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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:
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.
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Dental Laboratory Technician
Top Careers After Dental Laboratory Technician
Hispanic or Latino11.7%
Black or African American0.4%
Dental Laboratory Technician
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Community College of the Air Force13.7%
Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne9.5%
Kirkwood Community College8.4%
Erie Community College6.3%
University of Phoenix6.3%
J Sargeant Reynolds Community College4.2%
Durham Technical Community College4.2%
Diablo Valley College4.2%
Portland Community College4.2%
Southern New Hampshire University4.2%
School of Health4.2%
Grand Canyon University4.2%
Ferris State University3.2%
Bluegrass Community and Technical College3.2%
University of North Alabama3.2%
University of Central Arkansas3.2%
University of Nevada - Las Vegas3.2%
University of Texas at San Antonio3.2%
Dental Laboratory Technician
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|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 -
|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 -
|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 -
|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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A day-in-the-life of a dental laboratory technician