An orthodontal technician typically works as an assistant to an orthodontist. They receive their training through an associate's degree program or on-the-job. Certification is voluntary, but recommended.
Orthodontal technicians, also referred to as dental lab techs, typically work in orthodontics clinics, helping to create dental prosthetics, such as dentures, crowns or bridges. Individuals can enter the field with only a high school diploma, but earning an associate degree from an accredited college could be advantageous. Certification is also available, but it's voluntary.
|Required Education||High school diploma; associate degree for better job prospects|
|Certification||Voluntary certification available|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||11% for dental laboratory technicians|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$40,440 annually for dental laboratory technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Orthodontal technicians assist orthodontists with patients before, during and after orthodontal procedures. Their goal is to assist the orthodontist with providing patients with healthy and straight teeth, typically through the casting, shaping and forming of molds for a variety of dental prosthetics. Orthodontal techs commonly work with metal, acrylics and porcelain, utilize a variety of orthodontic equipment and cast alloys for tooth models.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of dental lab technicians is expected to increase by 11% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). Any growth may be attributed in part to increased demand for cosmetic prosthetics. In 2018, the BLS reported that dental lab technicians earned a median annual salary of $40,440.
Career opportunities for orthodontal technicians are generally spread evenly across the country. Opportunities are available in clinics and private practices. This field is best suited to those with an interest in patient care. Technicians who have completed a training program are expected to have the best job prospects.
Orthodontal technicians may enter the field with only a high school diploma, or may be trained through certificate or associate degree programs in dental laboratory technology. Employers may prefer individuals who have completed 1- or 2-year programs through postsecondary institutions. These programs are commonly approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. These training programs are available at technical schools and community colleges, as well as orthodontic or dental education institutions. Students interested in a career as an orthodontal technician may complete coursework including:
- Orthodontics procedures
- Workplace safety
- Patient interaction
- Medical or dental terminology
- Record keeping
- Orthodontics equipment
Certification for dental lab technicians, which is voluntary in almost all states, can be earned through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. This organization offers the Certified Dental Technician credential. In order to qualify for certification, students must have completed a postsecondary program in the field and must have earned at least five years of experience.
Orthodontal technicians work in orthodontics labs, creating dental prosthetics. They need no special training, as skills can be acquired during work, but may wish to pursue postsecondary training to increase their chances of securing a job. This is often preferred by employers, as is professional certification.