Cosmetic Dental Technician: Job Description and Career Information

A cosmetic dental technician uses different instruments to create aesthetic and practical cosmetic parts for a patient's mouth. Technicians use their artistic and technical ability to help mouths and teeth look and function more properly. Read on to learn more about the education, salary and employment outlook to see if this career is for you.

Career Definition for a Cosmetic Dental Technician

A cosmetic dental technician is responsible for making cosmetic prosthetics for dental patients. A cosmetic dentist sends technicians a patient's impressions or molds, and a cosmetic dental technician makes a model of the patient's mouth. Cosmetic dental technicians are responsible for making veneers, which are becoming an increasingly popular form of cosmetic dentistry. Veneers are bonded to teeth to improve the look of worn, chipped or misaligned teeth.

Required Education On-the-job training common; associate's and bachelor's degree programs optional
Job Duties Include making models and veneers for dental patients
Median Salary (2017)* $38,670 (all dental laboratory technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 14% growth (all dental laboratory technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

The field of cosmetic dental technology does not have standard education requirements, and a period of on-the-job training is a common way to acquire laboratory skills, first learning the basics, like making models, and moving on to advanced techniques, like creating orthodontic appliances.

Cosmetic dental technicians can receive their education and training through a 2-year program at a technical college, community college, vocational school, university or dental school. There are few 4-year bachelor's degree programs that offer training in this field. Core classes include dental anatomy, dentures and dental ceramics. The Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association is responsible for accrediting these dental programs.

Skills Required

Cosmetic dental technicians must be able to follow physical models of the teeth and mouth as well as written instructions so that the final product is exactly what the cosmetic dentist requested and the patient wanted. Technicians need to know how to use and understand cosmetic dentistry tools and terminology.

Economic and Career Outlook

As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for dental lab technicians is expected to increase by 14% from 2016-2026. Demand for certain prosthetics, like crowns and veneers, is predicted to increase, but for dentures is expected to decrease. According to the BLS, the median salary of a dental lab technician was $38,670 in 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Medical Appliance Technician

These technicians usually learn their skills on the job for constructing and repairing various types of medical support devices, such as supports, braces and prosthetics. Faster than average employment growth of 14% from 2016-2026 was projected by the BLS. They earned a median annual wage of $37,190 in 2017, according to the BLS.

Ophthalmic Laboratory Technician

On-the-job training is most common for ophthalmic lab techs, who make prescription contact lenses and eyeglasses. Anticipated growth in this occupation was good, with a faster-than-average employment increase of 12% expected by the BLS, from 2016-2026. A median annual salary of $30,960 was earned by these lab techs in 2017, per the BLS.

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