Dental laboratory technicians follow orders and prescriptions from dentists to create dental appliances for their patients. Using precision instruments and specialized equipment, the dental laboratory technician works with a range of materials including gold, silver, stainless steel, porcelain and plastics. The dental laboratory technician constructs or repairs artificial teeth, fixed bridges, removable partial dentures, crowns, inlays, and orthodontic appliances, according to dentists’ prescriptions.


There are two ways of becoming a dental laboratory technician, and both require a high school diploma. The apprenticeship program involves on-the-job training in a commercial dental laboratory and usually lasts for three-to-four years depending upon the trainee’s ability and previous experience. The trainee receives a salary during this apprenticeship.

The academic program involves completion of a two-year certificate or associate degree program at a community or junior college, vocational-technical school, or trade school. The academic program provides classroom instruction and “hands-on” practical experience. A typical first year of courses will include chemistry, dental anatomy, metallurgy and dental law. The second year focuses on crown and bridge, ceramics, and practical laboratory experience.

The National Association of Dental Laboratories states that high school students interested in a career in dental laboratory technology would be more qualified for apprenticeship or admission into a dental laboratory technician program if they have taken courses in ceramics, sculpture, chemistry, physiology, blue print reading, plastics, and metal working. Also, employers and school admission officers more readily accept trainees or students who have a high degree of manual dexterity and a good sense of color perception, as well as an affinity for accurate and detailed work.

Applicants may be certified by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology after the completion of five years of training or graduation from an accredited dental laboratory technician program. In addition, there are three exams which they must pass.


Most dental lab technicians work in commercial dental laboratories while the remainder are employed by private dental practices or by federal and state agencies. There are also career opportunities available in education, research and sales. Dental lab technicians working in commercial labs may earn in the mid to high teens, while a manager, supervisor, or owner of a dental laboratory may earn considerably more. The job outlook is good for the next decade.


National Association of Dental Laboratories
325 John Knox Rd #L103
Tallahassee, Florida 32303
(800) 950 – 1150