Medical, Dental, and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians- Dept of Labor website
( Go to this website to view full descriptions of these professions) Employment change. Overall employment for these occupations is expected to grow 14 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Around 58 percent of jobs were in medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, usually in small, privately owned businesses.Most technicians learn their craft on the job, but many employers prefer to hire those with formal training.Faster than average employment growth is expected for dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians, while average employment growth is expected for medical appliance technicians. Job opportunities should be favorable because few people seek these positions.
When patients require a medical device to help them see clearly, chew and speak well, or walk, their healthcare providers send requests to medical, dental, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians. These technicians produce a variety of implements to help patients.
Medical appliance technicians construct, fit, maintain, and repair braces, artificial limbs, joints, arch supports, and other surgical and medical appliances. They follow prescriptions or detailed instructions from podiatrists, orthotists, prosthetists or other healthcare professionals for patients who need them because of a birth defect, disease, accident, or amputation.
For O&P technicians, creating orthoses and prostheses takes several steps. First, technicians construct or receive a plaster cast of the patient's limb or foot to use as a pattern. Increasingly, technicians are using digital files sent by the prescribing practitioner who uses a scanner and uploads the images using computer software.
Dental laboratory technicians fill prescriptions from dentists for crowns, bridges, dentures, and other dental prosthetics. First, dentists send a prescription or work authorization for each item to be manufactured, along with an impression or mold of the patient's mouth or teeth. With new technology, a technician may receive a digital impression rather than a physical mold. Then dental laboratory technicians, also called dental technicians, create a model of the patient's mouth by pouring plaster into the impression and allowing it to set.
Ophthalmic laboratory technicians—also known as manufacturing opticians, optical mechanics, or optical goods workers—make prescription eyeglass or contact lenses. Ophthalmic laboratory technicians cut, grind, edge, polish, and finish lenses according to specifications provided by dispensing opticians, optometrists, or ophthalmologists.
Work environment. Medical, dental, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians generally work in clean, well-lighted, and well-ventilated laboratories. They have limited contact with the public. Most salaried laboratory technicians work 40 hours a week, but a few work part time.