Training as a Dental Technician

Dental Technicians

There are a variety of routes and courses available to those who wish to qualify as a dental technician. All courses must be approved by the General Dental Council (GDC), and include the BTEC (Business and Technician Education Council) National Diploma in Dental Technology, the SQA Higher National Certificate (Scottish Equivalent), a Dental Technology foundation degree, or a BSc (honours) degree in dental technology. Courses vary in their time to complete, ranging from one to four years, depending on whether they are full or part time. It is also possible to gain a recognised qualification through the armed forces.

Many trainee dental technicians work in a dental laboratory for at least four days a week and attend a college or centre of further education for one day a week, working towards the BTEC National Diploma. This enables them to get hands on experience in the laboratory and learn about the theory behind the work, this approach can take one to two years to complete, but has the bonus of students being able to earn money while they train. Some colleges also offer a three year full time course, but technicians must have at least two years laboratory experience before qualifying.

Hospitals and health authorities usually offer a four year sandwich course, where students spend some time studying at college and some time working in a dental laboratory, so they are fully qualified once the course is completed.

Degree courses for dental technicians are full time courses and take three years on average to complete. There are three universities which currently offer these courses,

  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Sheffield University
  • University of Cardiff

Anybody who wishes to gain their qualification through the armed forces should arrange an informal interview at their local armed forces office, where all relevant information and advice can be given.

Entry Requirements

The required entry qualifications for dental technicians depend very much on the desired course to be taken. For the BTEC National Diploma in Dental Technology entry requirements are at least four GCSE’s at grade C or above, usually including two sciences, or Scottish equivalents. Once this qualification has been gained students can consider doing a foundation degree in dental technology or a BSc degree in dental technology. In order to gain a place on a Dental Technology foundation degree, students must have GCSE’s in English, Maths and Science, and at least one A level, usually in a science or technology based subject (or BTEC national diploma). For the BSc honours degree in dental technology students must have GCSE’s in English and Science and preferably Maths and at least two A levels in either science or technology in order to be considered as a potential student (or BTEC National Diploma). Each course provider differs in the entry requirements, for example some schools will accept Access course qualifications and others won’t, it is advisable to research all available courses and their individual requirements before making an application.

Applying

For those who work in a dental laboratory and hope to attend college to work towards a qualification it is usually the employers responsibility to pay for the course and therefore they often handle the college applications, this is the general rule for any part time technicians course (see list below of available schools and colleges) however, for all full time dental courses applications must be made through UCAS, any information or advise about applying for these courses can be found on their website www.ucas.ac.uk .

Topics covered on courses

Much of a dental technicians training involves carrying out procedures in a dental laboratory and is of a practical nature, where students will usually be supervised by a more senior member of the laboratories team of technicians. The theoretical side of their training involves studying topics such as dental anatomy, dental materials, denture prosthetics, orthodontic appliances, basic laboratory techniques dental bridge fabrications and many more. Students can find more detailed information and advise by searching relevant websites such as the dental technicians association www.dta-uk.org , or the international dental education academy www.the-idea-centre.com , the dental laboratories association www.dla.org.uk and of course the GDC’s and BDA’s  (British Dental Association) websites for example.

Training course providers

  • Belfast dental school
  • Matthew Boulton College (Birmingham)
  • Cardiff University
  • Telford College (Edinburgh)
  • School of Dental Technology (Leeds)
  • City of Liverpool Community College
  • Lambeth College (London)
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Castle College Nottingham
  • The Sheffield College

About the author

I’ve been a dental nurse for over 13 years, and have worked in various parts of the country in orthodontic practices, general dental practices, within the community dental services, for both NHS and private practices. Within that time I’ve seen quite a few changes, not only with the way services are provided, changes in laws and regulations but also with the use of new materials and more advanced treatments. The one thing that hasn’t changed at all in my time as a dental nurse is the importance of people receiving and understanding clear information about dentistry, treatments, regulations and jobs for example.

26 Comments

  1. DentalTech says:

    I have visited this site and got lots of information than other site visited before a month.

  2. Dental Nurse says:

    Thans for you kind comments. More information coming soon,

  3. rachel says:

    hi there i am currently studying on my second year of the foundation degree in dental tech after achieving my national award.
    im finding work placements etc quite herd to come by at present i was considering continuing my studys but am unsure were i could branch out to from this i wondered if you had any info or advise that may be of help regards rachel.

  4. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi Rachel,
    In answer to your question, firstly I think you should discuss the problems you’re having with finding placements etc with a tutor at your place of study, they may have a list of companies/employers who are willing to take on people in your position and they may have some other helpful tips for you.

    If you have already tried this and are still having difficulty I would work on making myself an impressive CV and send it to as many dental labs (within reasonable travelling distance) as possible, perhaps including an area of work that particularly interests you e.g. orthodontics, ….and try not to get too downhearted if you get a few knock backs, remember it only takes one person to say yes, and things could really improve for you.

