Best Dental Hygiene Schools in Florida – 2023
Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
If you are interested in an exciting career that offers outstanding job security and a great starting salary in Florida, you should consider becoming a dental hygienist. As a dental hygienist, you will play a vital support role in the dental healthcare industry and work very closely with your patients every day. If this sounds like the perfect career for you, check out the list of the best dental hygiene schools in Florida below. The first step in your journey involves getting a good education.
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What Courses will I be Taking During my Dental Hygienist Training?
No matter which of the dental hygiene programs in FL you choose, you will take a variety of courses. Some are standard, including health and biology, but others are a little more specialized. They include the following:
This course teaches you the best ways to use dental instruments like scalers and probes.
Dental x-rays are very common, and as a hygienist, you may be required to get images of patients’ bones and teeth. This course teaches you about dental x-ray accuracy and safety.
• Dental Materials:
This course introduces you to the various materials in the oral healthcare environment. Dentists use numerous materials, including polymers, ceramics, and others.
You will learn effective communication skills that will allow you to better educate patients when it comes to caring for their teeth and gums at home.
• Anxiety and Pain Control:
This course gives you the tools you need to help patients feel more at ease by relieving their pain and anxiety.
• Dental Hygiene Theory:
These courses are spread across four terms and focuses on the theoretical foundation of the services you will provide to your patients.
Dental Hygiene Program Length & Cost in Florida
The time it will take you to complete your dental hygiene education in FL– and the amount of money you will pay for it – varies depending on the type of program you choose. An associate degree takes only about two years and costs $42,590 or less while a bachelor’s degree costs up to $77,900 and takes about four years. If you want to pursue a master’s degree, you will go to school for an additional one or two years after completing the bachelor’s program and spend an additional $23,160 to $71,520.
| Type of Program|| Length|| Cost|
|Associate Degree||20 - 30 Months||$3,840 - $42,590|
|Bachelor's Degree||4 - years||$17,770 - $77,900|
|Master's Degree||Between 1 and 2 years||$23,160 - $71,520|
WHAT ARE THE BEST DENTAL HYGIENE PROGRAMS IN FLORIDA?
(Based on our Ranking Methodology, below are the 12 best dental hygiene programs in Florida. The list includes both campus-based and online programs.)
Miami Dade College is one of the leading dental hygiene schools in the state. It trains students to be job ready with the required skills and knowledge, by combining didactic and lab sessions, with extensive clinical learning at a fully-equipped dental clinic.
The college offers an associate degree in dental hygiene that can be completed in about two years. The program is offered at the college’s Medical Campus and requires completion of 88 credits, including general education and dental hygiene courses. It starts in August each year and classes are offered full-time, during the day. General education courses that are also offered online preferably should be completed before starting the dental hygiene coursework.
The dental hygiene curriculum includes courses in dental anatomy, preventive dentistry, dental radiology, periodontology, community dental health, dental materials, and dental practice management and leadership.
Santa Fe College’s rich learning environment is complemented by a dedicated faculty, individualized attention and hands-on learning experiences at the college’s dental clinic. Additionally, clinical rotations at the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry and dental offices in Alachua further hone professional skills and knowledge.
The college offers an associate degree for dental hygiene aspirants.
To earn your degree, you will complete a rigorous curriculum that requires 35 to 37 class hours each week. You will be trained to work as a dental hygienist in a variety of work settings such as dental clinics, educational institutions, research laboratories, and public health. The coursework is broad and includes anatomic, biological, dental science and clinical courses. Upon completion of this program, you will be eligible to take the administration of local anesthesia certification exam along with the national and state licensure exams.
Located in a picturesque location, close the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Coast State College has been providing dental hygiene training since 1996. The college is well-equipped with the latest facilities and its state-of-the-art dental clinic further adds to the learning curve of its students.
