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Dental laboratory technicians make or fix dental appliances to help dental patients achieve better oral health or improved oral functioning. A technician could create anything from bridges to crowns or dentures, as requested by a dentist, but also repair these items or make adjustments. Often, they learn their skills on the job, but may be able to specialize in crowns and bridges, complete dentures, ceramics, or other related areas. While they need to be able to work with their hands, they also need to know how to use various types of technologies and equipment to create the needed appliances.

Expectations vary based on the size of the dental laboratory. In some laboratories, a dental technician performs every stage of the procedure, while in others they perform just a few steps or processes, which may lead them to specialization. For this reason, there are many different job titles available for dental laboratory technicians, some of which include dental ceramist, dental technician, denture technician, porcelain technician, partial design and survey technician, or crown and bridge dental lab technician.

Dental Lab Technician Responsibilities

Whether they work for a a small or large laboratory, dental laboratory technicians often have many of the same responsibilities. In general, they may need to:

  • Bake porcelain onto metal framework by using porcelain furnaces
  • Build and shape wax teeth
  • Determine the design of dental products to be constructed
  • Fabricate, alter and repair dental devices such as bridges, crowns, dentures, inlays
  • Test appliances to ensure conformance to specifications and accuracy of occlusion
  • Prepare metal surfaces for bonding with porcelain to produce artificial teeth
  • Polish surfaces of frameworks and prostheses

Dental Lab Technician Job Characteristics

Most dental laboratory technicians work 40 hours per week and usually have their own workbenches. However, the size of a laboratory can vary significantly from very small to large, and from just a few people to hundreds of employees. Here's what else dental laboratory technicians can expect on the job:

  • There is usually minimal contact with the public
  • A significant amount of time may be spent bending or standing, including at their particular bench
  • They may face certain health risks when handling various materials, but these risks can be minimized by following established safety procedures
  • Labs are typically well-ventilated, well-lit and organized

Skills that are preferred in good dental laboratory technicians include:

  • Manual dexterity
  • Good vision
  • The ability to recognize very fine color shadings and shape variations
  • Technical skills to operate different kinds of machinery

Dental Lab Tech Salary and Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following information about dental laboratory technicians nationwide:

  • Total Employed: 35,320, in 2014
  • Job Growth: 3% from 2012 to 2022
  • Average Salary: $40,140 in 2014

Those working in Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Montana had the highest mean annual wages, all above $46,000, in 2014. Individuals often can advance in their career by working in a large laboratory and becoming a supervisor or a person to help train new technicians, according to the BLS.

Education, Certification and Licensing

Most people enter the dental lab technician field through on-the-job training, although some community colleges and vocational schools offer educational programs. The Commission on Dental Accreditation in conjunction with the American Dental Association does provide accreditation for numerous dental laboratory technology programs at the postsecondary level. However, a high school diploma often is enough to start training on the job. According to the BLS, helpful high school courses include:

  • Art
  • Computer programming
  • Math
  • Science

Certification is not necessary to work as a dental laboratory technician, although six different certifications are available under the Certified Dental Technician (CDT) designation offered through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. These certifications include:

  • Crowns and bridges
  • Ceramics
  • Complete dentures
  • Implants
  • Orthodontic appliances
  • Partial dentures

Licensing is not needed to enter the dental laboratory technician field. However, those who work in other related occupations, such as the dental hygienist, do need to have state licensure.

Major Dental Employers

  • Laboratories
  • Health and personal care stores
  • Medical equipment businesses
  • Supplies manufacturing companies
  • Dentist offices

Resources

  • Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association
  • National Association of Dental Laboratories
  • National Board of Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology
  • American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics

Sources:

  1. Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/dental-and-ophthalmic-laboratory-technicians-and-medical-appliance-technicians.htm
  2. Dental Hygienist, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-hygienists.htm
  3. Dental Laboratory Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes519081.htm

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Dental Laboratory Technicians

