Most common degree: Associate’s
Median pay: $66,570
Dental hygienists examine patients’ gums, perform cleanings, take X-rays, and in some states even administer anesthesia. Most of the 301 accredited dental hygiene programs in the United States grant associate’s degrees. As with other healthcare occupations, dental hygienists need a state license to practice, so exams are also part of the deal.
Best Careers 2010: Dental Hygienist
Next: Respiratory therapist