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Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Dental Lab Products. 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.
Digital Esthetics takes a look at some of the latest data available to find out where the best states are to be a dental technician.
Americans take a lot of pride in where we live. Some of us have an almost religious connection with our local sports teams; we staunchly defend our regional accent as the “normal” one and we even have a weird connection about what we call our soft drinks (is it “soda,” “pop” or do you just call everything a “Coke”?). We decided to heat up those border battles even more by ranking the best places to live and work as a dental laboratory technician.
Money is certainly important, but we didn’t just focus on that. There are other factors involved. While lab technicians in Alaska made the most money ($53,030 per year) there are only 60 in the state and even with that wage, Alaska came in at number 45 in the rankings. We looked at the nation across 11 different metrics:
We looked at each state using these criteria and gave each state a number from one to 50, depending on their ranking (one being a very good number and 50 being a very bad number). We then compiled the 11 number rankings for each state to give that state a “final score.” We ranked the states from one to 50 based on that final score to give us the 10 best states to be a dental lab technician.
Without further ado, click the next button to see the top 10 ...
Sure it’s frosty in Minnesota (we didn’t rank locations for climate), but if you’re a lab tech, it looks to be a great place to live and work.
While Minnesota topped the list for its aggregate score, it did rank about $1,000 a year below average in annual wage ($39,710) and cost of living. But the state came in number one for factors like well-being, financial savviness, stress and dental habits, those variables more than make up for the cold, the snow and the Yeti.
Taking second place honors is Connecticut. Connecticuters ranked second in overall oral health, a great indicator that they take their teeth seriously and, should the need arise, they likely want quality, well-made restorations. They ranked fourth in education level and fourth in financial savviness. And coming in third in crime statistics means that Connecticut is one of the safer places to live. The annual mean wage didn’t quite crack the top 10, but isn’t too bad ($44,320 per year).
From Altoona to West Des Moines, dental technicians in Iowa enjoy a good quality of life. Crime statistics are in the top 10, making it a pretty safe place to live and work. What pushes Iowa into the third spot is its low stress level and Iowans’ dental habits. With the annual mean wage smack dab in the middle of national ranking ($40,490 per year) and a reasonably low cost of living, techs can live comfortably while making a difference in their neighbors’ dental lives.
Massachusettsans are a well-educated bunch. They ranked number one in overall education level, which helped them earn the number four spot in our rankings. Crime level was reasonably low and their dental habits means that they take their teeth seriously. They also enjoyed a mean wage in the top 10 ($45,480 per year), but with the cost of living being toward the bottom of the rankings, it’s a good thing that they are largely financially savvy.
If you really want to be safe, run-don’t walk-to Vermont. It had the lowest crime rate. And a lot of dental lab techs must know that, because Vermont has more techs living and working there than the national average. While the cost of living is near the bottom of our rankings, the annual mean wage is near the top, coming in at $47,150 per year. Vermontians are a well-educated bunch with a somewhat low stress level. Unfortunately, their oral health is toward the bottom of the rankings.
Virginia’s tourism and travel slogan is, “Virginia is for Lovers,” which probably explains why they take oral health and dental habits so seriously. It has a reasonably high total number of technicians (there are 950 in the state), but it is low, compared to the average number of techs throughout the country. While the cost of living is slightly below the national average, dental lab technicians’ mean annual salary is high on our list, coming in at $44,840.
7. New Jersey
New Jersey ranks number two in crime statistics, making it another nice, safe place for dental lab technicians to live and work. New Jerseyans are sort of a mixed bag when it comes to their teeth. While they were high in overall oral health, they were at the bottom of the pack for their dental habits. The state is home to 710 dental lab technicians, placing them well below the national average. Technicians have an annual mean wage of $41,160 and a cost of living slightly below the national average.
Nebraskans enjoy a good overall well being and their stress level is pretty low. The mean annual salary of $36,870 isn’t quite enough to crack the top 10 and, all things considered, there aren’t that many dental lab technicians living and working in Nebraska-the state is home to 270, putting them toward the bottom of the pack when compared to the national average.
9. New York
Dental lab technicians in new York enjoy the second highest salary in the nation (a mean average of $48,420), but that is offset by tolerating the second highest cost of living in the nation. Those numbers seem to balance themselves because they have a reasonably high rate of financial savviness. That being said, it has a rather high number of dental lab technicians (2,150), placing them near the middle of the national average. Despite what you might see on TV, New York only ranks number five in crime and safety statistics. Of course, New York is more than just one big city.
Illinoisans take their teeth seriously, taking the top spot for overall oral health and number nine for their dental habits. Again, this is a good indicator for dental lab technicians that, when restorations are needed, the populace is looking for something made well. The state comes in at the number 10 spot for overall lab tech jobs (1,150), but that still puts them low on the list when compared to the national average. With a mean average salary of $40,030, the Land of Lincoln is near the middle of the pack for technicians’ pay.
13. New Hampshire
18. North Dakota
21. Rhode Island
23. South Dakota
26. North Carolina
38. South Carolina
44. West Virginia
47. New Mexico
Editor’s note: Delaware and Wyoming provided incomplete data and were not included in our final rankings. Our rankings came from our sister publication's (DPR) rankings of the top 50 states to work in a dental practice, as well as Bureau of Labor Statistics data (bls.gov) and WalletHub information about stress levels.