Dental Laboratory Technician Certification

Certification is voluntary, at least from a legal standpoint, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that it can increase employment options. In Texas, Kentucky, and South Carolina, laboratories are required by law to have at least one certified technician.

Certification involves a multi-step testing process. The process is a little different depending on whether you went to dental lab school or learned your trade on the job. The first step for dental lab school graduates is attaining Recognized Graduate status. The RG exam is available to candidates who graduate from schools accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. After taking the exam, a dental technician has up to four years to take written and practical exams in an area of specialty (porcelains, orthodontic appliances, crowns and bridges, full or partial dentures).

Any technician who does not complete the requirements within the four year window must begin the process anew, this time taking a comprehensive exam (which is different from the RG exam). Technicians should be aware that they do have continuing education requirements during the time they have RG status.

Candidates who did not attend a CDA school must demonstrate work experience. They also have three tests to take to obtain certification. The first is the comprehensive exam. There is a visual reference guide designed as a study aid for each specialty. There are also testing study groups – test takers can check the link on the NBC site.
Modularization is an alternative to certificate for experienced dental lab technicians. It’s for techs who have developed expertise in one or more areas, but may not have the comprehensive foundation that would be necessary for certification. There are multiple modules available for each specialty area. If the technician passes all modules in a particular area, and eventually does decide to attempt certification exams, she can use the certificates she’s earned in place of the written specialty exam.