According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), much of the work dental technicians perform is learned on the job, but those with some vocational education tend to have greater appeal with employers (www.bls.gov). Some schools offer general degree and certificate programs in the field, while others provide specialized certificates that train students specifically for the National Board for Certification in Laboratory Technology (NBC) Certified Dental Technician (CDT) exam with a specialty in ceramics.
10 Schools with Dental Technician Programs
These ten schools offer programs that train aspiring dental technicians, including those who wish to specialize in ceramics:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Programs Offered||Tuition (2018-2019)*|
|Bates Technical College||Tacoma, WA||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate||$5,391 in-state, $10,889 out-of-state|
|Portland Community College||Portland, OR||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate||$4,340 in-state, $9,200 out-of-state|
|Pima Community College||Tucson, AZ||2-year, Public||Associate||$2,142 in-state, $7,458 out-of-state|
|Mountwest Community and Technical College||Huntington, WV||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate||$4,020 in-state, $10,224 out-of-state|
|Durham Technical Community College||Durham, NC||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate||$1,958 in-state, $6,566 out-of-state|
|Los Angeles City College||Los Angeles, CA||2-year, Public||Certificate, Associate||$1,220 in-state, $7,746 out-of-state|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||Milwaukee, WI||2-year, Public||Diploma||$4,589 in-state, $6,602 out-of-state|
|Kirkwood Community College||Cedar Rapids, IA||2-year, Public||Associate||$4,832 in-state, $6,120 out-of-state|
|Erie Community College||Buffalo, NY||2-year, Public||Associate||$5,575 in-state, $10,141 out-of-state|
|Pasadena City College||Pasadena, CA||2-year, Public||Certificate||$1,166 in-state, $7,548 out-of-state|
School Selection Criteria
Undergraduate programs in dental laboratory technology aren't hard to find at 2-year community colleges or vocational schools. Some points to consider when narrowing down school options include the following:
- It is important to find a program that is fully accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA).
- Prospective students should make sure that the program's curriculum coincides with their careers aspirations. Aspiring technicians may want to complete a general program, while experienced workers who want to take the NBC's specialty ceramics exam should look for a certificate program that provides specific preparation.
- Prospective students may want to find out what the pass rate is for graduates of the program on the NBC's CDT exam for ceramics specialists.
- It can be helpful to find out about the school's laboratory and clinical training facilities in order to ensure that students gain experience with industry-standard ceramics technologies.
Associate's Degree Programs
Associate's degree programs in dental laboratory technology can be completed in four or five semesters. They provide general training for the job, covering topics such as dental morphology and orthodontics while familiarizing students with dental materials and procedures, as well as lab management and professional ethics. Introductory and advanced courses in ceramics may also be available. Students are required to fulfill general education requirements. These programs typically take four semesters of full-time study to complete, followed by a fifth semester spent interning in an off-campus laboratory.
Certificate and Diploma Programs
Some certificate and diploma programs provide the same entry-level job training as associate's degree programs, but without the general education coursework. These programs can usually be completed in one year or less. At some schools, students may also be able to earn a certificate that provides specific training for the ceramic specialty exam offered by the NBC.
There are several training options for dental technicians who want to work with dental ceramics. Students should look for accredited programs that adequately prepare graduates for success on the specialty certification exam in this field.