Guide To Becoming a Dental Laboratory Technician

To qualify for the CDT credential, technicians must meet educational requirements and pass two written exams and one practical exam. The educational requirement may be obtained through graduation from a dental technology program or at least five years of experience as a Dental Laboratory Technician.

How to Become a Dental Lab Technician

Average salary for dental laboratory technicians

The number of years of experience, level of education, and area of specialization of a dental laboratory technician can all affect their pay. The size and location of the employer also have an impact on the employee’s earning potential.

What does a dental laboratory technician do?

Dental laboratory technicians, also known as dental technicians, are in charge of creating dental prostheses or replacement devices that serve to replace natural teeth. The complex abilities of a dental laboratory technician are required in two different branches of dentistry:

Restorative dentistry

This field of dentistry, also known as “prosthodontics,” is employed when a patient loses all or a portion of a tooth and requires a replacement tooth to restore normal function. This specialty of dental laboratory technicians makes full and partial sets of dentures, crowns, and veneers.


This specialty involves adjusting, removing, or stabilizing misaligned teeth, which can cause pain and reduced function. This specialty’s dental laboratory technicians produce braces, retainers, and other alternative aligners.

The role of a dental laboratory technician typically involves:

Dental laboratory technician requirements

To work as a dental laboratory technician, you must meet the following requirements as a qualified healthcare professional:

How to become a dental laboratory technician

You can take the following actions to launch a fruitful career as a dental laboratory technician:

1. Earn your high school diploma or GED

You must complete high school and receive a diploma, or the GED equivalent, in order to begin a career as a dental laboratory technician. This is a requirement to enroll in a program for dental laboratory technicians. Depending on the institution, some demand a minimum grade point average of 2 in high school. 5. Review the enrollment prerequisites for the programs you’re interested in.

2. Complete a dental laboratory technician program

By selecting a dental laboratory technician program that has been approved by the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation, you can make sure that your training is thorough and up to industry standards. In some states, these courses may be provided by the military, various community colleges and universities, hospitals, and specialized vocational schools.

These programs can differ in length. There are a few programs that offer a four-year baccalaureate program in dental technology or dental laboratory technology, along with a one-year postsecondary certificate course and a two-year associates degree program.

Training for skills like making crowns, bridges, and dentures, working with a variety of materials like metals, ceramics, and wax, and using manufacturing processes and technologies like CAD scanning and design are all covered in dental laboratory technician programs.

3. Gain professional certifications

Dental laboratory technicians can demonstrate their industry knowledge and fine skills by earning one of the many voluntary certifications available. Obtaining these credentials can assist you in finding work, developing your career, and even raising your earning potential.

Dental laboratory technicians can obtain certifications from the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology, which also manages them. Six dental laboratory technology specialties are available for certification, including:

After passing the test, you receive the designation of Certified Dental Technician (CDT) in the chosen specialty. A written comprehensive exam, a written specialty exam, and a practical exam specific to your specialty make up the exam. You have four years to finish all three exams, and you can take them in any order.

4. Develop key soft skills

You should work to improve and develop the skills you will need for your career throughout your education and practical training. These include:

To ensure a prosthesis fits the patient’s needs and is comfortable, these professionals must pay close attention to detail. Having a thorough understanding of the mouth and teeth can help you produce work that is flawless and fits perfectly.

They are able to work with small objects, specialized tools, technology, and materials by using effective dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Through your practical experience, such as an internship, an apprenticeship, or a position at the entry level, you can learn this skill.

To create individualized dental aligners and replacements, these experts combine artistic skills and creative thinking with medical science and technology. You must use a variety of materials to sculpt these prostheses like an artist in order for each one to be distinctive.

You might work in a tiny office with just one or two other dental lab technicians, or you might be a part of a sizable team of technicians. However, you will probably be working entirely independently on each order, so you must be accountable and manage your time without much supervision.

5. Prepare your resume and cover letter

You are prepared to submit job applications for positions as a dental laboratory technician once you have obtained the necessary education, credentials, and soft skills. Make a resume and cover letter that include information about your training, work experience, and certifications. Use the language from the job description in your resume and cover letter to customize them for each application and better align your qualifications.

FAQs about becoming a dental laboratory technician

These frequently asked questions may help you learn more if you’re considering working as a dental laboratory technician:

Where are the working conditions for dental laboratory technicians?

Although self-employed technicians may work longer hours, the majority of dental laboratory technicians work full-time hours on a standard 40-hour workweek schedule. Employers are typically commercial dental labs with nine or fewer personnel, although there are large labs with hundreds of technicians based in a single large structure.

Each employee has a workbench with hand tools, a Bunsen burner, and equipment for grinding and polishing in the clean, well-lit, and well-ventilated laboratories.

What opportunities exist to advance in this career?

Opportunities for career advancement are impacted by the employer’s size. It may be possible to advance in the larger laboratories to a supervisory position, which carries more responsibility and allows the incumbent to mentor new or less experienced employees.

After gaining experience, you might be able to work as a lecturer or practical instructor for a dental laboratory technician teaching program.

What are some alternative career choices?

There are numerous professions that require abilities similar to those of a dental laboratory technician, including:

Primary responsibilities: An assembler must assemble or put together parts or pieces in accordance with a set of plans while ensuring that the proper quantities of components are used.

Primary responsibilities: A patient care technician assists medical personnel in providing care for patients by observing, documenting, and communicating the patient’s needs and concerns.

Primary responsibilities include identifying and diagnosing illnesses, checking for illegal substances, or assisting researchers in the development of cures and medications.


What is required before a dental laboratory technician?

High-school diploma or a GED. Certification from an accredited, two-year dental laboratory technician program. Optional Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Technology. Certifications in a specialty area of dentition if required.

What are the 2 types of dental technicians?

Using a dental impression of a patient’s teeth, dental technicians create dental prostheses. A dental laboratory technician, also known as a “dental technician,” produces appliances and prosthetic dental parts, such as dentures and bridges, as directed by dentists.

What do you do in a dental laboratory?

In order to create crowns, bridges, dentures, and other dental appliances, dental laboratory technicians take impressions or molds of a patient’s teeth. Although they collaborate closely with dentists, they rarely interact with patients.

What is a dental lab ceramist?

A person who crafts dental prosthetics for patients is known as a dental ceramist. These prosthetics can include crowns, bridgework, and veneers. Most ceramists do not manufacture or create full-blown dentures.

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