Jeanerie, an Oral Hygienist, tells why you don’t need to be germ freak to keep pearly whites in mint condition for a living. 

What are your favourite and your least parts of your day-to-day job?

Working and interacting with different people is lovely. I don’t like the negative patients with an inherent fear for dentists.

How is the pay in your job/industry? 

I started with R3000 back in 1989, but they now Oral Hygienists earn between R18 000 to R25 000.

How are the hours in your job/industry?  

You work 9-5 daily and 2 weekends per month from 8-12.

What type of personality would love doing your job? And what type of person would hate doing what you do?

You must be a social person. You don’t necessarily need to be clinical and perfectionistic by nature – you get taught that with your studies – but you must be social.

How is your day-to-day work different to what you expected?

Its better in real-life than in my expectations. When your studying, they prepare you for the absolute worst and the most extreme cases.

What a) skills b) qualifications c) experience do employers look for in people who want to land your job?

Oral Hygienist degree and experience where you can. Shadowing at dentist office over holidays.

Are there any changes you foresee in your industry that might influence the way teens should approach a career in your field?

Oral Hygienists can now open their own practice in SA, so if you want to go that way you must be sure to take business studies as a subject; you’ll have to manage the practice yourself.

Is there anything you wish you had known when you were a teen, career-wise?

Dentists easily exploit oral hygienists, so be sure to think wisely before you accept a position. The perk of working for a dentist is, you don’t have the stress about managing the practice yourself.

The acceptance to the course is strict, but there are many job opportunities. There are also many short-courses that keep you up-to-date, so be aware you’ll get some long theory-filled days every now and again.