Dental Lab Technician-Salary, Schools+Jobs Practical Guide

Summary about a Dental Lab Technician-Salary, Schools+Jobs

  • To become a Dental Lab Technician you need to have a HS or GED diploma
  • Dental Lab Tech Schools offer 2 year programs
  • To become a Certified Dental Technician, you need to pass exams provided by NBC
  • Average Annual Salary: $35,560
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,480,000

Dental Laboratory Technician – Education

To become a dental lab technician, candidates need to have a high school (or equivalent) diploma. Already at high school, those interested in becoming dental laboratory technicians really need to take courses in mathematics, science, art, and computer programming. There are vocational or technical schools that offer specific education programs, and more and more community colleges provide 2 year dental technician programs, but it may still be hard to find a good education in this direction, and most dental laboratory technicians learn their profession via on-the-job training.

Generally, they start out as laboratory assistants while they gain experience and acquire some highly advanced skills. As they progress, they may advance to performing complex tasks, for example making porcelain bridges or crowns. In case you would like to see whether you are fit for this profession, you may take a career aptitude and personality test at no charge!

Dental Laboratory Technician – Certification

One main organization provides certification for dental lab technicians so they can demonstrate their level of competency and professional skills. Certification is not a requirement for dental laboratory technicians, but is certainly recommended. To become a CDT (Certified Dental Technician), applicants need be highly experienced and pass exams provided by NBC (the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology). This organization offers certification in the six specializations listed above.

To be eligible to become CDT, dental lab technicians need to have no less than five years of experience in dental technology or on-the-job training, or be graduates from a properly accredited dental lab technician program. Applicants must pass three exams. The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC) additionally offers provides a ‘modular’ certification program that results in a ‘Certificate of Competency’. Dental laboratory technicians may acquire a Certificate of Competency in one of the six specializations by taking and passing a written and a practical exam on their specialization.

Dental Laboratory Technician – The Job

Dental laboratory technicians usually construct or repair devices such as bridges, crowns, dentures, or other dental appliances, that are enhancing the lives of patients. In general, dental laboratory technicians will use impressions (or molds), of patients’ teeth to be able to create these devices, and they usually are working closely with dentists, and are having only very limited contact with the patients they make the devices for. To discover if this career is for you, take one of our quizzes.

Dental laboratory technicians usually are using small hand tools, for example small files and polishers, and they are working with a variety of materials to produce prosthetic appliances. These materials may include porcelain, wax, or plastic, and they increasingly are using computer programs to receive impressions from a dentist’s office, or to create dental devices.

Dental laboratory technicians typically are working in clean, well-ventilated, and well-lit laboratories. Most of these highly specialized laboratories are relatively small and will employ just a limited number of workers. There are, however, laboratories that employ hundreds of workers as well. There are also dental technicians who are working in specialty stores that concentrate on personal care and health, but in general, these professionals have only very limited contact with patients or the general public. Dental technicians are required to follow strict procedures, for example wearing gloves, goggles, or masks, to perform their tasks adequately.

6 Specializations

Dental laboratory technicians may have several professional titles, depending on the field they specialized in. They may have specialized in six professional fields:

  • crowns and bridges,
  • orthodontic appliances,
  • partial dentures,
  • complete dentures,
  • implants,
  • ceramics. Dental technicians, for example, who are making porcelain and acrylic restorations (such as veneers and bridges), are referred to as dental ceramists.

Job outlook and income

The employment outlook of dental laboratory technicians is expected to remain stable. Cosmetic prosthetic devices, for example veneers and crowns, will likely become less expensive, so an increased demand for these products may be expected, and there will be a continued need for the services of dental laboratory technicians.

But what also can be seen is that these days, more people will be likely to keep their teeth than earlier generations because of an the use of fluoride, more visits to the dentist, and better education on dental health. This will result in less demand for dentures and dental prosthetics, resulting in a tempered demand for the professionals that need to make them.

The average annual earnings for a dental laboratory technician was $35,560 in 2015, and this is expected to remain more or less the same.