Employment: Medical, Dental, and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians

Medical, dental, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians held about 87,000 jobs in 2004. Around 3 out of 5 salaried jobs were in medical equipment and supply manufacturing laboratories, which usually are small, privately owned businesses with fewer than five employees. However, some laboratories are large; a few employ more than 1,000 workers.

Employment by detailed occupation is presented in the following tabulation:

Dental laboratory technicians 50,000
Ophthalmic laboratory technicians 25,000
Medical appliance technicians 11,000

Some medical appliance technicians worked in health and personal care stores, while others worked in public and private hospitals, professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers, offices of physicians, or consumer goods rental centers. Some were self-employed.

Some dental laboratory technicians work in offices of dentists. Others work for hospitals providing dental services, including U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals. Some dental laboratory technicians open their own offices or work in dental laboratories in their homes.

Around 30 percent of ophthalmic laboratory technicians were in health and personal care stores, such as optical goods stores that manufacture and sell prescription glasses and contact lenses. Some were in offices of optometrists or ophthalmologists. Others worked at professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers. A few worked in commercial and service industry machine manufacturing firms that produce lenses for other optical instruments, such as telescopes and binoculars.