This two-year associate degree in dental hygiene offered by the college prepares you for the state and national licensure exams, and helps you become a vital member of a dental team. The college is highly selective in its admission policy and admits only 16 students each year for this rigorous full-time program. The 88-credit coursework incorporates courses in biological and behavioral sciences with dental and dental hygiene sciences to give you a well-rounded education. The clinical component requires you to practice professional skills, mutually on other members of the cohort. Upon graduation, you will be able to work in an array of work settings, including, dental clinics, dental schools, research, insurance, dental supply companies, and public health departments
Eastern Florida State College is a dental hygiene school in Florida that strives to give back to the community by providing an effective platform, where dental hygiene students learn and serve the community through annual public dental service events and a fully functional dental clinic.
This dental hygiene program at EFSC is an associate degree that can be completed in two years of full-time study. The coursework is a blend of general education, science, and dental hygiene courses. The college recommends completing general education and science courses before starting the dental hygiene coursework. With only 12 students being selected each year, you can up your odds of admission, by completing the pre-requisite courses in nutrition, microbiology, anatomy, physiology and an introduction to healthcare with a minimum grade “C.”
For more than 50 years, St Petersburg College has trained dental hygiene students to excel in this job position. Graduates are known to have performed exceedingly well on the state and national licensure exams.
St Petersburg College offers an associate and bachelor’s in dental hygiene. While the associate allows even those without a dental background to enter, the bachelor’s requires you to be a licensed dental hygienist.
Dental Hygiene Associate in Science Degree:
This two-year program serves as an academic pathway for an advanced degree in dental hygiene. The program is offered in a cohort format with sequential coursework. The 58 credits dental hygiene curriculum includes courses in oral histology, dental radiography, preventive dentistry, dental materials, dental pharmacology, community dental health, periodontics and clinical training. Additionally, if you qualify, you can even enjoy a clinical learning experience in Jamaica.
Dental Hygiene B.A.S. Degree:
All the courses in this program are offered completely online. It expands on the knowledge you have gained in your associate and greatly widens career prospects in research, education, management, and sales.
Valencia College has been offering a dental hygiene program since 1977, and its many graduates are successfully working across the country as clinicians, faculty and public health hygienists. With a fully functional dental clinic on-campus, students get an opportunity sharpen their professional skills before they join the workforce.
You can enter the dental field with this associate in dental hygiene that takes two years to complete. The program starts in summer each year and spans six semesters. This intensive curriculum includes courses in general education, dental science, and dental hygiene and well educates you to competently work in entry-level positions as a dental hygienist. You must complete all these courses with a minimum grade “C” to progress through the program. You will learn effective patient communication, evidence-based decision making and promotion of oral health in patients. Additionally, the college offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Leadership that greatly enhance your career prospects. It prepares you for management and supervisory positions in the dental hygiene field.
Tallahassee Community College is a prominent community college that serves dental hygiene aspirants from the counties of Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla.
The dental hygiene program offered by TCC is an associate degree that can be completed in six semesters, provided you complete 15 credit hours each term. To be eligible for the program you need to have a minimum grade “C” in all the pre-requisite courses. Offered in fall, this program admits only a limited number of students each year. To complete its broad curriculum, you will go through face-to-face didactic sessions, lab experiences and clinical rotations. Upon graduation, you will enhance your clinical reasoning and communication skills and be proficient in performing all the functions required of a dental hygienist working in entry-level positions.
Indian River State College provides employment ready dental hygiene training with an affordable tuition cost. Student support services, financial aid, personalized attention, and an experienced faculty make this educational experience a rather smoother one.
By completing this two-year associate degree in dental hygiene, you will develop vital skills required for this career such as interpersonal skills, communication, critical thinking, organizational skills and a lifelong commitment to learning. Students go through practice experiences at the college’s dental clinic where they provide dental care to a diverse population under the supervision of faculty. The curriculum provides a solid grounding by integrating anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, immunology, general pathology, nutrition and pharmacology along with dental hygiene courses.
Broward College facilitates quality dental hygiene education with its student-friendly services such as a Career Center, financial aid and scholarships that go hand in hand with a job ready curriculum.
This dental hygiene course in FL is offered in a unique format where you complete one year of study in dental assisting, followed by another year in dental hygiene. Each year, in August approximately 16 students are admitted into the dental hygiene cohort. Dental Pharmacology, pain control, dental anesthesia, oral histology, and periodontology are some of the courses you will complete as part of your dental hygiene curriculum.
