Using a range of community metrics, we've crunched the numbers to determine the best and worst places for dental lab technicians to work in 2021.
Johnny Cash’s 1996 hit, “I’ve Been Everywhere”, is a toe-tapping, tongue-twisting tale about one man’s adventures on the open road. In the song, he rattles off the names of a few dozen American cities that he’s visited. Cash’s was a cover of Australian country musician Geoff Mack’s 1959 song, which was a similar recitation of Australian cities.
Dental lab technicians, if they’re looking for a change, can take a cue from Johnny Cash, load up their car, truck—or even just grab a knapsack and hit the open road—and head to whichever city they choose.
If they need inspiration as to which city would be best, we have compiled a list of the top 10 cities for dental lab technicians in 2021. (We’ve also put together a list of the five worst cities, but more on those in a moment.)
There are a lot of factors that go into establishing which are the best—and which are the worst—communities for dental lab technicians to live and work. Certainly, money matters, but there’s more to it than just that. When evaluating cities’ merits, we have to look at a host of factors.
We started by looking at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data which gave us the top-earning cities in America—BLS reported dental lab technician data for 282 cities and areas in 2020.
But the cost of living varies depending where in the country one lives. For instance, thingssuch as food, housing, and discretionary spending are more expensive in San Francisco, California than they are inBeckley, West Virginia. As such, we added the AdvisorSmith Cost of Living Index as a factor in the calculations.
However, there is more to life than making money (nationwide, dental lab technicians earned an average of $53,248 in 2020). That’s when we started adding such factors as overall economy, public safety and so forth. Our complete list of metrics is:
Included, where available, is information about the total number in that profession for the community. Nationwide, there were a total of30,800 dental lab technicians in 2020.
In addition to BLS, we refined our rankings from personal finance website Wallethub.com, U.S. News & World Reports’s Healthiest Communities study, and data from centers For Disease Control for longest life expectancy, by state.
We compiled all the rankings and then honed the list from there. Whoever got the lowest score earned the highest position on the list; whoever got the highest score, well, we talk about them also.
Read on through this slide show to learn about The 10 Best (and Five Worst) Cities for Dental Lab Technicians in 2021.
There are about 130 dental lab technicians who live in work in the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford area of Connecticut. Even though this area is technically the worst of the best, they do enjoy some high scores, notably oral health and life expectancy. Best of all, however, is that they’re ranked number one in education. Those technicians rank 41st in overall salary, but their COLI is about five percent higher than the national average, which means it costs a bit more to live there.
The 190 dental lab technicians who live and work in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area of Nebraska and Iowa enjoy a reasonably low stress level. Unfortunately, education, community health, and economy metrics push the area towards the bottom of the top 10. Their stress levels aren’t too bad, however, which likely helps keep them from coming in at the back of the pack among the best places.
The BLS estimates there are around 120 dental lab technicians living and working in the North Georgia nonmetropolitan area (which includes Elbert, Gilmer, and Union counties). Those techs earn an average of $42,430 per year, and with a COLI of 89.1, they can do more with their money than most other places in the country. However, somewhat low scores for public safety, stress, and life expectancy push this region toward the bottom of the top 10.
The 60 dental lab technicians who live in work in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa area earn an average of $48,390 a year, the 37th ranked salary in the nation. Their COLI score is about 12% less than the national average, giving them some extra wiggle room to make ends meet. One of the best things about living in that area is their stress levels are reasonably low. However, economy and public safety are not so great.
The BLS didn’t know exactly how many lab techs live in work in the Lansing-East Lansing area. However, the average annual salary is around $52,560 per year. The area’s COLI is about 11% lower than the national average, which means those lab technicians can do a little bit more with their money. While most of their scores are somewhat average, the area does enjoy respectable public safety and oral health scores.
The 100 lab techs who live in work in Cedar Rapids, Iowa earn their middle-of-the-top 10 ranking because of mostly middle-of-the-pack scores. Community health, education, economy, and public safety are all, more or less, average. They do enjoy higher scores for life expectancy, oral health, and overall stress. Happily, although they earn the 37th ranked national salary, their COLI is about 12% lower than the national average.
We’re not sure, exactly, how many dental lab techs live and work in Raleigh, NC, but we do know that they enjoy the highest salary on our list, and the eighth-highest in the nation. Their COLI is just a hair below the national average, but what keeps them from placing even higher on the list are low scores and education, public safety, life expectancy, and oral health.
There are around 60 dental lab technicians who live in work in Trenton, NJ. And while they earn around $3,000 more than the number one entry on this list, their COLI is about four percent higher than the national average, so they must be able to stretch their dollar a little further. While the area’s education and life expectancy scores and are in the top 10 nationwide, their location quotient, community health, and public safety ranks push them just out of the top 2 spots.
The 100 lab techs who live in work in Peoria, Illinois make a about $1,000 more per year than their counterparts in the number one location, and their COLI is better, as it costs about 13% less per year to live in that area. However, other factors including the area’s education, its economy, and stress keep it from that number one position. Those techs might find themselves a little bit less busy than other entrants on this list, because Illinois checks in at number two for overall oral health, meaning that their talents may not be in high demand from local clients.
The Provo-Orem, Utah area earns its top rank not because the 270 lab techs in that area earn so much (they ranked number 30, second in overall salary among the top locations), but because there are so many other positives to living and working in that area. Their COLI is almost exactly on par with the national average. But, the area’s economy and life expectancy are both very good, and Utah has a very low stress level.
With any top 10 list, there is a natural inclination to say, “Well, if those are the best places to live and work, then which of the worst?” Let’s jump past the hundreds of cities and regions in the middle of this list, and get to the bottom five locations to live and work as a dental lab technician in 2021.
The BLS estimates that there are about 80 dental lab technicians living and working in Bakersfield. Happily, like anyone else living in California, life expectancy is pretty high as the state ranks number two for overall life expectancy. Unfortunately, California also has a higher than average COLI. But, as COLI scores go, Bakersfield is actually pretty good. They’re only about 3% higher than the national average. Unfortunately, Community health, education, economy, public safety, and overall stress pulls them into the best of the worst position.
Around 100 dental lab technicians live and work in the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada area. Its COLI is just slightly above average, meaning that their 94th ranked salary (about $42,260 per year) isn’t overburdened, but they don’t have a lot of extra cash to play with. Regrettably, their location quotient is toward the bottom of the rankings, meaning there is plenty of competition for jobs. Other scores, including community health, education, economy, and public safety are low. But while Las Vegas is a vacation destination, the people who live and work there must not find a too relaxing, because it comes in at number 95 for overall stress.
Coming in in the number three position of the five worst cities for dental lab technicians is the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Arkansas area. The area has a pretty good COLI ranking, as it is 12% less than the national average to live there. However, the dental lab technicians who work here only earn about $38,000 per year. Contributing to its low placement in the nation are low scores for education, economy, and public safety. Worst yet, the area checks in at the 150th position for overall stress.
The 150 lab techs who live in work in Memphis earn the least of anyone on our list—only an average of $33,280 per year. Happily, however, it costs about 11% less than the national average to live there. Further pushing them toward the bottom of the rankings are poor scores for community health, public safety and a very low score for overall stress level.
And coming in at last place as the worst places for dental lab technicians in 2021 is Fresno, California. Although the area enjoys a number two rank for life expectancy, and their annual salary isn’t the worst on our list, their COLI is about 6% higher than the national average, meaning they don’t have a lot of their money left over at the end of the week. Other factors cementing it in the bottom position include public safety and, maybe worst of all, a poor overall stress ranking.