    I think it would be ashame for you to give up on what you’re doing at the moment, particularly as you’re in your second year but, if you would like to branch out from your training as a dental technician I would advise you to either speak to any of the dental associations who specialise in a field which interests you most, speak directly to a lab technician who is already qualified and see what advise they can offer, or contact the BDA (British Dental Association). There are lots of dental associations’ details on my website, so have a look if you like, if you’re inspired, contact them and see what they suggest.

    I hope I’ve been of some help to you.
    Katy

  5. gareth says:

    hi just doing research into becoming a dental technician, i have been working as a stonemason for the last 16 years in a wide range of disciplines in the trade although never at the scale of dental work i am 45 years old and am just wonedring if it is possible to switch skills and is it worth approaching labs etc to see if i get a foothold into the industry would be very grateful for any help or advice on this matter regards gareth.

  6. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi Gareth,

    Thanks for your question.

    I do think that there are a number of skills involved in being a stonemason that would be advantageous to becoming a dental technician, you are obviously dexterous and can work with precision and fine detail, also, you must have a good understanding of and appreciation of the materials you use. If you are technically-minded and are good at working on a small scale then becoming a dental technician could be a good move for you!

    I would suggest that you do approach some local dental laboratories with an up to date CV, and perhaps in your covering letter you could explain why you’re interested in a change of career. Some research into dentistry in general would be good for you, as obviously you will need to learn about teeth and jaws, their structure, function, and so on. If you can find somebody who is willing to give you some work experience in a dental laboratory, this too could help you to find a permanent job in the near future.

    If you decide that this is definitly something you would like to pursue, have a look at the dental technicians association website ( http://www.dta-uk.org ) and contact as many technicians as you can with any queries that you have – they would be the best people to ask!

    I hope my relpy has been useful. Good luck with your planned change of career!

    Katy.

  7. gareth says:

    thnx for getting back to me katy

  8. Dental Nurse says:

    No problem Gareth, glad i could be of help to you.

    Katy

  9. Hristo Georgiev says:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am writing to you because I would like to study to become a dental technician. I would like to inform you t that I have already started my education in this field in my home country Bulgaria in Medical University of Varna and I will finished the first school year successfully soon. The qualification that I will receive after this three year course is Bachelor specialist degree. However, I would like to continue my education in UK because I would like to gain an experience there during my study, which will be helpful for me due to the fact that I have an intention to work and live in the UK.

    That’s way I would like to receive some information from you about the school-year fee and the conditions to which I have to replay to become a student . I would be grateful to know if there is a possibility to be transfered directly in the second school year, according to your rules, and not to lose what I have achieved until now. what’s more, I need to know what level of English language you require.

    I would be grateful to receive your prompt answer.

    Thank you in advance.

    Yours faithfully,
    Mr Hristo Georgiev

  10. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi Mr Georgiev,
    Thanks for your comment.
    I’m afraid my knowledge regarding foreign students’ training as a dental technician in the U.K. is rather limited. The best advice I can give to you is to contact our university/higher education applications organisation here in the U.K. They are called UCAS, and their website address is http://www.ucas.com or you can telephone 0044 871 468 0 468. I believe that they will be the best source of information for you.

    I hope this has been of some use to you.

    Kind regards
    Katy

  11. Auguste Gomis says:

    Dear Sir or Madame.
    I would like to train as a dental technician. I would be very greatful if you could help me. Thank you in addvace.
    Auguste Gomis

  12. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi Auguste, thanks for your question.

    If you look on my website there is a fair bit of information about becoming/being a dental technician. Have a look in the dental jobs and dental courses section and there is information specifically about dental technicians. Hope you find the information useful.

    Katy

  13. Lesley Stadames says:

    We have advertised for a qualified nurse and have been approached by a dental technician to see if she would qualify. I’ve heard of nurses going onto become a dental technician but not the other way round. Is this possible and what would she need to do?
    Thank you for taking the time to read this

  14. Dental Nurse says:

    Hello Lesley, thanks for getting in touch.

    I suppose a qualified dental technician would be a pretty good candidate for a dental nursing position, obviously they would have a good general understanding of some areas of dental work. However, many aspects of dental nursing are very different to technician work – working and managing a surgery on a day to day basis is very different to laboratory work. If you think this candidate has potential and is serious about becoming a dental nurse then perhaps you should give her a chance.

    I know along with the introduction of registration fees and dental nurses requiring indemnity insurance, that all nurses have be working towards or have a recognised qualification in dental nursing. Obviously a technicians qualification is very different to a dental nursing one, but, with some knowledge on the subject, perhaps there is a quicker way for her to gain a nursing qualification?

    I would suggest you contact the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN) and the General Dental Council (GDC), to find out what options this girl has regarding a dental nursing qualification. I would, however be very suprised if a technicians course is an acceptable qualification to work as a dental nurse.

