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Dental Lab Technician Careers: Job Duties, Education & Certification

Find out about dental lab technician training and careers.

hands fixing tooth in lab
Home » Specialties » Dental Lab Technician

Dental Lab Tech At a Glance

  • What you’ll do: As a dental lab technician, you’ll fill orders from dentists for a variety of dental appliances. You’ll work with sophisticated equipment and a broad range of materials to create tooth replacements that are realistic and aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional.
  • Where you’ll work: Commercial dental laboratories, private dental offices, hospitals (including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospitals), dental schools, dental manufacturers and suppliers, private practice
  • Degree you’ll need: 2-year dental lab technician program leading to an associate’s degree or certificate
  • Median annual salary: $45,770

Full Job Description

Using a dentists’ detailed written directions, and molds of a patient’s teeth or oral soft tissues, you’ll make the following items:

  • Full dentures for patients who are missing all of their teeth
  • Removable partial dentures or fixed bridges for those who are missing only one or a few teeth
  • Crowns, which cover the tooth and are designed to restore its original size and shape
  • Veneers, which are bonded to the tooth surface to improve the appearance of discolored, worn, chipped, or misaligned teeth
  • Orthodontic appliances and splints used to help straighten and protect teeth

Dental lab technicians can also specialize in one of five areas: orthodontic appliances, crowns and bridges, complete dentures, partial dentures and ceramics.

Median Annual Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics reports the median annual salary for dental lab technicians as $45,770.

They list the following median annual salaries by state:

Dental Laboratory Technicians

National data

Median Salary: $45,770

Projected job growth: 12.2%

10th Percentile: $29,600

25th Percentile: $36,160

75th Percentile: $57,730

90th Percentile: $71,740

Projected job growth: 12.2%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $60,330 $37,580 $61,340
Alabama $37,710 $23,380 $59,970
Arkansas $45,770 $30,210 $60,550
Arizona $48,620 $29,610 $70,200
California $44,290 $29,430 $73,310
Colorado $46,780 $30,480 $61,430
Connecticut $46,910 $29,290 $60,750
Delaware $46,500 $35,610 $83,320
Florida $46,640 $29,010 $75,340
Georgia $45,960 $29,130 $65,660
Hawaii $37,460 $29,610 $48,980
Iowa $42,610 $30,010 $59,970
Idaho $39,110 $18,710 $76,940
Illinois $48,400 $30,020 $74,580
Indiana $43,190 $29,820 $59,770
Kansas $47,490 $30,160 $75,140
Kentucky $47,440 $29,780 $74,770
Louisiana $37,630 $29,910 $59,380
Massachusetts $38,730 $29,860 $77,730
Maryland $43,180 $29,780 $72,800
Maine $48,040 $30,420 $74,160
Michigan $42,300 $29,820 $60,650
Minnesota $48,990 $31,180 $70,250
Missouri $37,870 $29,610 $59,780
Mississippi $43,030 $26,040 $59,360
Montana $37,520 $27,590 $74,580
North Carolina $47,540 $29,950 $74,940
North Dakota $47,440 $33,880 $62,740
Nebraska $39,760 $29,460 $59,830
New Hampshire $47,660 $35,660 $60,420
New Jersey $48,660 $33,750 $78,860
New Mexico $42,830 $29,460 $53,730
Nevada $47,270 $37,570 $78,150
New York $47,940 $30,160 $100,750
Ohio $46,640 $29,880 $61,400
Oklahoma $37,150 $24,770 $66,020
Oregon $45,160 $29,110 $61,270
Pennsylvania $44,280 $29,110 $62,710
Rhode Island $46,910 $30,160 $61,810
South Carolina $38,420 $26,440 $63,320
South Dakota $38,160 $36,730 $50,060
Tennessee $37,490 $23,670 $58,450
Texas $41,320 $29,210 $62,780
Utah $38,680 $24,040 $79,460
Virginia $46,910 $29,820 $75,390
Washington $48,190 $36,520 $71,640
Wisconsin $38,330 $29,710 $56,300
West Virginia $45,590 $28,470 $68,140

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Education

Although each program has unique entry requirements, a high school diploma or GED is a standard prerequisite for applying to an accredited dental lab technology program.

Some dental technicians begin careers without a college degree, but you’ll find it’s easiest to start your career by pursuing formal training through an accredited program. There are 2-year dental lab technician programs leading to an associate’s degree or certificate; a few 4-year bachelor’s programs are also available. These programs are offered at community colleges, vocational schools, technical colleges, universities and dental schools.

In addition to formal training, you’ll find the following skills will serve you well in your dental technician career:

  • Ability to do precision work with your hands
  • Ability to work independently
  • Attention to detail and aesthetics

Dental Lab Tech Certification

There is no license required for dental lab technicians, but optional certification is available. Certification recognizes a dental lab technician’s knowledge and technical skills. It involves passing an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. In order to take the certification exam, you must have completed an accredited dental laboratory technology program and have had two years of professional experience, or, if you’ve been trained on the job or through a non-accredited program, you can take the exam after five years of work experience as a dental lab technician. Upon passing the exam, you become a Certified Dental Technician (CDT).