How to Land a Job as a Dental Laboratory Technician
If you thought a job interview started when you actually met the interviewer, you wouldn’t be alone — and you’d be wrong. For aspiring dental laboratory technicians (DLTs), the job interview starts while you’re still in school.
Strong commitment is as important as technical skills for professional DLTs. Whether you’re working a part-time job to pay for school, remember that you’re in the middle of a test run for the real deal!
Dental lab technicians are hired based on three criteria: work history, education, and demonstrated skill.
The hiring process for a DLT job includes:
- Resume and/or application
- In-person interview
- Benchwork assessment
Related resource: Why Creative People Make Great Dental Laboratory Technicians
A DLT’s work history
If you ask Matt Murdock, human resources manager at Utah-based Arrowhead Dental Lab, the DLT interview starts years earlier at your previous job and while in school.
“I want to know what the applicant has been doing the past two to three years,” Murdock says. “What did you do? Why did you change jobs? If you list a series of short-term jobs on your application or resume, we’re going to want to know why. We put a lot of weight on commitment.”
The HR manager points to an example of a great employee whose previous job was working at a sandwich shop. He’d been employed at the same place, making sandwiches and cleaning the shop, for four years. For Murdock, he was an ideal candidate because — in addition to graduating from an accredited DLT program — he had a history of stable employment.
There’s certainly a trend with younger workers changing jobs more frequently, which is understandable given the cultural shift away from working for one company for an entire career and collecting pension at the end. In many fields, younger workers are always looking for the next job. In fact, 36 percent of millennials say they will look for a new job in the next 12 months, compared to 21 percent of non-millennials.
Dental laboratory technicians are an exception to this trend. If you want a lab to invest in you, they will need to believe you are committed to them for the foreseeable future. If you’re aspiring to be a DLT, it pays to show long-term dedication to your job!
Related resource: Practical Advice for Your First DLT Job
DLT education and experience
Most DLTs graduate from an accredited dental laboratory technician program. Most DLT programs teach a variety of technician skills, including creating 3-D models on computers and work in several mediums, including wax, ceramic, and gold.
A DLT’s scope of work may differ depending on where they work. At a small lab, technicians may expect to exercise a broader range of skills. In a larger production-oriented environment, DLTs are usually in a more focused role, specializing only in one or two tasks in the lab.
Arrowhead’s Murdock hires for positions such as:
- Model technician
- Diagnostic or emax waxer
- CAD scanning or designing
- Gold finisher
- Metal waxer/finisher
At Arrowhead, recent graduates often begin working in mid-level roles such as diagnostic or cosmetic waxing, full-contour gold or metal waxing and finishing, CAD scan and design, and non-metal seating and core staining. More experienced DLTs may work with models and eventually work their way into ceramics.
Related resource: How to Succeed at Your First Healthcare Job Interview
Dental laboratory technician benchwork
The final phase of the hiring process for most dental lab technicians is demonstrating your skill at the bench. Arrowhead Dental, and most other DLT laboratories, ask applicants to come in and demonstrate their work for a few hours.
Bringing a sample of your work can be helpful, but it doesn’t give a lot of information since there’s no way of knowing how long it took or if you had help. Efficiency and quality are important factors, and the only way to see an applicant’s real skill is at the bench.
To learn more about becoming a DLT or our other healthcare career programs, visit our program page.
Ameritech’s Dental Laboratory Technician program is accredited and takes just three semesters!