Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. There are some postsecondary programs in dental laboratory technology at community colleges or technical or vocational schools that award an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate. High school students interested in becoming dental or ophthalmic laboratory technicians or medical appliance technicians should take courses in science, human anatomy, math, computer programming, and art.
Training Required
Most dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians learn their skills through on-the-job training. They usually begin as helpers in a laboratory and learn more advanced skills as they gain experience. For example, dental laboratory technicians may begin by pouring plaster into an impression to make a model. As they become more experienced, they may progress to more complex tasks, such as designing and fabricating crowns and bridges. Because all laboratories are different, the length of training varies.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 13% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
In large laboratories, dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians may work their way up to a supervisory level and may train new technicians. Some may go on to own their own laboratory.
Licenses/Certifications
Certification is not required for dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians or medical appliance technicians. However, technicians may choose to earn specialty certifications because they show professional competence in a specialized field.
Median pay: How much do Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians make?
$34,630 Annual Salary
$16.65 per hour

Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians construct, fit, or repair medical appliances and devices, including dentures, eyeglasses, and prosthetics.

What do Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians do?

Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians typically do the following:

  • Follow detailed work orders and prescriptions
  • Determine which materials and tools will be needed
  • Bend, form, and shape fabric or material
  • Polish and shape appliances and devices, using hand or power tools
  • Adjust appliances or devices to allow for a more natural look or to improve function
  • Inspect the final product for quality and accuracy
  • Repair damaged appliances and devices

In small laboratories and offices, technicians may handle every phase of production. In larger ones, technicians may be responsible for only one phase of production, such as polishing, measuring, or testing.

Careers for Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians

  • Arch-support makers
  • Brace makers
  • Ceramists, dental
  • Contact lens cutters
  • Contact lens technicians
  • Crown and bridge dental lab technicians
  • Crown and bridge technicians
  • Crown ceramists
  • Dental ceramists
  • Dental laboratory technicians
  • Dental laboratory workers
  • Dental mold makers
  • Dental technicians
  • Eyeglass assemblers
  • Eyeglass lens cutters
  • Eyeglass makers
  • Hearing aid repair technicians
  • Laboratory technicians, dental
  • Lens grinders and polishers
  • Lens mounters
  • Manufacturing opticians
  • Medical appliance technicians
  • O&P technicians
  • Ophthalmic laboratory technicians
  • Optical mechanics
  • Orthodontic technicians
  • Orthopaedic technicians
  • Orthopaedic technologists
  • Orthotic and prosthetic technicians
  • Orthotic fabricator technicians
  • Orthotic finish grinding technicians
  • Orthotics fitters
  • Orthotics technicians
  • Precision lens centerers and edgers
  • Prescription eyeglass makers
  • Prosthetics fabrication technicians
  • Prosthetics laboratory technicians
  • Prosthetics technicians
  • Surgical appliance fitters

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