Dental Laboratory Technician: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for dental laboratory technicians. Get the facts about job duties, education, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Dental Technician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Dental Laboratory Technician?

Dental laboratory technicians create crowns, bridges, dentures, and other dental prostheses for dentists based on prescriptions. This is accomplished by creating molds of a patient's teeth and basing the prosthetic needed off the mold. Specializing in one specific type of prosthetic is also possible, with options ranging from complete dentures to implants and more.

The following chart gives you an overview about a career as a dental laboratory technician.

Degree RequiredNo specific program required; associate's and bachelor's degrees available
Training Required On-the-job training is common
Education Field of Study Dental laboratory technology
Certification Optional certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11%*
Median Salary (2015) $37,190*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Dental Laboratory Technician Do?

The duties of a dental laboratory technician generally involve filling out prescriptions for a variety of prostheses and dental medicines. More specifically, technicians may make plaster or digital impressions of a patient's mouth and jaw, build dental prostheses with wax or other materials, and fulfill other tasks. As a dental laboratory technician, you'll have the option to specialize in a particular area of dental prostheses, such as dentures, ceramics, or crowns.

What Is the Career Outlook for this Profession?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental laboratory technicians should have a favorable job environment, due to lack of people interested in working in the field of dental technology (www.bls.gov). Employment was expected to grow by 11% from 2014 to 2024. Increased demand for cosmetic dental prostheses in an aging population is the primary contributor to this outlook. However, continuing dental fabrication technology advancements will have adverse effect on this growth in the future.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

Those interested in becoming dental laboratory technicians generally require some formal training and education. You could earn a Bachelor of Science in Dental Technology or a related associate degree. An associate degree in dental technology may introduce you to dentures (complete and partial) dental morphology, fixed prosthodontics, dental technology, infectious disease control, and dental ceramics.

In some instances, dental lab techs need to be certified for work. The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology is one such example (www.nbccert.org). The organization offers a Certified Dental Technician (CDT) designation can be yours with the appropriate training, work experience or a combination thereof and by passing the relevant examinations. The certification examinations include a general written exam plus a written and a practical exam in your specialty area (ceramics, orthodontics, dentures, and crowns are among your specialization options). While licensing is certification isn't required in very many states, having the CDT designation can give you a leg up when vying for jobs.

What Are Some Related Careers?

Medical equipment repairers have a similar job to dental laboratory technicians, using their skills to maintain, repair, and install various pieces of equipment used in healthcare facilities. The standard academic requirement for this career is an associate's degree. Dispensing opticians fit eyewear based on a patient's prescription, as well as help people choose the kind of glasses frames and contact lenses they wish to wear. While this career only requires a high school diploma coupled with on-the-job training, some opticians hold a certificate or an associate's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • The George Washington University

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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Keiser University

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  • Independence University

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  • Herzing University

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  • College of Health Care Professions

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    • Certificates

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    • Texas: Austin, Houston, San Antonio
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