What is CDT Certification?

Instructor: Melinda Santos
The Certified Dental Technician (CDT) designation is a voluntary credential that allows dental lab techs to prove their technical skills and knowledge of dental laboratory procedures. Find out more about requirements for this certification and learn where to find helpful study resources.

About CDT Certification

The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory technology offers the CDT credential in six specialty areas - which include complete dentures, partial dentures, crown and bridge, ceramics, implants and orthodontics - to individuals who meet education and experience requirements and pass a series of exams. Qualifications are outlined below.

Education and Experience Requirements

Individuals wishing to become CDTs can sit for certification exams after accumulating a minimum of five years experience from on-the-job training in a dental technology setting, through work experience or in a relevant education program.

Technicians who graduate from a two-year dental technology program approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) are required to gain only two additional years of hands-on experience.

Individuals who've recently earned the NBC's entry-level Recognized Graduate designation after completing an ADA-accredited program can take the certification exam without any additional training or experience.

Exam Requirements

CDT candidates must earn passing scores on comprehensive, practical and specialty exams to receive certification. However, Recognized Graduates with a passing score on the RG exam are not required to take the comprehensive exam.

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam contains 160 multiple-choice questions about dental laboratory safety, oral anatomy, dental materials, theories and terminology. Technicians have just under three hours to complete this portion. The test fee is $220.

To prepare for questions found on the comprehensive exam, check out the lessons on Study.com for a refresher:

Practical Exam

The practical exam focuses on a particular specialty area and contains two parts, each of which tests a technician's ability to perform various procedures. The first portion needs to be completed prior to the exam date according to instructions provided by the NBC. The other portion must be finished at the exam site under an NBC examiner's supervision. This part of the test lasts just over five hours. The exam fee is $455, which includes an application fee of $55.

Specialty Exams

Each specialty exam contains 80 multiple-choice questions that must be completed in one and a half hours. Individuals can earn certification in multiple specialties, but they would need to take the required specialty exams (along with the corresponding practical exams) for each area they choose. Specialty exams cost $220.

CDT Certification Exam Preparation

The NBC website provides a comprehensive list of study resources and CDT study clubs that can help candidates prepare for the certification exams. Study.com also provides some useful resources, including a career guide for Dental Laboratory Techs.

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