Interview With Dental Lab Tech Instructor Peter Shull
Peter Shull has been on both sides of Ameritech’s classrooms. He started as a student, studying at Utah’s only accredited Dental Laboratory Technician program, and then entered the workforce as a lab tech. He loved the job, but after getting an offer to become an instructor at Ameritech, he went back to his former college to teach. He spoke with us about how he got involved in the field, the challenges of being a DLT, and what’s rewarding about the job.
How did you decide to be a DLT? What led you to the field?
Growing up, I worked a bunch of different jobs. I really liked working with my hands, but I didn’t want to be like my dad, who’s a stonemason. He’s all hunched over and his body is broken. But I really like that satisfaction of having products at the end of the day and making something that’s useful and cool.
I also wanted to have a job and a career that contributed positively to society. I didn’t want to feel scummy at the end of the day. I’ve had jobs like that. I wanted to be proud of what I did.
I started talking to all of my friends and acquaintances. I was pretty young at the time and I was asking what their parents did. I asked if they made good money and were happy with their careers. I talked to a friend whose dad worked at a dental lab. I’d never heard of that job before, so I started researching it, and that led me into the field.
Related resource: How to Make a Difference: Dental Laboratory Technician Edition
Why did you choose Ameritech for your DLT program?
While I was researching the career field in general, I was calling and emailing labs and talking to them. Almost all of them recommended Ameritech to me. That led to me looking into Ameritech. I went on a tour of the program and the building, met the instructors, and liked what I saw. During my research, I saw that it’s one of the only schools that has a dental lab technician program as well, so it was kind of a no-brainer.
What were the most challenging parts of being a DLT?
The hard thing about it is that it’s really difficult to learn, mostly because it takes a lot of practice. It’s not something that you can just read about in a book and be good at. You have to fail a lot, and you have to put the time in and have the patience for it. So that’s difficult. And there are always new things to learn. New materials and new technologies are coming out all the time, like CAD/CAM [computer-aided design/manufacturing]. That’s what I specialized in when I was still in a production setting.
Related resource: Dental Laboratory Tools and How to Use Them
What’s rewarding about being a DLT?
I liked that I was helping people. I was making things that were making people look better and relieving pain. I really liked that aspect of it. I liked that I was contributing in a positive way. But at the same time, I didn’t have to deal with cranky customers. I could just focus on what I was doing and have privacy at work. I really liked that environment. It was good for me.
At the lab I worked at, we had people who had their whole mouths redone. They saw themselves in the mirror and would just cry. It’s such a life-changing thing for them. I loved going to work every day.
Leaving the lab and becoming an instructor was one of the most difficult decisions of my life so far. I loved being able to go in every day and just focus on my work. I loved that I could be creative and learn new things. I never felt stagnant in my career or in my life. I loved that at the end of the day I had something I could show for my hard work.
And I loved that I could listen to audiobooks and podcasts all day long.
Related resource: A Day in the Life of a Dental Laboratory Technician
How did you go about becoming a DLT instructor?
That was something I never planned for. Being an instructor was never one of my career goals, and I was really surprised when I got the call telling me that I was being considered to be an instructor. But my education at Ameritech completely changed my life. I went from dead-end jobs and not a lot of hope in the future to having a career and being able to make enough money to be financially stable and start a family.
I have a lot of love for Ameritech and the opportunity it granted me, so being able to be a part of it, be an instructor here, am something I am very excited about. It’s something that motivates me every day coming in, to give that experience to other students.
Related resource: Gamers Wanted: Why You Should Consider a Career as a DLT
What advice or guidance do you have for new DLTs?
You play like you practice. A lot of people go through this program, and the ones who work hard and have the best attendance are the ones who make the most money and have the best jobs after graduating.
Are you considering a career as a dental lab tech? Take a moment to learn more about Utah’s only accredited dental laboratory technician program, and keep in touch with the Ameritech community on Facebook.