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Career and Education Opportunities for Dental Laboratory Technicians in Seattle, Washington

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for dental laboratory technicians in the Seattle, Washington area. Currently, 1,200 people work as dental laboratory technicians in Washington. This is expected to grow by 7% to 1,280 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for dental laboratory technicians are expected to grow by about 13.9%. Dental laboratory technicians generally construct and repair full or partial dentures or dental appliances.

Dental laboratory technicians earn about $17 hourly or $37,220 yearly on average in Washington and about $16 per hour or $34,170 per year on average nationally. Incomes for dental laboratory technicians are better than in the overall category of Medical and Dental in Washington, and better than the overall Medical and Dental category nationally.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Seattle where you can study to be a dental laboratory technician, among sixty-five schools of higher education total in the Seattle area. The most common level of education for dental laboratory technicians is a high school diploma or GED. You can expect to spend only a short time studying to be a dental laboratory technician if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Dental Laboratory Technician

Dental Laboratory Technician video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, dental laboratory technicians construct and repair full or partial dentures or dental appliances.

Dental laboratory technicians read prescriptions or specifications, and examine models and impressions, to establish the layout of dental products to be constructed. They also test appliances for conformance to given requirements and precision of occlusion, using articulators and micrometers. Finally, dental laboratory technicians fabricate and repair dental devices such as dentures and appliances for straightening teeth.

Every day, dental laboratory technicians are expected to be able to maintain precise control of objects and devices through a range of movements. They need to see details at a very fine level of focus. It is also important that they evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for dental laboratory technicians to melt metals or mix plaster, porcelain, or acrylic pastes, and pour materials into molds or over frameworks to fashion dental prostheses or apparatus. They are often called upon to remove excess metal or porcelain, and polish surfaces of prostheses or frameworks, using polishing machines. They also place tooth models on apparatus that mimics bite and movement of patient's jaw to review functionality of model. They are sometimes expected to develop a model of patient's mouth by pouring plaster into a dental impression and allowing plaster to set. Somewhat less frequently, dental laboratory technicians are also expected to read prescriptions or specifications, and examine models and impressions, to establish the layout of dental products to be constructed.

Dental laboratory technicians sometimes are asked to fill chipped or low spots in surfaces of devices, using acrylic resins. They also have to be able to fabricate and repair dental devices such as dentures and appliances for straightening teeth and shape and solder wire and metal frames or bands for dental products, using soldering irons and hand tools. And finally, they sometimes have to ready wax bite-blocks and impression trays for use.

Like many other jobs, dental laboratory technicians must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Seattle include:

  • Medical Appliance Technician. Construct, fit, or repair medical supportive devices, such as braces, artificial limbs, and other surgical and medical appliances.
  • Printing Press Machine Operator. Set up or operate various types of printing machines, such as offset, letterset, or gravure presses or screen printers to produce print on paper or other materials.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Dental Laboratory Technician Training

Bates Technical College - Tacoma, WA

Bates Technical College, 1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405. Bates Technical College is a medium sized college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,807 students. Bates Technical College has one to two year, associate's degree, and two to four year programs in Dental Laboratory Technology/Technician which graduated one, three, and one students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Dental Technician: Certification is the process of assessing a dental technician's knowledge and applied skill level necessary to perform the tasks required of a dental technician.

For more information, see the National Board for Certification - National Association of Dental Laboratories website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.