How to Become a Travel RDH

How to Become a Travel RDH

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
How to Become a Travel RDH

As a traveling dental hygienist, you have a lot of different options. You can temp here and there in your local area, travel across the state to work in offices nowhere near your home, or even get other state licenses to go around the country and work in different offices for 3-6 months at a time.

Wondering how to become a traveling dental hygienist? We’ll talk you through the steps below!

What Are The Requirements For A Travel RDH?

1) Dental Hygiene License

First off, every travel RDH has to have an active dental hygiene license in the state that they’re planning to work in. Before you start freaking out, know those travel hygiene agencies can actually work with you to line everything up and make this happen as quickly as possible.

2) Flexibility  

Second, you’ll need to be able to travel. That sounds obvious, but if you’re a homeowner or have a family with small children, there’s a good chance you can’t drop everything like a hot potato and start working a few hours away. If you have a spouse who works remotely, this is an extra plus!

3) Credentials 

Third, you’ll need to be caught up on all of your other credentials. Like CPR training, immunizations, nitrous oxide, and local anesthesia (if applicable) and not having any bad track records attached to your state license.

4) Type Temp Agency

Finally, you’ll need to sign an agreement with a travel RDH temp agency or temping app for short-term gigs. A placement agency will help you land a travel gig, find housing (if needed) or even offer free corporate housing, plus make sure you have a stable place of employment in your desired location. The more flexible you are, the easier it is to land a traveling dental hygienist position.

What Certifications Are Needed To Become A Travel RDH?

To be a travel RDH, you’ll have to have the required licenses and certifications of the state you plan on working in. Since dental hygienists can’t usually transfer their license from one state to the next with a phone call, special steps are required. You’ll probably have to submit paperwork to that state’s dental board, take a couple of tests (such as jurisprudence exams) or even get special licensure as an add-on to your RDH license, like nitrous oxide certification.

If you’re trying to figure out how to become a traveling dental hygienist, the best thing to do is work with a placement agency. They do this all day, every day. And in most cases, they’ll help collect all of the paperwork from you to expedite an RDH license in another state, then walk you through the next steps required. Depending on where you live, where you want to temp, and how long you’ve been practicing, you might even need to take an extra board exam (I know, it sounds horrible, but it doesn’t have to be!)

All of that being said, you can still be a traveling dental hygienist in your current state without going through all of these extra steps. As long as you have a license, you can find temp or travel RDH gigs anywhere in your state and pick up shifts whenever you want to. You’ll just have to have your licensing information on file with the app or agency that’s placing you.

Benefits Of Travel Dental Hygiene

As a travel dental hygienist, you get to enjoy a lot of the same perks as travel RNs, which have been around for years. Because there is a shortage of dental hygienists in some parts of the country, it’s fairly easy to find a travel RDH job even if you’re new to the industry. Here are just some of the advantages you’ll gain by becoming more mobile in your current career path:

1) The Travel

Who doesn’t like the opportunity to see the world?! When you’re a travel RDH, you can spend up to a few months at a time in other areas that you may have otherwise never been able to explore. You can think of it like tourism on overdrive. Instead of spending 3-4 days somewhere on vacation, you have nights and weekends to explore new places away from your home.

2) Higher Salary

It pays to work as a traveling dental hygienist. Literally. Temping hygienists can already make more per hour than traditional RDH jobs in some cases. And depending on which state you’re coming from and which state you’re going to your pay may be up to $25 an hour more than what you normally get. Most of it depends on the geographical area, what your availability is like, and which placement agency you’re using.

3) The Experience & Personal Growth

Going to new places and meeting new people helps make us who we are. As a travel RDH, you get the chance to work in offices and specialty practices that you might never have the chance to back home. Some travel hygiene jobs are even in clinical or research facilities, widening your scope of knowledge and facilitating active learning every day on the job. If you’re considering switching to a different specialty of dentistry for your hygiene job, travel temping is a great way to try it out before committing long term.

4) The Flexibility

Just like traditional hygiene temping, travel RDH jobs allow you to dictate where you go, when you go, how often you work, and what you’re doing. If you want to Airbnb hop and hike three days a week, be a foodie one day a week, and only work 2-3 days a week, you can. Or if you want the option of working in one state full-time for 3-4 months and another state the next, you can do that too. There are tons of options.

5) The Networking

Traditional dental hygiene jobs keep you with the same team of providers and professionals day after day. Is that a bad thing? Not at all! But it definitely limits your networking opportunities. If you’re someone who eventually wants to get into research, teaching, peer review projects, or product development, a lot of your success is going to depend on who and what you know. When you travel, you get to network with industry leaders and attend meetings or conventions in areas that you otherwise wouldn’t have ever visited.

6) Leadership Building 

There’s something about being a traveling hygienist that brings out your independence and entrepreneurship. You’re basically taking charge of your career by picking and choosing where it takes you. Traveling RDHs tend to be seen as highly professional by their employers and peers, because they “go out on a limb” so to speak, and do something “outside the box.”

How To Get Started 

You can easily start out as a traveling dental hygienist in your state as soon as you want. Simply download a dental temping app like onDiem, set up your profile, or connect with staffing agencies near you. Be sure to have a photo, desired salary on file, and set a geographical area for where you’d like to work.

If you’re ready to travel across state lines, the best thing to do is get on board with a traveling dental staffing agency that serves offices across the country. You’ll probably want to find one that offers free corporate housing or can find cheap short-term rentals in those areas.

Make sure you have all of your paperwork handy. From a copy of your license to your annual CE hours, you’ll need to be able to physically prove that you’re licensed to work as a clinical hygienist. Any extra certifications should also be kept in your professional files in case you need them for any reason.

After that, it’s time to pack up! Travel light and bring an extra couple of pairs of scrubs, just in case. If you’re staying in corporate housing, the apartments will usually be furnished for you. Or maybe you’re an empty nester Airbnb hoping that works too!

How To Travel And Work As A Dental Hygienist

Trying to figure out how to become a traveling dental hygienist isn’t as confusing as it sounds. Especially if you’re working with a dental staffing agency, are single, or have a partner who can work remotely. To start, you’ll need an active RDH license in your current state. From there, you have the option to travel throughout your current state or work with the placement agency to help you get hygiene licenses in the other states you plan on visiting. Since travel RDHs are becoming more common, your temping agency can make the process as smooth as possible!

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Last updated onNovember 28, 2023Here is our process

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