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Career and Education Opportunities for Dental Laboratory Technicians in Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for dental laboratory technicians. Currently, 270 people work as dental laboratory technicians in West Virginia. This is expected to grow by 6% to about 290 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for dental laboratory technicians, which sees this job pool growing by about 13.9% over the next eight years. Dental laboratory technicians generally construct and repair full or partial dentures or dental appliances.

The income of a dental laboratory technician is about $12 per hour or $25,070 annually on average in West Virginia. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $16 hourly or $34,170 annually on average. Incomes for dental laboratory technicians are not quite as good as in the overall category of Medical and Dental in West Virginia, and better than the overall Medical and Dental category nationally.

There are seventeen schools of higher education in the Charleston area, including one within twenty-five miles of Charleston where you can get a degree to start your career as a dental laboratory technician. Given that the most common education level for dental laboratory technicians is a high school diploma or GED, it will take only a short time to learn 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 Charleston include:

  • 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

Putnam Career and Technical Center - Eleanor, WV

Putnam Career and Technical Center, 101 Roosevelt Boulevard, Eleanor, WV 25070-0640. Putnam Career and Technical Center is a small school located in Eleanor, West Virginia. It is a public school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 110 students. Putnam Career and Technical Center has a one to two year program in Dental Laboratory Technology/Technician which graduated three students in 2008.


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: Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia photo by Malepheasant

Charleston is situated in Kanawha County, West Virginia. It has a population of over 50,302, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Charleston, 84, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Charleston are priced at $268,400 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, thirty-four new homes were constructed in Charleston, up from twenty-seven the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Charleston are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and public administration. The average travel time to work is about 16 minutes. More than 32.6% of Charleston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Charleston is 7.7%, which is the same as West Virginia's average of 7.7%. About 16.7% of Charleston's residents are below the poverty line, which is better than the state average.

The percentage of Charleston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 34.5%, is less than both the national and state average. Starcher Baptist Church, Southeast Church of the Nazarene and South Ruffner Presbyterian Church are among the churches located in Charleston. The largest religious groups are the American Baptist Churches in the USA, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Charleston is home to the John F Kennedy Center and the Kanawha County Courthouse as well as Watt Powell Stadium and Ruffner Memorial Park. Shopping centers in the area include Patrick Street Plaza Shopping Center, Laidley Court Shopping Center and Plaza East Shopping Center. Visitors to Charleston can choose from Days Inn Charleston East WV, Motel 6 and Fairfield Inn Charleston for temporary stays in the area.