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Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author of 18 technology books, including the award-winning Green IT: Reduce Your Information System's Environmental Impact While Adding to the Bottom Line. As such, he’s particularly interested in the technological side of dentistry.
We looked at each city and picked out the 10 best for lab techs this year. The professional dental lab world has been getting a lot smaller over the last decade. Since 2007, about one-fifth of the jobs have been lost-44,530 down to 35,630. But while the industry seems to be tightening, that doesn’t mean the jobs have all disappeared or technicians can’t find a job in an area that will deliver a high quality of life.
The professional dental lab world has been getting a lot smaller over the last decade. Since 2007, about one-fifth of the jobs have been lost-44,530 down to 35,630. But while the industry seems to be tightening, that doesn’t mean the jobs have all disappeared or technicians can’t find a job in an area that will deliver a high quality of life.
To that end, we compiled a list of the 10 best cities in the country for dental lab technicians. We started by looking at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, which gave us the top-earning cities in America (the bureau reported data for 210 cities). However, there’s more to life than just making money (the median average wage for the entire country, by the way, was $41,990). That’s where 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 (there are a total of 35,630 lab technicians in the country). We couldn’t, however, include that as a metric by which to compare because complete data for all the cities wasn’t available.
In addition to BLS, we culled our rankings from personal finance website Wallethub.com, U.S. News & World Report’s Healthiest Community study and the Journal of the American Medical Association’s list of states of the longest life expectancy.
We ranked each metric on a scale of one to 10, compiled them, and then honed the list from there. Whoever got the lowest score, earned the highest position on the list.
Click through the slides to find out the 10 best cities to be a dental lab technician.
1. Rochester, Minnesota
We used several metrics from U.S News & World Report’s ranking of the healthiest communities. It should come as no surprise that Rochester, Minnesota,-home of the Mayo Clinic-earned a perfect score for community health. The 30 dental lab techs who live and work in Rochester also enjoy top marks for the least amount of stress, best oral health and longest life expectancy. The community also earns reasonably high rankings for education, its economy and public safety. Those high rankings-in spite of the fact that it came in seventh for salary ($55,990)-cemented it firmly in the No. 1 position.
2. Nassau County/Suffolk County, New York
Wages in the Nassau County/Suffolk County, New York, area underscore why there’s more to selecting the best place to live and work than just money. While the 470 dental lab technicians who live and work in the area come in last place for overall salary ($53,820 per year), that’s well offset by the region’s education, economy and public safety, all of which top our list. Life expectancy is also relatively high, as is the area’s oral health.
3. Missoula, Montana
The 40 dental lab technicians who live and work in Missoula, Montana, serve about 73,000 people in the area. The city earns its third-place position not only because its annual wage ($63,180 per year) is appropriately placed in the third position, but so too is the city’s stress levels. This city’s community health and education rankings are in the second-place position, which helps offset a fairly low public safety rank of No. 8 and overall oral health rank of No. 7.
4. Kingston, New York
Kingston, New York, is about 100 miles North of New York City, and the 40 lab technicians who live and work in this city earn about $59,370. But while public safety and life expectancy are ranked reasonably high on the list, the fact that the city’s economy comes in at the second to last place means those technicians must be able to spend their money wisely.
5. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
Ogden, Utah, is located just to the east of the Great Salt Lake, and the 60 dental technicians who live in the area earn an average of $59,150. Quality of life seems pretty good for those technicians. Overall stress is ranked just No. 2 on our list, and oral health ranks No. 3. The region’s economy seems pretty solid-of the top 10 cities, it ranks No. 4.
6. Tacoma-Lakewood, Washington
Dental lab technicians in the Tacoma-Lakewood, Washington, area may not be especially busy. The community’s oral health ranks No. 2, which means residents take pretty good care of their teeth. And while lab techs earn about $53,950 per year (putting them in the No. 9 position for salary), overall community health, life expectancy and stress levels help give them a higher position in the overall rankings.
7. Southwest Montana nonmetropolitan area
Lab technicians in Montana seem well-represented on this list. While Missoula earned the No. 3 position, the No. 7 position doesn’t go to any one particular city but rather the Southwest Montana nonmetropolitan area. This encompasses areas including Powell and Park counties. It may not be a necessarily glamorous place to live-on the other hand, those who like peace and quiet may be attracted to the area-but those dental lab technicians who work there earn the most, on average, in the country ($72,700). Unfortunately, the high wage is offset by a low ranking for community health and bottom-of-the-list rankings for the area’s education and economy.
8. Idaho Falls, Idaho
Located in the southeast corner of Idaho, Idaho Falls’ 50 dental lab technicians can boast the second highest wage in the country ($64,090 per year) and a reasonably high level of community health. Unfortunately, the numbers drop from there. The city’s economy, stress level and life expectancy are all ranked in eighth place, while education comes in ninth place. Lab technicians may find themselves with plenty of work, however, because the state ranks No. 9 in oral health.
9. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky, is the second largest city in Kentucky and known as “The Horse Capital of the World.” The city is sort of a mixed bag when it comes to rankings for dental lab technicians. It does enjoy a reasonably robust economy and good level of education, but it’s somewhat dragged down in the rankings by overall community health, public safety and stress levels. Also, technicians who work here earn around $54,030, ranking them in eighth place for salary.
10. Corpus Christi, Texas
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi, Texas, finds itself at the bottom of our top 10 list due largely to its rankings for community health and public safety. Dental lab technicians may find themselves busy, though, because the state ranks No. 10 in terms of oral health. And while some of those numbers may be somewhat off-putting, when compared to other cities on our list, those 60 lab technicians earn an average annual wage of $59,570, which the fourth highest in the country.