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Per Diem vs. Hourly

What are the pros and cons of being paid per diem vs. hourly as a Hygienist in California? Are there any negotiation points for either that I should know going in?



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2 Answers

It’s tough to give a specific recommendation as to whether per diem or hourly is better without knowing the specific numbers of what you would be paid for each. However, there are some pros and cons between the two options.

 

Per Diem:

 

Pros: You can potentially make more money when you are paid per production. Ideally, you should get paid more per patient by making a higher percentage of the patient.

 

Cons: You don’t get paid when you don’t have a patient in your chair. Because of this, you may be encouraged to do more front office work like scheduling and confirming appointments. Your paycheck might not be consistent week to week depending on the number of patients.

 

Hourly:

 

Pros: You get paid for your time in the office. If you aren’t seeing a patient, but are still on the clock, you will get paid. You can spend your time stocking supplies, cleaning, or doing a number of other things around the office. Your paycheck will also be more consistent week to week.

 

Cons:You are potentially making less than you would if you are on straight production. Again, this really depends on the specific numbers you are being offered.

 

Negotiation Tips:

 

The most important thing to know for a negotiation is the numbers. To get a base of what you would make hourly, find out the average pay in your area. You can go to the California Employment Department website to find out the average pay for hygienists in your local area. When talking to the office manager or doctor, casually ask how many hours a week they expect the job to be. This way you can figure out what your pay would be when you’re paid hourly.

 

For per diem pay, find out how much you would be paid per patient and how many patients you would see a week on average. Do the calculation and see how this compares to what you would get paid hourly. Also see if there are opportunities to see more patients if you are able to schedule appointments. This would be a way to quickly increase your pay from what you might be starting at.

 

When talking to the office, let them know that you want to come up with fair compensation and propose the area that makes sense to you. If you want to have a consistent paycheck, I would go hourly. If you think there’s an opportunity to make more money by doing per diem, then go that route.

 

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!

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Another item to note is that in the state of California, per diem pay is no longer legal from what I have read and learned. Only hourly is legal. Offices get around this by offering a low hourly wage and adding a various daily bonus to total the same daily rate, guaranteeing a minimum number of hours, etc. Production is calculated by any number of systems that can be advantageous or not. Creativity reigns. Please correct me if I am wrong about this.

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