Dental Care

Dental Technician Career – Key Factors to Consider


If you are thinking about a dental technician career, you may want to know more about the duties you will perform on a daily basis.

You can learn more about this in our dental technician article in this series.

This article is designed to give you an overview of schooling requirements, as well as other information that will help you learn more about salary ranges and other financial aspects of your potential career.


General Work Description

If you start out your dental technician career in a large laboratory, you may only be responsible for pouring plaster into mouth impressions. These will be used by someone else to create the actual dental appliance.

At some point, you will be allowed to construct specific devices on your own.

For example, you might only work with crowns, veneers, or one subset of dental fabrication materials.

Typically, each specialty will also be accompanied by a specific job title. Individuals that start out in a private practice may begin creating many kinds of dental appliances earlier in their dental technician career.


Typical Work Environment

For the most part, you will find that a dental technician's lab is something of a cross between an art studio and a chemistry lab.

No matter whether you work in a hospital, private practice, or dedicated laboratory, you will usually be in a well ventilated, brightly lit room.

Typically, you will have access to polishing/grinding equipment, Bunsen burners, kilns, computers, goggles, gloves, and a wide range of OSHA compliant health protection gear.


Industrial Sector Outlook for a Dental Technician Career

Today, many dentists try to focus on preventing tooth loss. Nevertheless, a rapidly aging population will inevitably have a larger need for dental appliances.

Aside from this, cosmetic dentistry is becoming more popular as younger generations look for smile makeovers that require veneers and other devices.


How to Apply for Training

If you are interested in starting your dental technician career by attending dental assistant school, you will need to apply through the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS).

This is a centralized service that will distribute your application to accredited colleges. As may be expected, this will simplify the process for you, as well as the colleges that you wish to attend.


Educational Requirements

If you enroll in a degree program to become a dental technician, you will usually learn about dental materials, oral anatomy, appliance fabrication methods, and ethics.

You can usually receive this training at dedicated dental schools, community colleges, technical colleges, and vocational schools.

At the current time, there are at least 24 facilities that offer accredited dental technician career programs in the United States.

Even though program completion time varies from college to college, most take two years. Upon graduation, you will usually get a certificate or an associate's degree.


Post Graduate Considerations

After you obtain your degree or certification, you will need to sit for a licensing exam. This particular exam is given by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. Once you pass this exam, you will be designated as a CDT (Certified Dental Technician).

Typically, your certification will also designate whether you have enough skill and knowledge to create orthodontic devices, complete dentures, crowns and bridges, ceramics, or removable partial dentures.

As may be expected, you can obtain certification for just one of these five categories, or all of them.


Dental Technician Career Path

Even though you will not be working with the general public, there are definite career steps that will occur over the years.

After you obtain your degree, it will take 3 - 4 years of field experience before you are considered fully trained.

It will take almost the same amount of time before you will be able to consider yourself an accomplished technician.


Hours and Advancement Opportunities

While some dental technicians only work part time, you can easily work 40 hours per week. The average rate of pay for dental technicians is $34,000 per year.

Even though this may seem like a low number, there are plenty of employers to choose from. In many cases, specific employers, geographic region, and skill level will determine your dental technician career and your personal wage earning potential.

Individuals that work in a small laboratory or ones that carry out a larger number of diverse tasks usually command a higher rate of pay.

Depending on where you work, you may be able to become a supervisor once you gain enough experience.

From thereon in your dental technician career, you may want to branch out into sales, product development, or marketing. You can either stay with the same employer, or look for a different one.

As may be expected, if you have a dream of opening your own business, it is possible for you to build and run your own laboratory.

Regardless of the path that you choose, you will always enjoy the rewards and opportunities that come with being a dental technician.



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