Those interested in attending accredited dental lab technician schools must have earned high school diplomas or the equivalent. High school students may benefit by focusing on classes involving science, drafting, art and wood shop. Those who want to own their own businesses should take management and mathematics courses as well.
The coursework involved within a dental lab technician school is designed to teach students how to follow dentists' written instructions and create perfectly shaped dental prosthetics. Classes are offered in subjects including the following:
Dental Laboratory Technology
Dental Laboratory Technology is both a science and an art. Since each dental patient's needs are different, the duties of a dental laboratory technician are comprehensive and varied. Although dental technicians seldom work directly with patients, except under the direction of a licensed dentist, they are valuable members of the dental care team. They work directly with dentists by following detailed written instructions and using impressions (molds) of the patient's teeth or oral soft tissues to create:
Flexibility: Dental laboratory technology is a flexible career offering several opportunities for advancement. Experienced technicians can find well-paid positions in commercial laboratories based on their technical or communication skills, become department heads in larger laboratories where they would have supervisory responsibilities, or potentially own their own laboratory.
Independence: Technicians perform much of their work without close supervision. They often experience the satisfaction that results from taking an entire project from start to finish.
Creativity: Dental laboratory technology requires the skill and touch of an artist. Technicians need to be creative when they make prostheses.
Security: The services performed by dental technicians will always be needed. With the population growing older, there will be a continued demand for prostheses which improve these individuals' nutrition, appearance and ability to speak clearly.
Personal fulfillment: Dental technicians experience the satisfaction that they help to provide a valued health care service and positively affecting patients' oral health and self image. Technicians play a significant role in the delivery of dental health care and take pride from producing a hand-crafted product.
With advancements in technology and materials, there is an increased demand for restorative and cosmetic dentistry. As a result, there currently is a great demand for dental laboratory technicians. Employment opportunities will be excellent in the coming years with the advent of many new dental colleges and professionally managed dental clinic chains.
The salary of a dental laboratory technician depends primarily upon the skills demonstrated and responsibilities associated with the specific position and the geographic location of employment. Dental technicians can earn salaries equal to personnel in other health care occupations with similar training and experience. Experienced technicians can realize significant satisfaction and rewards in commercial laboratories or may choose to be self-employed, opening their own dental laboratories for greater independence.