Any recognized dental lab technician program should give you the skills and experience to begin working at a dental lab as soon as you graduate, but there’s a difference between knowing and doing. At SSCDS, we prepare all of our DLT students for their first job, ensuring they can fabricate bridges and crowns and knowing what to expect from their careers. Your first DLT job can be the most daunting, so we’ve assembled some practical advice to succeed at it from the very beginning.
Every dental lab is a little different, but wherever you find your first DLT job, you can expect it to be a change from the college setting. On the first day you should learn where every material and tool goes, and how the whole dental lab is structured, from individual workstations to the setup of the area around the porcelain furnace. This also means you have to memorize the system your new dental lab uses for workflow, so you can quickly find your place in this new environment.
And if you didn’t hear this enough throughout your dental lab program, you need to set a standard of personal tidiness from day one. This isn’t just considerate to your lab-mates; it’s essential to the success of your work, and the efficiency of the whole lab.
You may feel nervous in your first job as a DLT, but you shouldn’t feel pressured to know everything immediately. Dental lab technology is constantly changing, and every technician and lab manager has their own processes and tips for the work. You’re going to continue learning throughout your career, but at the beginning the learning curve is especially steep. Everyone knows and expects this of new DLT graduates, so your lab-mates and manager are prepared for a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about anything and everything as you settle into your role.
A lot of people are drawn to a career in dental lab technology for its stability. You usually work 9-6 and rarely have to head into the lab on weekends — a big perk in healthcare. That benefit can also be a challenge, since it means you have to fit all of your work into a set of hours every day. As you gain a sense of the workload you’ll receive and the time it takes you to finish fabrications, you should develop a routine and stick to it. Having a typical daily schedule will make the work much more manageable and, as a result, enjoyable.
Knowing and liking your coworkers makes you love any job more, and the same is true of dental lab technology. It’s a career known for its autonomy, but even as you’re working on a project alone, you’re surrounded by other lab technicians doing the same. You have to be self-motivated to succeed in your work, but you also need to remain on good terms with all of your lab-mates. Befriending them will make breaks, meals, and team meetings much more enjoyable. From the beginning, make an effort to get to know the people you work with and do little acts of kindness for them whenever you see the opportunity. Brewing the coffee every morning and offering to clean a lab-mate’s tools on occasion will help you all grow and bond as a lab.
Even if you were the top of your class in your DLT program, you can always learn more effective ways of doing your work. Whether your lab consists of one other DLT or is a huge organization of dozens or hundreds, ultimately your work is your responsibility, so focus on your productivity. Communicating and collaborating with the dentist, taking regular breaks, and logging inventory weekly will all improve your productivity, which will ensure you succeed at your first DLT job — and your whole career.
We’re proud to be recognized dental lab technician program, and we’re serious about preparing all of our students for their careers. If you’d like to learn more about our curriculum and how we set our graduates up for success, reach out to us! We’d love to hear from you.