The advantage this program offers is that after the completion of your first year in dental assisting you can apply for internships and give your career quite a boost. You have up to three years to enroll for the dental hygiene program after you complete your dental assisting education. Some students go on to work during this period and gain valuable work experience while also earning to pay for their second year of study in dental hygiene.
Florida State College’s excellent dental hygiene training supported by a dedicated faculty has led to students passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination with outstanding pass rates.
To become a dental hygienist in FL you can consider this two-year associate that starts once a year in the fall semester. The coursework comprises of 16 credits in general education courses, 12 credits in sciences and 60 credits in the dental hygiene coursework. To graduate you must complete all these courses with a minimum grade of “C,” after which you will acquire the knowledge and skills required to offer clinical and therapeutic dental services to patients to improve their oral health. The courses are offered in a sequence and include oral anatomy, oral histology, preventive dentistry, introduction to clinical procedures, dental radiology, periodontics, dental materials, community oral health, and ethics and laws relevant to your dental practice.
At its oldest and largest campus in Dale Mabry, Hillsborough Community College provides an environment that is well-equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as labs and a dental clinic where dental hygiene students are mentored under an able faculty.
The dental hygiene program offered in fall is an associate that takes five consecutive semesters to complete. If you complete the general education coursework before starting the dental hygiene courses, then a commitment of 35 to 40 hours each week will suffice to complete the dental hygiene coursework. You will learn to perform scaling, cleaning, plaque removal, root planning, application of dental sealants, dental radiography and educating patients about oral hygiene.
Palm Beach State College offers a dental hygiene program in FL that is affordable and of high quality. Small sized classes, an excellent faculty, and a well-equipped dental clinic make it a rather enriching place to pursue a career in the allied dental field. The college’s transfer agreements with several other institutions make a transfer into a four-year college a hassle-free process.
The program is an associate that can be completed in just 21 months of full-time study. Beginning in fall, you must complete a total of 88 credits that comprise 18 in natural science courses, 18 in general education courses and 52 in dental hygiene courses. Upon completion of this program, you will be eligible to take the national and state licensure exams. For those aspiring broader career avenues, you can transfer credits towards a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management.
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Dental Hygienist Career Information For Florida - 2023
How Many Dental Hygienists are Currently Employed in FL?
Where do Dental Hygienists Work in Florida?
Most of the dental hygienists in FL work in dentists’ offices. In fact, of the 12,690 dental hygienists in the state, 12,400 of them work for dentists. About 290 others work for the government or in doctors’ offices, and they fill important support roles regardless of where they work.
No matter which industry you choose, you will play a crucial support role. You will examine patients’ teeth and gums, perform deep cleanings, educate patients on proper oral care, and even assist dentists in a variety of different procedures like extractions, fillings, and more. You may also take patient histories, handle billing, answer phones, and provide various types of clerical support, too.
| Industry||Number of Dental Hygienists|
|Offices of Dentists||12,400|
|Offices of Physicians||130|
What is the Average Salary of a Dental Hygienist in Florida?
The average annual dental hygienist salary in Florida is $76,100 a year, which is the same as $36.59 an hour or $6,340 a month. It is important to remember that the more education and experience you have, the higher your salary will climb. If you have a master’s degree, you will earn much more than someone who only has an associate degree. You can also increase your salary by working in a part of Florida that is known for paying its dental support staff and other healthcare providers very well.
| Type|| Salary|
| Monthly||$6,340 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Salary Based on Years of Experience
| Years of Experience || Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Less than 1 year (Starting) || $28.42 || $4,930 || $59,120 |
| 1-4 years || $35.49 || $6,150 || $73,810 |
| 5-9 years || $37.34 || $6,470 || $77,660 |
| 10-19 years || $39.11 || $6,780 || $81,350 |
| 20 years or more || $41.16 || $7,130 || $85,610 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Dental Hygienist Average Salary Comparison: Florida vs. National
Across the nation, the average salary for all dental hygienists is $84,860 a year. In Florida specifically, you will earn $8,760 less, which is a difference of 10.32%.
|Florida|| National|| Difference|
| Number|| %|
|$76,100 ||$84,860 ||-$8,760||-10.32%|
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Though your pay may be lower than the national average, you can enjoy excellent job security as a dental hygienist in FL. Between 2020 and 2030, employment is expected to grow 32.30% with the addition of 3,850 new job opportunities across the state.
