Here is the annual list of the top 10 and bottom 5 cities for dental lab techs to live and work in 2022.
If the Internet has given us nothing else, we can at least be entertained for the seemingly never ending supply of top 10 lists it provides. Some lists are, of course, better than others.If there’s a topic out there that you’re interested in, you can be reasonably certain that there is a top 10 list to support it. The best lists have some sort of objectivity – that is, they are not just lists reflecting one person’s opinion. That is what we strive for in our annual top 10 cities for dental lab technicians.
We started by looking at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’s data which gave us the top-earning cities in America. But the cost of living varies depending where in the country one lives. For instance, things like food, housing, and discretionary spending are more expensive in San Francisco, California than they are inCharleston, 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 just making money (nationwide, dental lab technicians earned an average of $39,090 in 2021). 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 of75,200 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 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.
With no further ado…
10. Boise City, Idaho
Rounding off the top 10 is the Boise City, Idaho area. The 90 dental lab technicians who serve this area earn about $12,030 more than national average. The cost of living index is just a tick higher than average, but what moves it to the bottom of the list are middle-of-the-pack scores for community health, public safety, and life expectancy and a low score for education.
9. Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Like their nearby neighbors in Raleigh, the 90 lab technicians who serve the Durham-Chapel Hill area earn a great salary – the second best salary in the nation, as a matter of fact. Add to that a slightly better than average cost of living index and the money seems to be working out just fine. However, despite high scores for education and community, health, life expectancy, oral health and stress pull them toward the bottom of the top 10 list.
8. Raleigh, North Carolina
Moneywise, Raleigh, North Carolina has a lot going for the 60 dental lab technicians who live in and work in that area. They make the third most of anyone in the nation – $55,020 a year. Add to that, the cost of living index is slightly below average. Unfortunately, life expectancy, oral health, and stress levels conspire to push them toward the bottom of the top 10 list.
7. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area has the dubious honor of being the second most expensive place to live (only nearby San Francisco is more expensive). Unfortunately, while dental lab technicians do earn more than the national average, they have to do more with it. However, there are plenty of attractors to the area. With number one spots for community health, economy, and life expectancy, it’s easy to see why the area is so appealing.
6. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
The 490 dental lab technicians who serve the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area earn significantly more than the official average, but unfortunately with a cost of living index of 124.6, they have to do more with that money. That being said, high scores for community health, economy, and life expectancy cement their place in the top 10.
5. Ann Arbor, Michigan
The 40 lab technicians who live and work in Ann Arbor, Michigan have middle-of-the-pack rankings for most everything except oral health, education, and community health, which is at the number 10 position. A great benefit to living in this area is that technicians earn about $11,180 more per year than the average, while the cost of living is just about average.
4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Washington DC/Virginia/Maryland
The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area has a few good things going for it. First, it is the safest place in the nation. Oral health, community health, and economy are also very high. The 370 lab technicians who serve this area also enjoy the fourth best salary in the nation ($54,960). However, they have to do a little more with that money, given the area’s cost of living index being 20 percent higher than the national average.
3. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
While the 100 lab technicians who live and work in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area earn less than the national average ($46,790), their reasonably low cost of living index (88.1) makes it easier to do more with less money. However, none of the rest of their scores are especially high. Oral health and stress levels flirt with breaking the top 10, but don’t quite get there. The rest of their scores are middle-of-the-pack.
2. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania
There are 1,630 techs who live and work in the New York-Newark-Jersey City area, and they enjoy the highest average salary of anyone in the nation. Add to that, the top spot for community health, and very high rankings for public safety and life expectancy. However, the high cost of living index (128) and low scores for education, oral health, and stress help keep it from top honors.
1. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota
The 380 dental lab technicians who serve the Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, Minnesota area just barely missed making it into the top 10 for overall salary. Earning $53,080 a year, these technicians must do just a little bit more with their money, given the area’s 105.4 cost of living index. However, it’s easy to see why these technicians enjoy the top spot. With a good economy, life expectancy, and oral health, these technicians enjoy a good quality of life. Add to that, the area comes in number two for stress, which only sweetens the deal.
With any top 10 list, there is a natural inclination to ask, “If those are the best places to live and work, where are the worst?” We scrolled to the end of the list to present the following:
5. Charleston, West Virginia
The good news for the 40 dental lab technicians who serve Charleston, West Virginia is that the area is the second least expensive place to live (only the northern Indiana nonmetropolitan area is less expensive). Add to that the fact that those technicians earn more than national average – $44,490 per year. However, the area has bottom-of-the-pack rankings for community health, public safety, life expectancy, and oral health, all reasons why dental lab technicians may think twice about living and working there.
Photo courtesy of O PALSSON via Wikimedia Commons.
4. Bakersfield, California
While the other entries in the bottom 5 have the saving grace of a less-than-average costs of living, Bakersfield, California is slightly higher than the national average. The dental lab technicians who live and work here have a little more money than average to work with, but low scores for community health, economy, oral health, and stress push it to the number for position. Its high life expectancy score just wasn’t enough to keep it off this list.
3. Albuquerque, New Mexico
The story of dental lab technician life in Albuquerque is similar to the others in the bottom 5 – while the salary is close to the national average, and the cost of living is less than the national average, other mitigating factors pull it down. Education, economy, stress, and public safety push it to third position of the bottom 5.
2. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia
The 60 dental lab technicians who live and work in the Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol region of Tennessee and Virginia earn a little bit more than national average, at $41,300 per year. The cost of living is about 17 percent lower than the national average, while factors including the economy, public safety, oral health, life expectancy, and stress push it into the bottom 5.
1. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana
From a financial perspective, the 110 dental lab technicians who live and work in the Shreveport and Bossier City area don’t have it too bad. At $40,940 per year, they earn a little bit more than the national average. Plus, with a cost of living index about 14 percent less than the national average, they can do more with that money. However, as we have learned, other factors in the community can have a positive or negative effect on their overall ranking. In this case, they have one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the nation, oral health is near the bottom, and they are in last place for overall stress.