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Dental Technician School and College Degree Program Information

Read details about associate degree programs intended for prospective dental technicians. Find out information about dental laboratory technology studies, employment and salary information for dental lab technicians and what continuing education options are available.

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Essential Information

Dental technicians construct and repair dental prosthetics like braces, bridges, crowns and dentures. While some dental technicians receive on-the-job training, many employers prefer technicians with an associate's degree in dental laboratory technology. Dental technicians work for private medical manufacturers, laboratories, dental offices and schools.

Associate's degrees introduce students to materials and techniques used in fabrication of dental prosthetics. Students can focus on ceramics, orthodontic appliances, crowns and bridges and partial or complete dentures. The programs combine lectures and hands-on training through an internship or training labs. Prospective students in dental technology benefit from a strong health science and chemistry background. Dental lab technicians must also pay attention to details like measurements, and color matching; good hand to eye coordination is essential for any dental technician. A high school diploma is required.

Program Coursework

Typical curriculum in a dental technician school program includes courses that introduce students to dental laboratory materials, dental anatomy and orthodontic and pedodontic appliances. Many programs also have internship or laboratory assistant programs that provide hands-on experience. Typical courses include:

  • Orthodontics
  • Dental materials
  • Ceramic techniques
  • Dental laboratory practice
  • Crown and bridge

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Dental technician school graduates can find employment in commercial laboratories and as private contractors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, (www.bls.gov), reports that many laboratory technicians work in small private medical manufacturing businesses; others work in dental offices and specialized health care stores. Dental laboratory technicians can expect to see about 1% job growth in the period of 2010-2020. According to BLS, the average annual salary for dental laboratory technicians was $39,320 in 2012.

Continuing Education Information

An associate's degree is the standard for most jobs in dental laboratory technology. The National Association of Dental Laboratories offers a voluntary certification exam that allows experienced dental technicians to become certified specialists, thus providing them with the necessary credentials required to operate their own laboratory. Many dental technicians advance to management or supervisory positions with experience; others may teach or work in medical sales or marketing.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics