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Men in dental hygiene and dental assisting

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CTE students preparing for careers in dental assisting and dental hygiene have a lot to smile about. That’s because the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has designated these careers as “Bright Outlook” occupations that are expected to grow rapidly in the next several years. In New York, both are projected to experience a nearly 20% increase in job openings by 2030.

Traditionally, these occupations have been overwhelmingly held by women, with men comprising only 3.7% of dental hygienists and 5.9% of dental assistants. However, dental careers offer students of all genders high employability, a competitive income, and opportunities to help others live healthier lives. As in other healthcare fields, the dental professions are experiencing an acute shortage of workers, so there’s no better time for interested men to brush up on their skills in pursuit of a lucrative and rewarding dental career.


According to the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), the preparation required and duties performed by assistants and hygienists differ. Dental hygienists provide preventive care services, often working one-on-one with patients, while dental assistants support dentists who perform procedures and conduct examinations. Dental hygiene programs are often longer in duration (two to four years) and therefore more expensive to complete than dental assistant programs, some of which may be completed in months. However, as the data on this web page illustrates, the earning potential for dental hygienists is higher, reflecting the additional education, training, and certification requirements. You really can’t go wrong with either path, but you will want to ensure the specific programs you are considering are appropriate for your career goals and interests.


Did you know?

The Mr. RDH Facebook group is a platform where male dental hygienists can network, discuss their experiences, and promote the active participation of men in dental hygiene careers and professional organizations. It was founded in 2015 by Rafael Rondon, a dental hygienist with nearly 30 years of experience who completed his training at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Learn more about Mr RDH and meet Rafael and two of his fellow hygienists in the article “There Are Male Hygienists Among Us” in RDH magazine.



Dental Hygeine Colton Stein With SourceColton Stein, a 2022 Vanguard Award winner, admits he noticed the gender gap when he joined the Dental Hygiene program at SUNY Broome Community College. He recalls being one of only three men in a class that also included 40 women. However, he never felt that his gender impacted his academic performance or his interest in a career as a dental hygienist. 

“Gender just shouldn’t be a limiting factor,” Colton observed. “I believe that men and women do their best work when it’s work that they want to do. And if you see yourself in a career, you really just have to go for it.” 

Learn more about Colton’s experience as a male student in the female-dominated field of dental hygiene by watching his video profile on the Vanguard Awards website. The Vanguard Awards recognize outstanding students in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that are nontraditional for their gender.


QUICK FACTS about Jobs and Careers in Dental Assisting and Hygiene

Programs at NYS Community Colleges


  • Projected job growth in New York State, 2020-2030: 19%
  • Projected annual job openings in New York State, 2020-2030: 2,590
  • Annual median salary, New York State, 2022: $46,280

Source: O*NET Online


  • Projected job growth in New York State, 2020-2030: 19%
  • Projected annual job openings in New York State, 2020-2030: 980
  • Annual median salary, New York State, 2022: $89,030

Source: O*NET Online


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