Empty Pockets

Are dental lab technicians paid what they’re worth?

Dec. 3, 2013
Author is outraged at underpaid dental lab technicians

By Reg Goulding

Reg Goulding, President/CEO at DCS Smile Science Inc., handles inquiries from many professionals in the dental laboratory field. He recently received an inquiry that was forwarded from one of his clients. The question came from a successful dental lab located in one of the southwestern states.

He shared this experience on LinkedIn, and received some feedback from fellow dental lab professionals.

“After I read the query I wondered if I was having a bad dream,” Mr. Goulding wrote. “I felt like I was back in the 19th Century.”

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The question was ordinary enough. “Can you help find me a department manager for my C&B department, which also handles a good percentage of implant cases? The successful candidate would be overseeing nine techs and handling QC and client communication.”
“So far this is all sounding good,” Mr. Goulding wrote. “I know we can do this, we have many quality-experienced techs and managers in our database.

“But then I asked the inquirer a question. ‘What is the range in pay, giving a $20,000 spread?’ His answer, after a long hesitation, was $40,000 to $60,000, tops! I figured that was the BASE income right? But no! That is all the person will be paid for this position in this part of the state.”

“That’s BS, I said to myself. I feel like this lab does not deserve and can’t keep quality managers. How silly is that, $60,000 tops? I think that’s 19th Century thinking. Once you walk into a dental lab and sit down, you are competing for business from across the country and everywhere else. Dental technicians deserve fair pay for their skills!

“A quality dental lab technician is a professional, whether the person lives in Manhattan or rural America, I believe they deserve equal pay. The profit is there in Manhattan, so it should be in rural America as well. Bottom line? In my experience if you want quality work, you need to hire, coach, and pay quality people. Profits go up. Headaches go down. Needless to say, my company walked away from that job, as we guarantee success in our placements. But more importantly, the professional dental technicians we choose to represent expect and deserve the best career opportunity going in.”

Mr. Goulding’s peers weighed in on the discussion, including John VanderAar, Technical Sales/Sales Management and dental industry veteran.

“What do they pay their 'top' implant technicians, $9 an hour?” he wrote. “And why are they not promoting from within? Sadly, I think we all know the answers. I respect that your organization walked away from this nightmare. Thank you for sharing it with the group. We need to be reminded of these situations from time-to-time.”

Kent Kohli, Manager of Dental Technology Solutions at Whip Mix Corporation, also responded, saying that Mr. Goulding's thoughts were “well stated and dead on the mark.”

“It has bewildered me over the years of teaching and conducting technical troubleshooting and education for a number of companies out there and going into some of these allegedly 'higher-quality’ labs, how they can continue to trip over dollars to get to the few dimes that have slipped into the corner under the broken-arm casting unit,” Kohli wrote. “In many ways, I feel we in the laboratory industry have caused ourselves much of the grief and financial limitations we experience today, commanding fair fees and consequently compensating fairly for what is expected and the desired outcome. We have become a 'Walmart generation' in many respects.”

To join in the discussion, go to LinkedIn.