How to become a dental technician

  • Dental technicians make custom dental and restorative appliances, based on the prescription of a dentist. They usually design dentures, bridges, orthopedic appliances, and crowns. They use metals, wax, casts, and metals to create a tooth-like appliance. To become a dental technician, the basic requirement is a high school diploma, although certificate and degree programs are also offered.

  • Dental technician educational requirements

    Dental technicians need at least a high school diploma or GED to find work. Students who want to pursue a career in this line of work needs to take math, information technology, science, art, and wood shop courses. Many dental technicians, also called as dental technologists or dental laboratory technicians, learn on the job and get promoted as they accumulate more experience.

    Aspiring dental technicians who want to have an edge over their competitors in the field may consider getting a certificate or an associate’s degree. Working technicians can even take continuing education courses. Technical schools and community colleges offer certificates and associate’s degree in dental laboratory technology. Students must choose programs that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association (CODA).

    Certificate and associate degree programs provide classroom and clinical work. They discuss laboratory equipment operation, safety principles, plaster use, denture and bridge construction, science, math, and anatomy.

    Dental technician license and certification

    The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC) offers the Certified Dental Technician (CDT) designation, which is required in only three states in the US. However, many dental technicians still strive to earn it because it increases their marketability and employability in any state.

    Dental technicians may also earn a certification in specialty areas. They may choose to specialize in crowns and bridges, complete dentures, partial dentures, orthodontic appliances, or ceramics.

    The certification requirements include passing both written and practical tests as well as completing the minimum number of years of experience in the industry.

    Aside from getting a certification, there are other requirements for dental technicians to find work in the field. They must have good manual dexterity because they have to work with their hands a lot. They also need excellent vision and steady hands and arms even during extended periods of time. Dental technicians must be creative and detail oriented. To provide quality work to their clients, they will surely benefit from good time management skills. They also need good problem solving skills, oral comprehension skills, and listening skills.

    Dental technician advancement

    Dental technicians who have been working in large laboratories for years may get promoted to supervisors or managers. Some may find work in dental suppliers or even occupy teaching positions. Others start their own laboratories.

    All these hard work at school and in training pay off as dental technicians earn $42,129 in median salary or $15 in median wage in 2015, according to PayScale. This career is also ideal for those who want to start their own business.

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