Because it involves a combination of science, art, and technology, dental lab technician careers fall under the STEM category. There is a high demand for dental lab techs, so if you have excellent hand-eye coordination, have impeccable attention to even the most minute detail, and have a strong interest in a nice mashup of science, technology, and art, then this could be the perfect career choice for you.
Dental Lab Tech Job Description
Dental lab technicians design and manufacture dentures and other types of dental replacements. They may also choose to specialize in areas like crowns and bridges, implants, dentures or partial dentures, or orthodontics.
As a dental lab tech some of your daily duties may entail:
- Repair damaged appliances.
- Figure out which materials to use to create or repair appliances.
- Hand polish and shape materials.
- Inspect your work for quality and accuracy.
How to Become a Dental Lab Technician
It’s very possible to learn to become a dental lab technician on the job. However, it will take three to four years to be considered a completely trained dental lab technician. If you decide you’d prefer to go to a trade school or community college for more formal training, then expect to do the following:
- You need to get your high school diploma or a GED.
- Enroll in a 2 year program where you’ll graduate with an associate’s degree or diploma.
- Get a job in a dental office or dental lab where you’ll receive more real-world training. This portion will take 3-4 years, even with your associate’s degree. But, you will be earning a paycheck.
The Certified Dental Technician (CDT) certification through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology is voluntary but employers do prefer it for their new hires. Certification also comes with the advantage of employment advancement potential.
If you decide to get the certification, you’ll need to have a documented five years of work experience to be eligible. There are three exams you’ll have to pass within four years.
How Much Money do Dental Lab Technicians Earn?
You can expect to start making about $29,000 as an entry level salary. When you’ve worked for a few years, the mean income in 2021 was $47,320, and after you’ve gained a lot of experience you could earn close to $71,000, that’s what the top 10% earned in 2021 on average. These numbers are strictly a national average; your salary will be dependent on where you work, what state you’re in, and your level of experience.