How to Become a Dental Laboratory Technician
Becoming a dental laboratory technician is a stellar career choice for anyone interested in blending medicine, technology, and artistry. Many people don’t realize what an interesting and rewarding path it can be. So how do you go from zero to sixty as an aspiring dental lab tech? Just follow these straightforward steps:
Find out why a dental lab technician career is right for you
Unlike many other careers in healthcare, being a successful dental lab technician does not require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to get started. In fact, it’s possible to launch into this stable and enjoyable career right after graduating high school. Parents who are ready to rejoin the workforce or those seeking a second career are also great candidates for this type of job: You can decide to become a dental lab technician at any stage of life.
But why wait? There are so many reasons to become a dental laboratory technician:
- It offers great work/life balance and a set schedule.
- It’s low-stress, interesting, and hands-on.
- It offers a pleasant work environment.
- It blends creativity and logical precision.
- It lets you choose to become an entrepreneur.
These are just a handful of the plethora of benefits this career track offers. Once you know that this is a possibility worth pursuing for you, it’s time to find your educational program and really dive in.
Related resource: Want a Work/Life Balance? Become a Dental Lab Technician!
Find a high-quality educational program
Wax? Ceramics? Substructure, Design, and Fabrication? They might sound like classes you’d find in a fine arts curriculum, but these are the titles of your core courses for learning how to be a dental laboratory technician. For anyone who has a creative streak and strong dexterity, but also needs the steady income not found in many other creative fields, the educational portion of the dental laboratory tech career is a rich and rewarding time. For example, gamers, jewelry makers, and sculptors will all find something to love in becoming a DLT. In addition to practical classroom learning, there are a few things to look for in a high-quality program.
First, smaller class sizes mean more individual attention. Look for a program with a good student-to-teacher ratio. It’s also important that your program take place in a facility that’s in keeping with modern scientific advancements. If you aren’t learning in a state-of-the-art laboratory, your skills might not have the same longevity in this technology-focused field.
Another thing to consider is how long your program will take. Many people don’t have the time or resources to be in school for years on end and need to enter the workforce as soon as possible. That’s why programs you can complete in a year, for example, are such a perfect fit for many aspiring dental lab technicians. Lastly, make sure your program offers financial aid if you need it.
Related resource: A Day in the Life of a Dental Lab Technician
Earn DLT certifications that will prove your expertise
Once your education is underway, you’ll want to start thinking about the certifications you will need in order to create the career you want as a dental lab technician. The Recognized Graduate (RG) test is the first place to start, and it is conducted by the National Board for Certification of the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL).
The other main certification for dental laboratory technicians is called CDT (or Certified Dental Technician), and is also offered by the NADL. Becoming a CDT involves both a written and practical exam. You don’t have to have your CDT certification to enter the job market, and some dental laboratory techs opt to wait until they’ve had some field experience on the job before pursuing official CDT status.
Related resource: Practical Advice for Your First DLT Job
Gain experience through your first job placement
An outstanding dental laboratory technician educational program will help you find work as soon as you have completed your studies. Make sure a dedicated career placement team will be there to guide you into your first job. Transitioning from student to professional is an exciting moment in the life of a dental laboratory technician, and is by no means the end of your education.
All of your foundational knowledge will be tested, and you’ll start to get a better sense of what a wonderful work environment dental lab techs enjoy. Once on the job, it’s important to ask a lot of questions, keep your workstations in impeccable shape, and develop a solid routine that fits in with the needs and workflow of those around you. Do these things, and you will quickly become indispensable to your team.
Related resource: 7 Qualities Every Dental Lab Technician Needs
Explore the DLT field and find your specialty
The ability to create accurate crowns and bridges is a foundational skill set for any dental lab technician. But one of the most exciting things about this career path is that once you’re out in the field, you can continue to be a lifelong learner by exploring specific specializations.
From dentures to ceramics to orthodontics to implants, there are many avenues for deepening your expertise and making yourself even more desirable in the dental lab technician job market. Each particular focus has its own certification test and status through the NADL.
Related resource: Understanding the 6 Specialties of Dental Lab Technicians
Becoming a dental lab technician takes drive and determination, and those who decide to give it their best enjoy a big payoff in job security and satisfaction. Do you think a career in dental lab tech might be right for you? There’s no time like the present to take the first step. To learn more, visit Ameritech College of Healthcare’s Dental Lab Technician Program page and follow us on Facebook.