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Dental Lab Technician Careers: Job Duties, Education & Certification

Find out about dental lab technician training and careers.

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Home » Specialties » Dental Lab Technician

Dental Lab Technician Career Overview

  • 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: $46,050
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What Is a Dental Lab Technician?

A dental lab technician plays a crucial role in creating dental appliances like crowns, bridges, and dentures. They utilize impressions or molds of patients’ teeth to fabricate these custom-made dental devices. While working closely with dentists, dental lab technicians have limited direct contact with patients, focusing primarily on the precise craftsmanship and technical skills required for producing high-quality dental restorations.

Dental Technician 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 Dental Lab Technician Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics reports the median annual salary for dental lab technicians as $46,050.

They list the following median annual salaries by state:

Dental Laboratory Technicians

National data

Median Salary: $46,050

Projected job growth: -4.5%

10th Percentile: $30,770

25th Percentile: $36,920

75th Percentile: $58,560

90th Percentile: $74,800

Projected job growth: -4.5%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $38,130 $23,890 $63,450
Alaska $57,140 $35,980 $73,980
Arizona $57,330 $32,330 $64,840
Arkansas $45,720 $30,950 $63,790
California $50,180 $34,630 $96,360
Colorado $48,080 $34,300 $70,150
Connecticut $46,520 $28,660 $61,880
Florida $47,210 $30,670 $68,760
Georgia $44,100 $27,340 $62,500
Hawaii $42,990 $29,410 $50,950
Idaho $44,140 $18,890 $80,710
Illinois $52,190 $36,590 $73,090
Indiana $40,190 $31,360 $58,440
Iowa $48,610 $32,240 $63,430
Kansas $45,800 $26,120 $63,210
Kentucky $51,640 $28,120 $84,570
Louisiana $44,760 $30,770 $63,610
Maine $53,700 $35,360 $92,490
Maryland $47,600 $36,050 $93,080
Massachusetts $45,780 $32,070 $92,660
Michigan $45,670 $32,560 $73,530
Minnesota $47,630 $32,240 $73,120
Mississippi $42,030 $25,200 $64,400
Missouri $38,990 $31,400 $58,800
Montana $44,720 $31,000 $76,610
Nebraska $37,700 $28,890 $63,840
Nevada $47,250 $36,000 $78,370
New Hampshire $50,140 $34,290 $66,040
New Jersey $47,900 $36,110 $61,660
New Mexico $46,620 $31,510 $55,050
New York $47,830 $36,310 $80,970
North Carolina $47,660 $29,120 $78,730
North Dakota $46,270 $27,470 $73,400
Ohio $45,480 $31,030 $75,990
Oklahoma $36,860 $28,850 $65,670
Oregon $46,860 $31,520 $73,770
Pennsylvania $40,610 $29,550 $65,590
Rhode Island $48,960 $33,120 $62,150
South Carolina $35,540 $27,010 $62,060
South Dakota $45,950 $37,410 $53,470
Tennessee $37,520 $29,760 $62,540
Texas $39,390 $27,400 $72,500
Utah $44,100 $29,180 $82,670
Vermont $54,140 $40,280 $93,000
Virginia $47,050 $28,870 $105,860
Washington $47,660 $37,420 $75,730
West Virginia $44,720 $35,190 $74,260
Wisconsin $40,450 $29,580 $59,120

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries may 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.


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).