Dental Lab Technician Jobs

Dental Lab Technician Job Description

In general, dental lab technicians fill prescriptions from dentists. This role could involve the following specific tasks or responsibilities:

  • Constructing and repairing dentures/false teeth, crowns, crowns, and other dental prosthetics that dentists order for their patients
  • Preparing impression trays and wax bite-blocks for use
  • Using a variety of tools and equipment to create molds and prosthetics
  • Using hand tools for shaping and carving purposes
  • Melting metals or mixing porcelain, acrylic, or plaster pastes
  • Using lathes, presses, electric drills, and/or high-heat furnaces in order to complete a prosthetic
  • Using micrometers and articulators to test appliances
  • Working from a dentist’s specific, written instructions
  • Working with wax, plastic, plaster, porcelain, gold, and/or other metals
  • Working from wax or plastic impressions of a patient’s mouth/teeth

Some dental lab technicians choose to specialize in a particular prosthetic, for example, bridges and crowns. Additionally, a dental lab tech can choose to specialize in a particular material, for example, porcelain. For the most part, these specialists are employed in larger labs, while the techs that work in smaller labs take on any and all laboratory work that’s needed.

A successful dental lab technician has the following skills/characteristics:

  • Excellent vision
  • Good color sense
  • Enjoy detail work
  • Patience
  • Excellent manual dexterity

What Do Dental Lab Techs Have to Know?

For the most part, a person can become a dental with only a high school diploma. However, having taken classes such as ceramics, art, chemistry, and metalwork will help a high school graduate have an edge over job competition.

Many times, a dental lab technician is trained on the job or while in an apprenticeship. Apprentices receive training both in the classroom and on the job. Beginner technicians typically start out by taking on the simplest tasks such as mixing plaster. For the most part, training lasts between three and four years.

Additionally, a growing number of dental laboratory technicians have begun entering formal training after graduating from high school. In general, these training programs last for approximately two years. After classroom training is complete, the technician will then go on to have three years of practical experience.

To give yourself more of an advantage when applying for jobs, you may want to consider becoming certified. Certification is acquired after tests given by the National Association of Dental Laboratories’ National Board for Certification are passed.

What Do Dental Lab Techs Earn?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average dental laboratory technician earned an hourly salary of $14.93 in May 2004. However, dental lab techs can earn more than this depending upon his or her training and experience. Additionally, it’s important to note that self-employed dental lab technicians tend to earn more than those techs employed in dental offices.

If you enjoy working with your hands and would like to enter the dental health industry, consider training for a career as a dental lab technician.

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