Dental Laboratory Technicians

Construct and repair full or partial dentures or dental appliances.

Sample of reported job titles: Ceramist, Crown and Bridge Dental Laboratory Technician (Crown and Bridge Dental Lab Tech), Dental Ceramist, Dental Laboratory Technician (Dental Lab Tech), Dental Technician (Dental Tech), Denture Technician (Denture Tech), Metal Finisher, Orthodontic Laboratory Technician (Ortho Lab Tech), Porcelain Technician (Porcelain Tech), Waxer

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Read prescriptions or specifications and examine models or impressions to determine the design of dental products to be constructed.
  • Test appliances for conformance to specifications and accuracy of occlusion, using articulators and micrometers.
  • Fabricate, alter, or repair dental devices, such as dentures, crowns, bridges, inlays, or appliances for straightening teeth.
  • Place tooth models on an apparatus that mimics bite and movement of patient's jaw to evaluate functionality of model.
  • Remove excess metal or porcelain and polish surfaces of prostheses or frameworks, using polishing machines.
  • Train or supervise other dental technicians or dental laboratory bench workers.
  • Melt metals or mix plaster, porcelain, or acrylic pastes and pour materials into molds or over frameworks to form dental prostheses or apparatuses.
  • Prepare metal surfaces for bonding with porcelain to create artificial teeth, using small hand tools.
  • Rebuild or replace linings, wire sections, or missing teeth to repair dentures.
  • Apply porcelain paste or wax over prosthesis frameworks or setups, using brushes and spatulas.
  • Build and shape wax teeth, using small hand instruments and information from observations or dentists' specifications.
  • Load newly constructed teeth into porcelain furnaces to bake the porcelain onto the metal framework.
  • Mold wax over denture setups to form the full contours of artificial gums.
  • Create a model of patient's mouth by pouring plaster into a dental impression and allowing plaster to set.
  • Prepare wax bite blocks and impression trays for use.
  • Shape and solder wire and metal frames or bands for dental products, using soldering irons and hand tools.
  • Fill chipped or low spots in surfaces of devices, using acrylic resins.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
  • Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 86% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Time Pressure — 88% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 93% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 86% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 86% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 62% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 56% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 71% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 83% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 41% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 58% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 56% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 38% responded “Very important results.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 43% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections — 51% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 55% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 43% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 54% responded “Every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 40% responded “Important.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 53% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone — 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others — 24% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Level of Competition — 37% responded “Moderately competitive.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 53% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 44% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 51% responded “40 hours.”
  • Letters and Memos — 23% responded “Every day.”

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Education
These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
Related Experience
Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.
Job Training
Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, tellers, and dental laboratory technicians.
SVP Range
3 months to 1 year of preparation (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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Knowledge

  • Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 52%
     
    responded: High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
  • 18%
     
    responded: Post-secondary certificate required
  • 13%
     
    responded: Less than high school diploma required

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.

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Interests

Interest code: RIC
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

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Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$22.00 hourly, $45,770 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
33,100 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Faster than average (10% to 15%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
4,900
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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