How to Become a Dental Laboratory Technician

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Dentistry is a complex field and requires the work of a variety of professionals. Dental laboratory technicians are trained workers that make and repair a variety of dental devices and prostheses.

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What does a dental laboratory technician do?

Dental laboratory technicians fill prescriptions from dentists and they make and repair a variety of devices including crowns, bridges, dentures, and braces. They often work with porcelain, gold, silver, stainless steel, wax, and plastic. They usually use impressions of patients’ mouths made out of wax or plastic. Dental laboratory technicians use many different types of equipment and tools such as electric drills, lathes, presses, and high-heat furnaces. Their overall goal is to create devices to improve the appearance and function of a patient’s teeth.

What kind of training does a dental laboratory technician need?

Dental laboratory technicians must have at least an associate degree in dental laboratory technology from a Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association accredited institution. Many dental schools, technical and vocational schools, and community colleges offer programs in dental laboratory technology. Most employers provide on the job training to enable new dental laboratory technicians to learn the required policies and procedures. New technicians typically start out shadowing experienced workers and they complete simple tasks. They move on to more advanced duties as they gain the necessary skills and experience. Many dental laboratory technicians gain professional certification by passing a comprehensive examination that is administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. Many dental laboratory technicians specialize in a specific area such as orthodontics, dentures, and ceramics. Dental laboratory technicians often complete continuing education throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a dental laboratory technician?

Employment of dental laboratory technicians is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing and aging population and increased demand for dental procedures will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be favorable especially for dental laboratory technicians with extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace dental laboratory technicians that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do dental laboratory technicians make?

As of April 2010, the average annual salary for dental laboratory technicians is $33,000; average annual dental laboratory technician salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a dental laboratory technician is a great choice for people with a strong interest in dental laboratory technology. Dental laboratory technicians must have a solid understanding of the procedures and techniques of creating a variety of dental devices. Good vision, manual dexterity, detail orientation, and excellent eye-hand coordination are necessary traits. Dental laboratory technicians must be able to work independently under little supervision. They must also be able to follow directions closely.

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