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Dental Laboratory Technicians jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Huntsville 330 $32,720
Hoover 200 $35,660
Birmingham 200 $35,660
Montgomery 70 $23,900
Mobile 70 $32,910
Dothan 30 $32,720
Decatur N/A $28,980
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 60 $48,600
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Phoenix 960 $38,320
Scottsdale 960 $38,320
Mesa 960 $38,320
Tucson 170 $45,620
Kingman 80 $26,980
Lake Havasu City 80 $26,980
Prescott 30 $27,350
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 80 $38,290
North Little Rock 80 $38,290
Little Rock 80 $38,290
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 1580 $36,390
Los Angeles 1580 $36,390
Long Beach 1580 $36,390
San Diego 530 N/A
Carlsbad 530 N/A
Ontario 500 $30,740
San Bernardino 500 $30,740
Riverside 500 $30,740
Arcade 400 $39,840
Roseville 400 $39,840
Arden 400 $39,840
Sacramento 400 $39,840
San Francisco 370 $43,840
Hayward 370 $43,840
Oakland 370 $43,840
Santa Clara 190 $54,500
San Jose 190 $54,500
Sunnyvale 190 $54,500
Fresno 120 $33,040
Santa Rosa 120 $38,820
Santa Maria 100 $38,440
Santa Barbara 100 $38,440
Vallejo 90 $35,820
Fairfield 90 $35,820
Lodi 60 $33,060
Stockton 60 $33,060
Chico 50 $36,130
Salinas 40 N/A
Oxnard N/A $28,940
Thousand Oaks N/A $28,940
Ventura N/A $28,940
Bakersfield N/A $34,140
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Aurora 230 $27,780
Lakewood 230 $27,780
Denver 230 $27,780
Colorado Springs 90 $46,210
Grand Junction 40 $37,890
Fort Collins N/A $34,040
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 110 $39,570
East Hartford 110 $39,570
West Hartford 110 $39,570
Danbury N/A $29,700
Norwalk N/A $43,810
Bridgeport N/A $43,810
Stamford N/A $43,810
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 720 $37,730
Fort Lauderdale 720 $37,730
West Palm Beach 720 $37,730
Clearwater 660 $35,090
Tampa 660 $35,090
St. Petersburg 660 $35,090
Orlando 260 $30,530
Sanford 260 $30,530
Kissimmee 260 $30,530
Jacksonville 220 $53,250
Ferry Pass 180 $35,020
Pensacola 180 $35,020
Brent 180 $35,020
Daytona Beach 130 $29,000
Ormond Beach 130 $29,000
Deltona 130 $29,000
Gainesville 100 $34,610
North Port 90 $29,900
Sarasota 90 $29,900
Bradenton 90 $29,900
Tallahassee 60 $31,690
Marco Island 40 $37,850
Naples 40 $37,850
Immokalee 40 $37,850
Port St. Lucie N/A $21,750
Destin N/A $30,720
Fort Walton Beach N/A $30,720
Crestview N/A $30,720
Melbourne N/A $37,590
Palm Bay N/A $37,590
Titusville N/A $37,590
Lakeland N/A $37,800
Winter Haven N/A $37,800
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 820 $32,930
Sandy Springs 820 $32,930
Atlanta 820 $32,930
Gainesville 130 $31,990
Albany 50 $22,160
Macon 40 N/A
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 110 $34,490
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 130 $42,720
Coeur d'Alene 50 $39,740
Idaho Falls 40 $35,930
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rockford N/A $25,070
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Wayne 160 $37,660
Anderson N/A $36,250
Indianapolis N/A $36,250
Carmel N/A $36,250
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Des Moines 110 $30,790
West Des Moines 110 $30,790
Cedar Rapids 100 $35,720
Cedar Falls 50 $35,480
Waterloo 50 $35,480
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 70 $30,170
Topeka 40 $39,650
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 110 $41,170
Lexington 110 $41,170
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bossier City 110 $30,430
Shreveport 110 $30,430
Metairie 90 $32,410
New Orleans 90 $32,410
Baton Rouge 60 $33,700
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 70 $40,920
Portland 70 $40,920
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 220 $32,240
Columbia 220 $32,240
Baltimore 220 $32,240
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town N/A $37,710
