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Become A Dental Laboratory Technician

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Working As A Dental Laboratory Technician

  • Processing Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Repetitive

  • $38,951

    Average Salary

What Does A Dental Laboratory Technician Do

Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians construct, fit, or repair appliances and devices, including dentures, eyeglasses, and prosthetics.

Duties

Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians typically do the following:

  • Follow detailed work orders and prescriptions
  • Determine which materials and tools will be needed
  • Bend, form, and shape fabric or material
  • Polish and shape appliances and devices, using hand or power tools
  • Adjust appliances or devices to allow for a more natural look or to improve function
  • Inspect the final product for quality and accuracy
  • Repair damaged appliances and devices

In small laboratories and offices, technicians may handle every phase of production. In larger ones, technicians may be responsible for only one phase of production, such as polishing, measuring, or testing.

Dental laboratory technicians use impressions, or molds, of a patient’s teeth to create crowns, bridges, dentures, and other dental appliances. They work closely with dentists, but have limited contact with patients.

Dental laboratory technicians work with small hand tools, such as files and polishers. They work with many different materials, including wax, plastic, and porcelain, to make prosthetic appliances. In some cases, technicians use computer programs to create appliances or to get impressions sent from a dentist’s office.

Dental laboratory technicians can specialize in one of six areas: orthodontic appliances, crowns and bridges, complete dentures, partial dentures, implants, or ceramics. Technicians may have different job titles, depending on their specialty. For example, technicians who make porcelain and acrylic restorations, such as veneers and bridges, are called dental ceramists

Ophthalmic laboratory technicians make prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. They are also commonly known as manufacturing opticians, optical mechanics, or optical goods workers.

Although they make some lenses by hand, ophthalmic laboratory technicians often use automated equipment. Some technicians manufacture lenses for optical instruments, such as telescopes and binoculars. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians should not be confused with dispensing opticians, who work with customers to select eyewear and may prepare work orders for ophthalmic laboratory technicians.

Medical appliance technicians construct, fit, and repair medical supportive devices, including arch supports, facial parts, and foot and leg braces.

Medical appliance technicians use many different types of materials, such as metal, plastic, and leather, to create a variety of medical devices for patients who need them because of a birth defect, an accident, disease, amputation, or the effects of aging. For example, some medical appliance technicians make hearing aids.

Orthotic and prosthetic technicians are medical appliance technicians who create orthoses (braces, supports, and other devices) and prostheses (replacement limbs and facial parts). These technicians work closely with orthotists or prosthetists.

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How To Become A Dental Laboratory Technician

Dental or ophthalmic laboratory technicians or medical appliance technicians typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training.

Education

Ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. There are some postsecondary programs available at community colleges or technical or vocational schools in dental laboratory technology and ophthalmic laboratory technology, but these are not common. High school students interested in becoming dental or ophthalmic laboratory technicians or medical appliance technicians should take courses in science, math, computer programming, and art.

Training

Most dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians learn their skills through on-the-job training. They usually begin as helpers in a laboratory and learn more advanced skills as they gain experience. For example, dental laboratory technicians may begin by pouring plaster into an impression to make a model. As they become more experienced, they may progress to more complex tasks, such as making porcelain crowns and bridges. Because all laboratories are different, the length of training varies.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians must pay attention to detail. Technicians must follow work orders and prescriptions accurately and precisely. In addition, they need to be able to recognize and correct any imperfections in their work.

Dexterity. Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians must work well with their hands because they use precise laboratory instruments.

Interpersonal skills. Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians need to be able to work effectively with others because they may be part of a team of technicians working on a single project. In addition, they need good communication skills to ensure safety when they work with hazardous materials.

Technical skills. Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians need to have an in depth knowledge of how different tools and materials work. They also must understand how to operate complex machinery. Some procedures are automated, so technicians must know how to operate and change the programs that run the machinery.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is not required for dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians or medical appliance technicians. However, technicians may choose to earn specialty certifications because they show professional competence in a specialized field.

The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC) offers certification as a Certified Dental Technician (CDT). Certification is available in six specialty areas: orthodontic appliances, crowns and bridges, complete dentures, partial dentures, implants, and ceramics.

To qualify for the CDT, technicians must have at least 5 years of on-the-job training or experience in dental technology or have graduated from an accredited dental laboratory technician program. Candidates also must pass 3 exams within a period of 4 years.

The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABCOP) offers certification for medical appliance technicians. Technicians are eligible for the certification exam after completing an accredited program or if they have 2 years of experience as a technician under the direct supervision of a certified medical appliance technician.

Advancement

In large laboratories, dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians may work their way up to a supervisory level and may train new technicians. Some may go on to own their own laboratory.

Medical appliance technicians can advance to become orthotists or prosthetists after completing additional formal education. These practitioners work with patients who need braces, prostheses, or related devices.

