California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Dental Laboratory Technicians in California

May also be called: Crown and Bridge Dental Lab Technicians; Dental Ceramists; Dental Technicians; Denture Technicians; Metal Finishers; Model and Dye Persons; Model Technicians; and Orthodontic Technicians

What Would I Do?

Dental Laboratory Technicians fill dentists’ prescriptions to design, construct, rework, repair, and adjust dental appliances such as bridges, crowns, dentures, and other dental prosthetics. Technicians create a model of the patient's mouth by pouring plaster into the impression and letting it set. They build and shape a wax tooth model, pour the cast and form the metal framework. Using small handheld tools, they apply porcelain in layers to mimic the precise shape and color of a tooth. Finally, they place the tooth in a furnace to bake. The final product is a close replica of the lost tooth or teeth.

Dental Laboratory Technicians usually work in clean, well-lighted, and well-ventilated laboratories. They generally do not work directly with patients. Most salaried Laboratory Technicians work 40 hours a week, but a few work part-time. Sometimes Technicians wear goggles, gloves, and masks. Technicians do most of their work sitting, but some may spend a good deal of time standing.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Dental Lab Technician may appeal to individuals who enjoy work that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often work under the pressure of deadlines. Individuals who like to work on their own and make decisions with very little supervision should enjoy this occupation.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Salary levels vary depending on the size of the firm and location. Beginning workers often start at minimum wage and can advance over time. Supervisors and managers can earn substantially more.

The median wage in 2016 for Dental Lab Technicians in California is $37,114 annually, or $17.84 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2016Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefit packages vary by company. Dental Lab Technicians generally receive medical and dental insurance, vacation, holidays, sick leave, profit sharing, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Demand for Dental Laboratory Technicians should remain stable. Since there is relatively limited public awareness about this occupation and starting wages are low, few people seek these jobs. Those with formal training in a dental laboratory technology program will have the best job prospects. The majority of job openings will arise from the need to replace Technicians who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force.

How Do I Qualify?

Although no formal education or training is required to become a Dental Laboratory Technician, prospective employers typically require a high school diploma. Most Dental Technicians learn their craft through on-the-job training. They usually begin as assistants and gradually learn new skills as they gain experience. For example, Dental Technicians begin by pouring plaster into an impression and progress to more complex procedures, such as making porcelain crowns and bridges.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

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