Fabricating eyeglasses and dental appliances requires skill with precise instruments… exacting accuracy… and an understanding of different materials. Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians rely on all these qualities to create and repair products to improve patients’ dental and vision health. Dental laboratory technicians use molds of a patient’s teeth to construct crowns, bridges, and dentures. They use hand tools and 3-D printers to form materials, such as wax, plastic, and porcelain, into prosthetic appliances. Dental lab technicians work closely with dentists, but rarely interact with patients. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians make prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. They may fill orders using automated equipment, or working by hand. Some make lenses for optical instruments, such as telescopes and binoculars. Technicians may need to wear goggles, gloves, or masks, and spend a great deal of time standing or bending. They work in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, stores, and dentist and optometrist offices. Most work full time. Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training. High school courses in science, human anatomy, math, computer programming, and art may be helpful.
What they do:
Construct and repair full or partial dentures or dental appliances.
On the job, you would:
Read prescriptions or specifications and examine models or impressions to determine the design of dental products to be constructed.
Test appliances for conformance to specifications and accuracy of occlusion, using articulators and micrometers.
Melt metals or mix plaster, porcelain, or acrylic pastes and pour materials into molds or over frameworks to form dental prostheses or apparatus.
Manufactured or Agricultural Goods
manufacture and distribution of products
Engineering and Technology
product and service development
medicine and dentistry
reading work related information
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
Hand and Finger Use
put together small parts with your fingers
keep your arm or hand steady
listen and understand what people say
read and understand what is written
Ideas and Logic
order or arrange things
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Data base user interface and query software
Easy Solutions Easy Lab
Graphics or photo imaging software
Computer imaging software
high school diploma/GED or certificate after high school usually needed
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.