What skills will I use on the job?
The dental laboratory technologist is considered the artist of the dental team. Working with a wide variety of dental materials such as waxes, plastics, metal alloys, acrylic resins (plastic) and ceramics (porcelain), you will design and fabricate dental restorations, crowns, bridges and dentures on the written order of the dentist. Specific functions will depend upon the wishes of the lab owner, the orders of the dentist or the specialty of the technician. Functions may include:
- pouring dental models in a variety of dental stones and plasters
- mounting set models on a variety of devices that imitate jaw relationships
- carving intricate tooth structures in wax
- casting wax patterns with metal alloys
- designing and fabricating dental bridges and dentures
- duplicating tooth color, form and translucency in porcelain fused to metals
Who will hire me?
PCC graduates have a history of obtaining employment within six weeks of graduation. Laboratory technicians are hired by both small and large commercial dental laboratories, some private dental offices and large dental clinics such as Kaiser Permanente. A successful, privately owned laboratory offers the greatest opportunity for high earnings, so small business courses are included in the program of study. Also, dental laboratory technology makes an excellent part-time or second job, and small laboratories can be set up in the home.
How much can I earn?
Approximate salaries in the Portland area range from $12 to $28 an hour for technicians. Wages are based on the quality of work and speed of the worker. If a new graduate has not reached professional levels of speed, entry-level wages may be lower but should rise as productivity increases.
Qualified technicians can also work their way up to becoming a department or laboratory manager, earning average annual salaries of $60,000 to $100,000. Some PCC graduates have also gone on to own dental labs. Lab owners average annual salaries of $100,000 to $250,000.
Wage information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Association of Dental Laboratories.