Aims To investigate the working patterns and patient base of registered clinical dental technicians (CDTs); their relationships with dentists and other professionals in the dental team; their willingness to work within the NHS and their expectations for the future as a new professional group.Methods Face-to-face qualitative interviews of registered CDTs, selected because of their geographic representation and mode of working, informed the development of a postal questionnaire survey of all early registrants with the General Dental Council (GDC).Results The majority of CDTs reported working part-time, often combining clinical practice with their role as a dental technician. They reported both positive and negative working relationships with dentists and dental technicians, demonstrating collaboration and/or competition depending on whether the scope of CDTs was respected and patient care was shared or lost. CDTs role in the NHS was limited because they did not have the status of becoming a recognised provider of dental care. There was a desire to expand their scope of practice in future.Conclusion CDTs are embracing their new status as an occupational group within dentistry. Core features of becoming a professional group were exhibited including the importance of social and financial status and the need to negotiate their current and future roles in the healthcare system.