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Dental Laboratory Technician jobs

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Dental Laboratory Technician Demographics

Gender

  • Female

    52.9%
  • Male

    44.7%
  • Unknown

    2.4%

Ethnicity

  • White

    77.4%
  • Hispanic or Latino

    11.7%
  • Asian

    8.4%
  • Unknown

    2.0%
  • Black or African American

    0.4%
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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

    40.4%
  • Polish

    11.5%
  • French

    7.7%
  • Russian

    5.8%
  • Arabic

    5.8%
  • German

    3.8%
  • Vietnamese

    3.8%
  • Mandarin

    3.8%
  • Italian

    3.8%
  • Czech

    1.9%
  • Cherokee

    1.9%
  • Hebrew

    1.9%
  • Cantonese

    1.9%
  • Carrier

    1.9%
  • Ukrainian

    1.9%
  • Korean

    1.9%
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Dental Laboratory Technician

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Dental Laboratory Technician Education

Dental Laboratory Technician

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Real Dental Laboratory Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Dental Laboratory Technicians Dean McNeel, DDS Fayetteville, AR Jun 05, 2014 $108,000
Dental Laboratory Technician Newtech Dental Laboratories, Inc. Lansdale, PA Jul 16, 2015 $105,341
Dental Laboratory Technician Newtech Dental Laboratories, Inc. Lansdale, PA Sep 21, 2013 $81,236
Dental Laboratory Technologist Blue Crane Dental Lab LLC Virginia Beach, VA Sep 23, 2013 $80,000
Dental Laboratory Technologist Absolute Dental Services, Inc. Durham, NC Sep 21, 2016 $72,000
Dental Laboratory Technicians Andy Dental Laboratory Andover, MA Jul 15, 2014 $69,077
Dental Laboratory Technician American Dental Designs Inc. Montgomeryville, PA May 18, 2015 $62,610
Dental Laboratory Technician Newtech Dental Laboratories, Inc. Lansdale, PA Aug 17, 2014 $62,209
Dental Laboratory Technician Newtech Dental Laboratories, Inc. Lansdale, PA Aug 12, 2015 $62,209
Dental Laboratory Technicians Bay View Dental Laboratory, Inc. Chesapeake, VA Feb 06, 2013 $60,000 -
$110,000
Dental Laboratory Technicians Par Orthodontic Laboratory, Inc. Laguna Hills, CA Jul 11, 2014 $59,091
Dental Laboratory Technician Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation Bethel, AK Nov 17, 2015 $57,720
Dental Lab Technician Richard M Lyons New York, NY Sep 25, 2015 $55,640
Dental Laboratory Technicians Summit Dental Lab, Ltd. Waco, TX Feb 06, 2014 $54,434 -
$80,000
Dental Lab Technician Ranah Kim DMD PC Newtown, PA Oct 24, 2016 $47,819
Dental Lab Technician American Dental Designs, Inc. Montgomeryville, PA Mar 11, 2016 $47,819
Dental Laboratory Technicians Grove Dental Clinic Falls Church, VA Oct 26, 2016 $47,500
Dental Laboratory Technicians Hi-Point Dental Lab, Inc. Rolling Meadows, IL May 01, 2013 $47,000 -
$47,200
Dental Laboratory Technicians Metropolitan Dental S.C. Berwyn, IL Mar 05, 2013 $46,966
Dental Laboratory Technician Alpha Dental Laboratories, Inc. Waretown, NJ Sep 18, 2015 $46,821
Dental Laboratory Technician Max Dental Lab, Inc. Annandale, VA Mar 23, 2015 $46,675
Dental Laboratory Technicians Songs Dental Studio Inc. Monterey, CA Aug 05, 2014 $46,500
Dental Laboratory Technician-Implant American Dental Designs Inc. Montgomeryville, PA Oct 09, 2016 $42,000
Dental Laboratory Technician-Implant American Dental Designs Inc. Montgomeryville, PA Sep 14, 2016 $42,000
Dental Laboratory Technician (Denture) American Dental Designs Inc. Montgomeryville, PA Dec 09, 2016 $42,000
Dental Lab Technician Newton Dental Laboratories Garden Grove, CA Nov 29, 2016 $41,538
Dental Laboratory Technician Parks Dental Orthodontics Laboratory Inc. NJ Nov 01, 2013 $41,260
Dental Lab Technician Studio of Master's Touch, Inc. Barrington, IL Dec 14, 2016 $41,080
Dental Laboratory Technician Ohkims Dental Rowland Heights, CA Mar 27, 2015 $40,706
Dental Laboratory Technician Assistant KJB Dental Lab, Inc. Stoughton, MA Sep 04, 2015 $40,414

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Top Skills for A Dental Laboratory Technician

RemovablePartialDenturesPorcelainCrownsCustomTraysAcrylicPastesDentistsDentalProductsDentalProsthesesDentalImpressionDentalAppliancesDentalDevicesNightGuardsFullContourCrownsSmallHandToolsDentalLabTechnicianCustomerServiceCad/CamDentalOfficesDentalProstheticsPlaceToothModelsLabEquipment

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Top Dental Laboratory Technician Skills

  1. Removable Partial Dentures
  2. Porcelain Crowns
  3. Custom Trays
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Instructed career technicians in advanced Removable Partial Dentures and Orthodontics.
  • Constructed all metal to porcelain crowns and bridges.
  • Plaster bench & fabrication of custom trays and wax bite rims for full and partial dentures.
  • Mix plaster and acrylic pastes and pour materials into molds or over frameworks to form dental prostheses or apparatus.
  • Crown and bridge work Payroll, computer work, filing, answering phones, communicating with dentists Errands, delivering cases

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A day-in-the-life of a dental laboratory technician

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