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DENTAL TECHNOLOGY

EDUCATION & TRAINING

TRAINING

By law, to practise as a dental technician you must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). 

Many entrants start as trainees in a commercial dental laboratory, a dental practice or in a dental hospital, and combine on-the-job training with part-time study towards an approved qualification that are currently set at either level 3, 5 or 6. The DTA vision, detailed on diagram 2, is that the baseline qualification to register as a dental technician is an approved foundation degree at level 5.

ROUTES TO REGISTERING

There are currently a number of different routes to gaining a GDC-approved qualification and this is demonstrated in diagram 1.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Be aware that course entry requirements vary, so check carefully with individual institutions and individual employers set their own entry requirements for Apprenticeships, but for Higher Apprenticeships you normally need A level or equivalent qualifications.

ROUTES TO BECOMING A DENTAL TECHNOLOGIST DIaGRAM

ROUTES TO BECOMING A DENTAL TECHNOLOGIST INFORMATION

  • Approved degrees: full-time degree courses in dental technology are offered at a few universities. You usually need three A levels including a science subject. Equivalent qualifications, such as a relevant BTEC Level 3 National qualification, may be acceptable. You also need supporting GCSEs.

It's possible to train in dental technology through an Apprenticeship. These offer structured training in the workplace.

  • In England, it's possible to train as a dental technician through a Higher Apprenticeship (at level 5). In Wales, training can be through a Higher Apprenticeship in health (dental technology). These Apprenticeships lead to GDC-approved foundation degrees.
  • In England, the level 3 Apprenticeship for dental laboratory assistants leads to a Level 3 Diploma in dental technology techniques. Dental laboratory assistants work under the supervision of GDC registered dental technicians. Progression is possible to a Higher Apprenticeship.

The DTA Vision for Routes to Registering as a Dental Technologist

Diagram 2 - download: DTA Vision for routes to registering as a dental technologist   

With further qualification and experience, dental technicians can progress to a clinical dental technician and be able to provide services direct to patients. An important part of the role is to check on the patient's general dental welfare. The DTA believe that the responsibility and duty of care associated with this role is better suited to a level 6 qualification instead of level 5 and this is detailed on diagram 2.

INSTITUTIONS

The GDC list approved dental technology programmes and qualifications on their website  and you can find out more about Apprenticeships through the National Apprenticeship Service  or Careers Wales.

PROSPECTS AND PAY

Dental technicians working within the NHS earn from around £28,400 when first qualified, but it's possible for pay to rise to almost £50,100 with experience and advanced skills (2023/24 rates in England). Salaries for staff working in the private sector vary depending on the employer; those who are highly skilled can earn up to £60,000+. The income of self-employed dental technicians will depend on the success of their business.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Commercial dental laboratories

These laboratories are where most dental technicians work, either as employees or, with experience, running their own businesses. The laboratories, which range from single-handed organisations through to large companies, receive prescriptions from dentists and carry out the work required. They also repair or modify appliances. A large laboratory deals with a wide variety of work and may offer the opportunity to specialise.

Hospitals

Hospital dental departments may employ specialist technicians to make maxillofacial appliances and other dental appliances. In the NHS there is a clear career structure relating to qualifications, responsibility and competence.

General practice

A few large private dental practices employ their own dental technician to carry out work on the premises, though most practices use commercial laboratories. In a practice, the dental technician would deal with quite a wide range of work, often specialising to meet the needs of the particular practice.

THE WORK

SKILLS AND MATERIALS 

Visit our Dental Technology  page for more information on the four major disciplines within dental technology, skills required to do the work.

EMPLOYER

INCENTIVES INFORMATION 

Have you considered offering an apprenticeship, traineeship or kickstart placement?  The Education and Skills Funding Agency has shared this One Pager  with our membership which identifies choices for people over 16 years of age. It describes each programme and includes employer costs, incentives, training, duration, eligibility, progression route, links to additional information.

EMPLOYER

APPRENTICESHIPS INFORMATION 

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any organisation to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce. The majority of the time apprentices stay on in their place of work after completing an apprenticeship enabling your business to grow. You can now employ apprentices at all different levels, from school leavers to people that want to further their careers or change career direction completely. An apprentice can be aged 16 or above.

You can get help from the government to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment. Read more about the benefits to your organisation and how much it is going to cost on the Government website. 

Health Education England have produced a booklet 'Apprenticeships in Dental, Pharmacy and Optometry '

DTA SUPPORTING

STUDENTS AND DENTAL TECHNOLOGISTS

The DTA provide members with a one stop shop including a range of benefits   and packages  to suit and support students throughout their education; newly qualified individuals taking their next steps starting their career; and experienced professionals, making it easy for you to stay compliant no matter where you are in your journey. Student membership is just £10 per year and open to UK based students currently studying for a dental technology qualification. Watch the DTA professionalism video  to understand more about what is expected of a registered dental technologist.