University of Wisconsin–Madison

Certified Dental Technician

 Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Certified Dental Technicians (CDT) or Dental Laboratory Technicians (DLABT),make dental restorations (metal and ceramic crowns and bridges), and other dental prosthetics.
  • They work with hand tools, molding equipment and other machinery to manufacture replicas of teeth and other prosthetics.
  • Dental Technicians have a high degree of manual dexterity and good vision because their work is highly detailed and delicate.
  • Some technicians may perform all the tasks to create crowns, bridges, dentures, and other prosthetics while others may specialize in a certain area.
  • These technicians work with porcelain, metal, plastic, wires, composites, and dental wax to create these molds of patient’s teeth.
  • They use hand instruments such as drills, laths, furnaces, vacuum mixers, and investing tools to fabricate prostheses.
  • Dental Technicians work in private dental laboratories, Dentist’s offices, hospitals, or dental suppliers.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Dental Technicians enjoy good working conditions and good salaries.
  • One must have good hand/eye coordination, manual dexterity, and an ability to work independently.

 Education: 1 year

 Patient Interaction: Low

 Physical Activity: Low

 Salary: $67,744

 Job Growth: Medium

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Helpful high school courses would include biology, chemistry, art, Metal & Wood, and drafting.
    • Shadowing a Dental Technician is recommended.
  • Education and Training
    • Some employers will train a person without formal training in a program; today that is very rare except in very rural settings.
    • Formal training in Dental Laboratory Technology is available through technical colleges or community and junior colleges.
    • Formal training programs can vary greatly both in length and the level of skill they import.
    • Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) offers a 2-semester, 16-credit technical diploma program. The curriculum includes dental terminology, dental anatomy and occlusion. Students acquire laboratory skills through hands-on experience in a dental lab.

    Educational Institutions

    Milwaukee Area Technical College

  • Method of Entry
    • A high school diploma or GED is required.
    • Most have graduated from an accredited program in Dental Laboratory Technology offered at technical colleges.
    • There is no license required for Dental Lab Technicians, but OPTIONAL Certification is available. Certification recognizes a Dental Technician’s knowledge and technical skills and is often a criterion for employment. It involves passing an exam administered by the National Board for Certification (NBC)in Dental Laboratory Technology.
    • Students enrolled in recognized Dental Technical programs are eligible to sit for the Recognized Graduate (RG) exam. Once a student passes the RG exam AND graduates from the program, he or she is acknowledged by the NBC as a Recognized Graduate. Recognized Graduates then have four years to take and pass the other exams required to be Certified.
    • The candidate for Certification must successfully complete three examinations, taken in any order, within a four-year period: a written comprehensive, a specialty practical, and a specialty written. Current Recognized Graduates may waive the written comprehensive exam. The five specialties to choose from are: complete dentures; partial dentures; crown and bridge; ceramics; and orthodontics.
    • All Dental Technicians who possess the required education and/or experience, have a working knowledge of the English language, and have not been found guilty of practicing dentistry illegally are eligible to become Certified Dental Technicians.
    • In order to take the Certification exam, one must have completed an accredited dental laboratory technology program AND have had two year of professional experience, OR, if you have 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.
  • Professional Organizations

    Alliance of the American Dental Association
    211 E. Chicago Avenue, Suite 730
    Chicago, IL, 60611-2616
    800/621-8099, Ext. 2865
    www.allianceada.org/

    American Dental Assistants Association
    140 N. Bloomingdale Road
    Bloomingdale, IL, 60108-1017
    630/994-4247 or 877/874-3785
    www.dentalassistant.org

    American Dental Association (ADA)
    211 E. Chicago Ave.
    Chicago, IL, 60611-2678
    312/440-2500
    www.ada.org

    American Dental Hygienists’ Association
    444 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 3400
    Chicago, IL, 60611
    312/440-8900
    www.adha.org

    Dane County Dental Society
    PO Box 6407
    Madison, WI, 53716
    (608) 222-8344
    www.danecountydental.org/

    Dental Record
    6737 W. Washington Street, Suite 2360
    West Allis, WI, 53214
    (800) 243-4675
    www.dentalrecord.com/

    Greater Milwaukee Dental Association
    www.gmda.org/

    National Association of Dental Laboratories
    325 John Knox Rd, #L103
    Tallahassee, FL, 32303
    800/950-1150 or 850/205-5626
    www.nadl.org/

    National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology
    325 John Knox Rd, #L103
    Tallahassee, FL, 32303
    800/684-5310 or 850/205-5627
    www.nbccert.org/

    Wisconsin Dental Association
    6737 W. Washington St., Suite 2360
    West Allis, WI, 53214
    414/276-4520
    www.wda.org

    Wisconsin Oral Health Coalition
    6737 W. Washington St., Suite 1111
    West Allis, WI, 53214
    (414) 337-4560

    www.chawisconsin.org/oral-health.php?pg=30

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 50
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 38,700
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 42,900
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 11%
Expected Annual Openings: 1,350
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $67,744

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

  • Dental laboratory technicians usually work a total of 40 hours a week.
  • Along with certification come more advancement opportunities as well and higher earnings.
  • Experienced technicians may teach or may take jobs with dental suppliers in such areas as product development, marketing, and sales.
  • In large dental laboratories, technicians may become department supervisors, laboratory managers, or laboratory owners.
  • For many technicians, opening one’s own laboratory is the way toward advancement and higher earnings.
  • Another possible career might include being a dental ceramicist.