How Do I Become an Orthodontic Technician?

Explore the career requirements for orthodontic technicians. Get the facts about training and certification options, 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 an Orthodontic Technician?

As an orthodontic technician, you design and construct orthodontic appliances used to straighten teeth. Most orthodontic technicians work in laboratories, rather than directly with clients. The job often entails using a mold of a client's teeth to create whichever orthodontic appliance is requested by the orthodontist. You will need to know how to use the specific manufacturing and fine-tuning equipment to create these appliances, and you should be able to recognize imperfections or necessary repairs. Some orthodontist technicians do work directly with clients in orthodontic offices, making molds or assessing appliance fit. The following chart gives you an overview about entering this field.

Degree Required High school diploma; postsecondary programs are available
Training Required On-the-job training may be available
Education Field of Study Dental laboratory technology
Certification Professional certification in orthodontic appliances is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11% for all dental laboratory technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $37,190 for all dental laboratory technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Skills Do I Need to Become an Orthodontic Technician?

Orthodontic technicians may design retainers, clasps and positioners in a lab or create molds of teeth in an office. You'll use a variety of technologies and tools, such as computer-aided milling equipment, wax and metal. You should have good attention to detail and excellent manual dexterity; communication skills may also be beneficial when working in an office environment.

What Qualifications and Training Do I Need?

Most orthodontic technicians are required to have at least a high school diploma and many learn the specifics of their job through on-the-job training; however, there are training programs that could help you train for this field. Formal training programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and the American Dental Association (ADA) are offered by technical/vocational schools, community colleges and some universities. Dental lab technology programs can vary from 2-4 years in length.

What Certifications Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are no national certification or licensing requirements for dental or orthodontic lab technicians (www.bls.gov).Through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology there's a Certified Dental Technician (CDT) credential offered in six areas, including orthodontic appliances. You can qualify to take the CDT exam if you have five years of experience in dental technology or if you have completed an ADA-accredited training program (www.nbccert.org).

What Is the Job Outlook?

The BLS reports that employment for dental lab technicians is expected to grow 11% between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, the BLS reported that the median salary of dental lab technicians was $37,190. Of the nearly 38,000 jobs held by dental lab technicians in 2015, approximately 30,800 were held in the medical equipment and supplies manufacturing industry.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A dispensing optician will likely have a similar educational background and job duties to those of an orthodontic technician. However, dispensing opticians work in optometry offices to fit glasses and contact lenses for customers, rather than in an orthodontist's office or laboratory. Another potential career choice, if you are willing to earn at least an associate's degree, is medical equipment repair. Medical equipment repairers install or fix any type of diagnostic or patient treatment equipment.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Towson
  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • College of Health Care Professions

    College of Health Care Professions responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at College of Health Care Professions:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio
  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster

    Penn Foster responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster:

    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »