How to Become a Dental Technician

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Dental Technician Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $35,760
Avg. Pay / hour $17.19
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 11%

Dental Technicians work in conjunction with dentists in order to help repair any problems with a person’s teeth.

Dental Technicians don’t deal with the typical responsibilities you would expect from a dental office employee.

They don’t deal with dental appointments, cleanings or cavities.

Their job is to create dental prosthetics such as dentures or veneers for patients who need shiny new teeth.

Because every person’s mouth is different, Dental prosthetics have to be made specifically for each patient.

Dental Technicians begin their work once they receive instructions, called a work authorization, from a dentist.

Along with the work authorization, dentists will also submit a patient’s detailed impression of their mouth.

With all that information regarding a patient, a Dental Technician will get right to work in order to create dental prosthetics for a patient.

A Dental Technician can perform all their duties

Education Requirements to Become a Dental Technician

Potential Dental Technicians need a combination of education and training in order to find employment.

Candidates can choose to complete a program from a variety of educational institutions in order to meet this requirement including: community colleges, technical or vocational schools or a dental school.

The American Dental Association (ADA) has approved of at least 24 programs that candidates can join in order to become a Dental Technician .

Through these programs, students will complete two years of formal education and training receiving either a certificate or Associate’s Degree at completion.

In addition, some programs offer a four year Bachelor’s degree in Dental Technology.

In addition, some branches of the military can also provide training to those who want to become a Dental Technician.

Candidates who take this route will learn by having on the job training.

A candidate who is looking to become a Dental Technician can also apply for certification through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC).

Visit: NBC Certification for more information regarding certification and the renewal process.

After certification is completed and approved, a candidate will become a Certified Dental Technician specialized in the following areas:

  • Dentures
  • Orthodontics
  • Partial removable Dentures
  • Crown and bridge

Dental Technician Job Description

A Dental Technician doesn’t necessarily have to interact with the patients they help; they can perform all their job functions by merely working with a patient’s dental impressions, molds or soft tissues.

With newer technology now available, some patient impressions are now able to be created digitally.

Their job is behind the scenes creating dental replacements such as dentures, crowns, bridges, veneers or orthodontic appliances and splints using the information a dentist has gathered about the patient.

A Dental Technician will take the written directions, called a work authorization from a dentist and use a patient’s dental impressions in order to create all the dental hardware to make a person’s mouth healthier and functional.

After receiving a patient’s dental impressions, a Dental Technician will create a model of the patient’s mouth using plaster letting it sit until it is dry.

Dental Technicians will then use the model in order to create prosthetic teeth for the patient.

A Dental Technician must have strong attention to detail in order to create specialized dental prosthetics for a patient.

Things can also get messy as Dental Technicians work with a variety of materials in order to make a patient’s dental hardware.

Possible materials Dental Technicians use include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Porcelain
  • Waxes
  • Plastics
  • Alloys, both precious and non-precious

Dental Technician Salary and Career Path

Beginning salary for a Dental Technician starts off at approximately $35,000 per year.

Upon gaining experience in the field, a certified Dental Technician can make upwards of $70,000 annually with supervisors making an average of $75,000.

Salary also depends on the location where a Dental Technician works; average salaries are national figures and vary between states.

Dental Technicians perform a very special job in their field.

They help create custom made dental prosthetics for patients with nonfunctional or missing teeth.

Dental Technicians not only help improve a person’s appearance, they play a fundamental role in helping their patients live a healthier lifestyle.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$45,950
New Hampshire$49,470
New Jersey$43,980
New Mexico$37,790
New York$44,910
North Carolina$44,320
North Dakota$47,780
Rhode Island$46,070
South Carolina$40,120
South Dakota$42,010
West Virginia$36,830
Puerto Rico$19,200
Virgin Islands$36,890

The top earning state in the field is Minnesota, where the average salary is $53,080.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Minnesota - $53,080
Massachusetts - $51,210
Alaska - $50,640
New Hampshire - $49,470
Oregon - $48,780
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Dental Assistants, OCC Code 31-9091, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dental technician?

Dental technicians are professionals specialized in making dental and orthodontic appliances.

They create crowns, dentures and other dental appliances prescribed by dentists.

Some dental technicians choose to specialize in one or more of the following fields: crowns and bridges, complete or partial dentures, implants, or ceramics.

They don’t work directly with patients and use digital impressions or molds of the patient’s teeth in order to create dental appliances.

Dental technicians need technical skills but also dexterity, patience, and attention to detail.

Usually, dental technicians work for dental laboratories but they may also find employment in hospitals or general dental practices.

How much does a dental technician make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for dental laboratory technicians was $43,180, as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary depending on the region, the employer and the technician’s level of education and experience.

Some dental technicians earn less than $25,000 while others make more than $65,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become a dental technician?

Dental technicians need at least a diploma in dental technology; if you want to further perfect your skills you may also pursue a bachelor’s degree in this field.

Apprenticeship programs are also available for dental technicians.

Many dental technicians learn through on-the-job training and finding entry-level employment in a dental laboratory can help you gain the skills needed for this job.

Tuition costs vary depending on the school and the educational path you choose.

An associate’s degree in dental laboratory technology will cost you around $20,000 a year.

What is the demand for dental technicians?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians is expected to grow 11 percent by 2018 to 2028.

The services performed by dental laboratory technicians will continue to be needed to help treat a variety of dental problems caused by poor oral health and accidents.

Moreover, as population ages, the demand for dental appliances is expected to grow.

How long does it take to become a dental technician?

The answer to this question depends on the educational path you choose.

An associate’s degree program for dental lab technicians can be completed in around 2 years while bachelor’s degree programs in dental technology are usually 4-years-long.

Certification is not required but those who choose to earn a certificate from the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology can have better job prospects.

To qualify for a Certified Dental Technician credential, you need at least 5 years of on-the-job training or a diploma from an accredited dental laboratory technician program and you must also pass three exams.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.