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 820 $42,280
Detroit 820 $42,280
Warren 820 $42,280
Flint 90 $37,370
Wyoming 80 $39,670
Grand Rapids 80 $39,670
Saginaw 60 $33,020
East Lansing N/A $42,890
Lansing N/A $42,890
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 60 $43,960
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield N/A $25,250
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 60 $42,410
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 190 $33,680
Henderson 190 $33,680
Las Vegas 190 $33,680
Reno 30 $46,180
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 80 $41,130
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 50 $35,100
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 110 $49,500
Utica 60 $30,360
Rome 60 $30,360
Syracuse N/A $37,310
Schenectady N/A $39,640
Albany N/A $39,640
Troy N/A $39,640
Cheektowaga N/A $40,000
Buffalo N/A $40,000
Niagara Falls N/A $40,000
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 200 $45,100
Morganton 110 $35,140
Hickory 110 $35,140
Lenoir 110 $35,140
High Point 80 $35,410
Greensboro 80 $35,410
Asheville 80 $45,060
Salem 60 $41,180
Winston 60 $41,180
Fayetteville 40 $47,550
Greenville 40 $54,640
Wilmington 30 $21,250
Durham N/A $39,030
Chapel Hill N/A $39,030
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cleveland 380 $40,140
Elyria 380 $40,140
Columbus 150 $43,810
Dayton 140 $42,410
Akron 130 $37,530
Toledo 60 $37,100
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Tulsa 210 $37,910
Oklahoma City N/A $42,140
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 60 $34,290
Medford 30 $36,770
Eugene 30 $40,190
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carlisle 190 $34,160
Harrisburg 190 $34,160
Pittsburgh 160 $36,820
Lancaster 80 $33,490
Barre 60 $42,100
Wilkes 60 $42,100
Scranton 60 $42,100
Hazleton 60 $42,100
Erie 40 $36,440
Reading N/A $36,580
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Spartanburg 70 $34,720
Florence 40 $41,740
North Charleston N/A $36,130
Charleston N/A $36,130
Sumter N/A $49,420
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rapid City 50 $30,980
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 280 $29,930
Murfreesboro 280 $29,930
Davidson 280 $29,930
Nashville 280 $29,930
Jackson N/A $40,520
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 720 $40,470
Arlington 720 $40,470
Dallas 720 $40,470
Sugar Land 640 $31,470
Houston 640 $31,470
The Woodlands 640 $31,470
New Braunfels 240 $36,540
San Antonio 240 $36,540
Austin 90 $32,010
Round Rock 90 $32,010
Waco 60 $39,750
Tyler 50 $31,390
Beaumont 50 $32,530
Port Arthur 50 $32,530
El Paso 50 $38,770
Lubbock 40 $33,580
Bryan 40 $37,640
College Station 40 $37,640
Corpus Christi N/A $47,350
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 190 $34,000
Orem 140 $30,970
Provo 140 $30,970
Clearfield 70 $35,320
Ogden 70 $35,320
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington N/A $44,740
Burlington N/A $44,740
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 180 $43,480
Roanoke 60 $35,840
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 570 $46,610
Tacoma 570 $46,610
Bellevue 570 $46,610
Tumwater 80 $33,370
Olympia 80 $33,370
Spokane Valley 70 $43,400
Spokane 70 $43,400
Bellingham 40 $40,550
Richland 40 $46,780
Kennewick 40 $46,780
Silverdale N/A $43,550
Bremerton N/A $43,550
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 190 $39,880
West Allis 190 $39,880
Milwaukee 190 $39,880
Madison 140 $37,540
Appleton 30 $22,760
Racine N/A $20,820
Green Bay N/A $40,360

Most Popular Industries for :
Dental Laboratory Technicians

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 35,350 83% $33,700
Medical Office 6,090 14% $34,920
Government 580 1% $51,950
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Dental Laboratory Technicians.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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