average of $77,810 in 2021). That’s why we started adding such factors as the overall economy, public safety, and so forth.
Our complete list of metrics is:
Included, where available, is information about the total number in that profession for the community. Nationwide, there were a total of 206,100 dental hygienists in 2021.
In addition to BLS data, we refined our rankings from personal finance website Wallethub.com, US News & World Reports’ Healthiest Communities study and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for life expectancy by state.
We compiled all the rankings and then honed the list from there. Whoever got the lowest score earned the highest position on the list; whoever got the highest score, well, we talk about them also.
With no further ado…
Total – 551
The good news is that oral health and stress levels in Cedar Rapids, Iowa are in the top fifth of the nation. However, factoring in such metrics as public safety, community health, and the lower-than-average salary pushes the area to the number 10 position.
Photo courtesy of ©Roberto/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 541
The 140 hygienists serving the North Valley-Northern Mountains Region of California's nonmetropolitan area (including Colusa, Nevada, and Trinity counties) enjoy California's high life expectancy. However, like other California communities, a high cost of living index, 108.7, means that they have to do more with their above-average salary of $103,160. Other factors include low rankings for oral health and overall stress, pushing them to the number 9 position.
Photo courtesy of ©Wirestock/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 528
The 80 hygienists serving the Ames, Iowa area make a little less than the national average, but the cost of living index is only 91.5, which is seemingly manageable. The area does enjoy the number one spot for education, while oral health and stress scores are reasonably good. What conspires to pull them toward the bottom of the list is its public safety and economy scores.
Photo courtesy of ©C5Media/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 514
There are more dental hygienists (9,570) serving the New York-Newark-Jersey City Area than anywhere else in the country, besides Los Angeles. Those hygienists make more than the national average, earning $91,530per year, but with the cost-of-living index of 128, they have to be able to do more with their money. Happily, however, the area gets number three rankings for community health, public safety, and life expectancy.
Photo courtesy of ©Tierney/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 510
Despite a high cost of living index (119.2) coupled with a somewhat higher-than-average salary ($86,760) the 230 dental hygienists serving the Danbury, Connecticut area enjoy the area’s higher education ranking, economy, good oral health, and life expectancy scores.
Photo courtesy of ©mshch/stock.adobe.com
Total – 497
It should come as a surprise to no one that Rochester, Minnesota earns the top spot in terms of community health. The home of the Mayo Clinic earned this ranking from U.S. News & World Report’s Healthiest Communities study, which gave it a 97 out of 100 (which is a little down from last year’s perfect 100 score). That health grade trickled down to such other factors as stress and life expectancy. The 220 hygienists serving the area earned close to the national average with $77,790. The area also had very close to the national average for its cost of living index.
Photo courtesy of ©Jacob/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 491
The 110 dental hygienists who serve the Sioux City area, which is at a point where Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota meet, earn a little bit less than the national average. However, their cost of living index is only 87.1, almost 13% lower than the national average. Oral health and stress levels are respectable, but when we factor in community health and the economy, it pulls them down a little bit.
Photo courtesy of ©Susan/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 485
The 2,010 hygienists who live and work in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California area enjoy the highest wage of anybody on our list—$122,660 per year. Unfortunately, with the cost of living index o f173.5, those professionals have to know how to do a lot more with their money. With number 3 rankings for community health and number 1 rankings for the economy and life expectancy, it’s the cost of living index that conspires to keep the area from the number 1 overall spot.
Photo courtesy of ©Dreamframer/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 484
Earnings are higher in the number 2 position (Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut) than in the number 1 spot, but the 1,150 dental hygienists who work in the area have to do a little more with their money, having a cost of living index of 119.2. The area enjoys a number 2 ranking for education, a number 5 ranking for oral health, and a 6th place ranking for life expectancy.
Photo courtesy of ©Laura Stubbs/stock.adobe.com.
Total – 444
The 120 dental hygienists who live and work in Las Cruces, New Mexico didn’t make the most in the country – they were a little below average, in fact. The area’s cost of living index was also close to the national average, so earnings and spending were pretty fair. However, such factors as community health and public safety helped push the area into the top spot, despite it being one of the more stressed places in the nation.
Photo courtesy of ©David/stock.adobe.com.
With any top 10 list, there is a natural inclination to ask, “If those are the best places to live and work, where are the worst?” We crunched the numbers at the end of the list to present the following:
Total – 2,016
The 90 Dental hygienists who serve the Northeast South Carolina nonmetropolitan area (an area of 10 counties including Chesterfield, Dillon, and Marlboro counties) earn about $16,840 below the national average. Luckily, the area’s cost of living index is 88.1 which means that they can do more with their money. Regrettably, low scores for community health, education, public safety, and economy push it to the last position on our list.
Photo courtesy of marlborocounty.sc.gov.
Total – 1947
The 140 dental hygienists who serve the north Florida nonmetropolitan area (including Bradford, Jackson, and Washington counties) earn the 275th highest salary in the nation – $69,260 a year. The good news is that cost of living index is 93.6 – about 6½% less than the national average. However, low rankings for community health, education, and public safety, along with oral health, pushes them into the bottom 5.
Photo courtesy of Starke DCD.
Total – 1,980
The South Georgia Nonmetropolitan Area is comprised of 30 counties, including Bacon, Quitman, and Wayne Counties. There are 170 dental hygienists serving this area, earning an average of $65,220 a year. The good news is that the area’s cost of living index is 85.9, well below the national average. The bad news is that the area’s low scores for community health, economy, and public safety push it to the number 3 spot in the bottom 5.
Photo courtesy of Jud McCranie.
Total – 2,003
The 18 counties that comprise the Southeast Mississippi Nonmetropolitan Area (including Jasper, Lauderdale, and Stone counties) are served by 170 dental hygienists, earning $54,600 a year– well below the national average. The cost of living index for the area is 85.9, so they don’t have to work too hard to make ends meet. However, low scores in community health, education, and public safety push them down the list. The area also has a dubious honor of having last place scores for life expectancy and oral health.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi Today.
Total – 1944
The 170 dental hygienists who live in work in the Ocala, Florida area have low ranks for community health, education, economy, and public safety. However, while earning significantly less than the national average, their cost of living index is 94.5, meaning that hygienists in this area can do a little more with their money.
Photo courtesy of ©HJ/stock.adobe.com.