Future health-care professionals may want to start their careers after earning a two-year associate degree rather than spending years attending med school. But when it comes to career paths, they have a variety of options to choose from. One of them is to study to be a radiologic technician or technologist, the people who perform diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays. Another is to train as a dental hygienist, who works with dentists cleaning teeth and assisting with oral care. The potential income could be the deciding factor for students.
Radiologic Technologist Pay
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of May 2012, radiologic technologists earned an average annual wage of $56,450, equal to $27.14 an hour. The best-paid 25 percent earned $66,550 or more, with the top 10 percent making $77,160 or higher. The lowest-paid 25 percent earned $44,490 or less, with the bottom 10 percent making $37,060 or lower.
Dental Hygienist Pay
The Bureau reported that dental hygienists earned an average annual wage of $70,700, equal to $33.99 an hour, as of May 2012. This was more than 25 percent higher than the average wage for radiologic technologists in the same survey. The best-paid 25 percent earned $84,570 or more, with the top 10 percent paid $96,280 or higher. The lowest-paid 25 percent earned $58,130 or less, with the bottom 10 percent paid $46,540 or lower.
Where They Work
Most radiologic technologists -- about 60 percent -- are employed by general hospitals, where they earned an average of $56,590 a year, according to the Bureau. Almost all dental hygienists -- almost 96 percent -- are employed in dentists' offices, where they earned an average of $71,000 a year. The best average salary for radiologic technologists was found in higher education, with technologists at colleges and universities earning an average of $66,810. The best average salary for dental hygienists was in the ambulatory health-care industry, where they made $74,240 on average.
The Bureau found that radiologic technologists had a slight edge in employment in May 2012, but dental hygienists were likely to see greater job growth by 2020. The Bureau reported 194,790 radiologic technologists and 190,290 dental hygienists employed nationwide as of 2012. However, while radiologic technologist job growth was expected to reach 28 percent between 2010 and 2020 -- faster than the average for all occupations -- the estimate for dental hygienists was even higher, however, at 38 percent -- much faster than the overall average.
Eric Strauss spent 12 years as a newspaper copy editor, eventually serving as a deputy business editor at "The Star-Ledger" in New Jersey before transitioning into academic communications. His byline has appeared in several newspapers and websites. Strauss holds a B.A. in creative writing/professional writing and recently earned an M.A. in English literature.