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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.
Looking for a new job? Itching for a move? You might want to avoid these states.
Americans take a lot of pride in the state they call home. Maybe your state is home to Abraham Lincoln (Illinois), maybe your state is home to the first man who walked on the moon (Ohio), or maybe your state is home to the country’s largest pumpkin (Washington). For whatever reason, we embrace the best that our states have to offer.
On the other hand, there are some states that are not ideal for everything. For example, dental lab technicians may have a tougher go at it in some states as opposed to others.
We compiled data from personal finance website WalletHub (giving us dental health rankings); US News and World Report (who contracted researchers McKinsey & Company to evaluate the states for such metrics as health care, finance, and crime rates); and the government’s Occupational Employment and Statistics program (to find out employment data specific to dental lab techs).
We ranked each of 11 metrics for each state on a scale from 1 to 50. The best state got a one, the worst got a 50. We then compiled those numbers - the best states got the lowest total; the worst (again, here we are) got the highest numbers.
It’s important to realize that not one single dataset should define a state as the best or worst. For instance, if we ranked them solely on highest wage, Alaska would be in the top of the pack, yet other factors placed it squarely on this list. There are other considerations impacting quality of life, including crime, stress levels, and education.
The metrics that we used are:
And with that, here is our ranking for the worst states for dental lab technicians.
Our list starts with the Natural State. Arkansas has an interesting mix of some high rankings, some low rankings, and some right in the middle. First, the good news: The state’s location quotient means that they have a fairly good representation of lab technicians for the needs of their state. Also, pretty good is that the state’s cost-of-living is just a couple of places shy of being in the top 10. However, what brings them to this list are some bad rankings. Technicians in Arkansas earn well below the national average ($37,740 per year). Crime in the state the third worst in the country. But, what really gives them a poor score is overall healthcare and oral care (they came in dead last for both) and their dental habits.
9. South Carolina
Next up is the Palmetto State. South Carolina is, like Arkansas, somewhat of a mishmash of rankings. First, and possibly most satisfying, is that the average annual salary ($44,680) is the 10th best in the country. The fact that the state is average, in terms of cost-of-living, helps make those dollars last. On the other hand, the state ranks last in terms of education. While the rest of the state’s numbers are not remarkably low, they’re all consistently in the bottom 20 percent of the country, leading to South Carolina’s place at number nine.
8. West Virginia
The good news for the Mountain State is that the cost-of-living is in the top 10. Plus, residents have a reasonably high rate of insurance coverage. However, that ranking is little confusing, because West Virginians rank last in terms of oral health and their dental habits are the fourth worst in the country. Lab technicians seem to be in demand, because the state has location quotient putting it in 34th place. The state’s relatively low number of technicians (there are 140) is influenced by a lot of these numbers, not to mention it’s relatively low average wage ($35,070).
The good news for dental lab techs living in the Yellowhammer State is that there are a good number of technicians living and working there (890). The high location quotient means that there is a good professional community on to which other technicians can turn. The bad news, however, is that lab technicians in Alabama earn significantly less than the national average ($36,950 per year). The state’s dental habits and oral health are also low, which is not too surprising, because the state rates well below the national average for insurance coverage. Other factors, including education and crime levels, along with the worst stress level in the nation, contribute to its placement on this list.
Technicians in the Volunteer State have a fairly low location quotient ranking, meaning that, compared to the rest of the country, there aren’t enough techs to meet local needs. Tennessee would benefit from more dental lab technicians, however one of the biggest reasons for a low number of techs is, likely, it’s low salaries. Dental lab technicians in Tennessee make just $34,630. Other factors contributing to this spot on this list are its crime rate, stress levels, health care and dental habits. State residents would probably do better with their health care rankings, except insurance coverage is below the national average.
Alaska is a perfect example of why no single metric can define a list of best or worst places. If one were just to look at salary, dental lab technicians would flock to the Last Frontier. They come in at number one earning $53,030 per year. However, the rest of the data belies that. With the third lowest number of technicians in the country (60), there is a reason more technicians aren’t heading north. While technicians do make the most, the cost of living is very high. Also, the state is the second worst for insurance coverage, likely leading to its low scores in dental habits and oral health.
Dental technicians in the Pelican State earn considerably below the national average (only $34,110 per year). Louisianans’ dental habits and oral health ranked fairly low, some of that is likely due to a lower amount of insurance coverage. Other factors that contribute to their presence on this list include a fairly high stress rate and the worst crime rate in the nation.
3. New Mexico
The Land of Enchantment doesn’t seem too enchanting for dental lab technicians. The state is home to the fifth lowest population of dental lab technicians (90), and their location quotient tells us that the state needs more techs. Contributing to that low population are very low rankings in education and crime, along with stress. New Mexican dental lab technicians also make well below the national average, earning just $37,970 per year.
Dental lab technicians in the Silver State earn well below the national average, earning just $36,870 per year. This likely contributes to the low number of technicians in the state (270). The cost of living is not the worst in the country, but when coupled with the low salary, it may tell us why not many techs calls Nevada home. However, other factors contribute to their low rankings, as well. Nevada comes in in the 49th position on the national ranking for education. Stress levels are also high, as is the crime rate.
While some of the other states on this list had a balance of some good numbers along with some not-so-good numbers, the Magnolia State, regrettably, is low for most metrics. Notably, dental lab technicians in Mississippi make just $31,430 per year. While affordability is pretty good (they ranked in 13th place), the state still had a fairly low number of dental lab technicians. Mississippians were 45th on insurance coverage, which likely lead to poorer rankings in healthcare, oral health and dental habits (they ranked 50).