    I hope the information I have given is of some help to you,

    Katy

  15. Nadia says:

    Hello Katy,
    I’m a high school student in Canada & I plan on moving to London for my A levels, and hope to continue my studies at University afterwards. I’m very interested in becoming a dental technician. However I was wondering about the amount of years I need to study to complete my course and am I guaranteed a job?

    Thank you for your time
    Nadia

  16. Dental Nurse says:

    Hello Nadia,
    Thank you for your comment.
    I suggest you read the blog posts about Dental Technicians in the ‘Dental Jobs’ and ‘Dental Courses’ section of my website, all the information you should need about training and working as a technician will be found in these blog posts.
    I’m afraid I cannot say whether you are guaranteed to find a job once you qualify, you will probably be successful in finding a job but unfortunately nothing is really guaranteed in life so I wouldn’t want to commit to telling you that you will find a job after you qualify!!!
    Katy.

  17. rigar says:

    Hello, I live in Manchester & I have been working for dental lab in Iraq in the past, I have good knowledge with being a dental technician but don’t have any certification, I learned on the job. I want be dental technician. What do I have to do to get certification. please advise me, because I loved this job.

  18. Dental Nurse says:

    Hello Rigar, Thank you for your comment.

    I think the best way for you to gain a qualification is to work as a trainee in a dental laboratory over here with the provisor that your employers pay for you to attend a course that will result in a formal qualification. I would put together a CV including all of your experience as a technician in Iraq and send it to a number of dental laboratories. I would also look in the usual places, online, local papers, job centres, to see if there are any trainee positions available and see what happens.
    Good luck.
    Katy

  19. Dorota says:

    Dear Katy,

    Maybe this is a silly question, but I want to know if it is possible for a deaf person to become a dental technician or a dental nurse?

  20. Usman Dar says:

    Hi,
    I hope that you are fine and enjoying good health. It is stated that I live in Pakistan (Asia). I’m eighteen years old. I just passed the Matriculation Level. I’m interested in doing Dental Technician Diploma from Manchester. I would like to gain an experience there during my study, which will be helpful for me due to the fact that I have an intention to work and live in the UK. My aim is to be a Youngest Certified Dental technician. I need your guidance and help to fulfill my dream.

    I shall be very thankful to you for this act of kindness.

    Kind regards
    Usman Dar

  21. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for your comment.
    My honest answer is I don’t know, but I suspect there are health and safety laws which make it difficult for a deaf person to work as a dental nurse and possibly as a dental technician. My instinct tells me that due to the possible hazards and emergencies occurring when working as a dental nurse or technician it is quite unlikely that a deaf person could work in either of these roles.

  22. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi Usman,
    If you want to gain some experience in a dental laboratory you can either approach laboratories for some work experience or apply for a trainne position and work either part time or full time in a dental laboratory.

    Either way, it would be a good idea for you to put together a CV with a coveing letter which emphasises your enthusiasm to become a dental technician.
    Good luck.
    Katy.

  23. Idun says:

    Hello dear Katy
    Thanks for your comprehensive website and information.
    Actually I’m 36 years old and i have a bachelor’s degree in electronics. I was born in the U.K and i have British citizenship. I used to work in my father’s company as a businessman in Iran, but i have decided to choose my own path.I have never worked in a dental laboratory but i always was interested in this field.Is there any possibility to study and work in a laboratory? if not how much approximately does it cost to have a training course in a college.
    Many thanks for your kind attention.
    Idun

  24. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi Idun, Thanks for getting in touch.

    Some dental laboratories that are employing trainee technicians will also pay for your course to qualify, its an ideal situation – having a job and being formally trained at the same time. The difficulty is actually finding a dental laboratory that is willing to take you on and pay towards your training, but with some research, and persistance you may find what you’re looking for.

    An alternative route is to contact training centres who provide the course you are interested in and ask them for course details including costs.

    I hope this helps to answer your question.

    Good luck,
    Katy.

  25. VARUN KUMAR says:

    HELLO MADAM.
    I AM DIPLOMA HOLDER DENTAL TECHNICIAN IN INDIA AND I HAVE MORE THAN 10 YEAR EXPERIENCE.I AM LOOKING FOR JOB AS A DENTAL TECHNICIAN IN UK.OR MAY BE I WILL STUDY ANY COURSE TO QUALIFIED.SO PLEASE PROVIDE ME INFORMATION REGARDING THIS.I SHALL BE VERY THANKFUL TO YOU.

    REGARDS
    VARUN KUMAR

  26. Dental Nurse says:

    Hi Varun,

    Thanks for getting in touch, The best advice I can give you is to look at the ‘Dental Courses’ and ‘Dental Jobs’ section of my website and look at the technicians sections…and of course any other dental jobs that you may be interested in doing. There is quite a lot of information for you there which will hopefully be of some use to you.

    Katy

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