Florida is known for its appeal as a retirement destination, so its population is always growing, and much of the population consists of elderly retirees. As people get older, they require more healthcare, and that includes dental care. For this reason, because dental hygienists can provide a number of basic dental services, more of them will be needed each year to keep up with the increasing patient load.
| Employment|| Employment Growth (2020-2030)|
| 2020|| 2030|| Number|| Percent|
Annual Job Openings
| New || Replacement|| Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)|
Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data
If you want to give yourself access to the highest number of job opportunities or the best possible income as a dental hygienist in FL, it is important to think about the metro area where you will work. Often, areas that have the most job openings tend to pay the least. Conversely, the more lucrative positions that pay the most are rarer.
As an example, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro employs more dental hygienists than any other part of the state, but the average annual salary in this area is only $74,080. On the other hand, the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metro employs only 260 of the just over 13,090 dental hygienists in FL, but the average annual pay tops out at a significantly higher $93,330.
When thinking about where you will work, it is vital that you take the time to balance employment opportunities with average income. Though the precise location in Florida is important, you should also keep in mind that there are other factors that can affect your employability and pay, too. Finding the right balance is key to your success.
| Metro || Employment || Average Salary |
| Hourly || Monthly || Annual |
| Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach || 3,670 || $35.62 || $6,170 || $74,080 |
| Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater || 2,090 || $39.02 || $6,760 || $81,160 |
| Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford || 1,940 || $36.04 || $6,250 || $74,960 |
| Jacksonville || 980 || $37.77 || $6,550 || $78,560 |
| North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton || 640 || $37.15 || $6,440 || $77,280 |
| Cape Coral-Fort Myers || 430 || $37.21 || $6,450 || $77,400 |
| Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville || 370 || $36.23 || $6,280 || $75,360 |
| Port St. Lucie || 310 || $32.85 || $5,690 || $68,330 |
| Lakeland-Winter Haven || 280 || $36.35 || $6,300 || $75,610 |
| Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach || 260 || $35.11 || $6,090 || $73,020 |
| Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island || 260 || $44.87 || $7,780 || $93,330 |
| Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent || 260 || $34.55 || $5,990 || $71,860 |
| Ocala || 210 || $33.36 || $5,780 || $69,390 |
| Gainesville || 200 || $37.77 || $6,550 || $78,570 |
| Sebastian-Vero Beach || 200 || $37.45 || $6,490 || $77,900 |
| Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin || 160 || $34.25 || $5,940 || $71,230 |
| Tallahassee || 150 || $32.86 || $5,700 || $68,350 |
| Punta Gorda || 90 || $37.04 || $6,420 || $77,050 |
| Panama City || 80 || $32.79 || $5,680 || $68,200 |
| Homosassa Springs || 60 || $33.92 || $5,880 || $70,550 |
| The Villages || 60 || $37.50 || $6,500 || $78,010 |
| Sebring || 50 || $33.68 || $5,840 || $70,050 |
|(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
Useful Dental Hygienist Organizations & Associations in Florida
Florida Dental Hygiene Association (FDHA)
The Florida Dental Hygiene Association, or FDHA, is an organization committed to supporting its members. Their mission involves keeping healthcare providers across the state in the loop regarding the various services that dental hygienists can provide. A student membership offers you the opportunity to read important publications and the National Dental Hygiene Board Review
course that can help you prepare for your career.
Northeast Florida Dental Hygienist's Association (NEFDHA)
The Northeast Florida Dental Hygienist’s Association, or NEFDHA, is dedicated to supporting dental hygiene professionals throughout their careers, whether they are still in school or nearing retirement. Their mission involves improving and empowering the art and science that fuels dental hygiene and promoting the best possible education for aspiring and current professionals. The NEFDHA does not require membership, but it provides access to valuable resources.
Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.