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Clinical Laboratory Technologist Vs Technician: Education & Comparison

There are many people with an interest in working in hospital clinic laboratories. Technologists and technicians are needed for many of these positions. This article compares these clinical jobs and the differences between them.

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Comparing Clinical Laboratory Technologists to Clinical Laboratory Technicians

Clinical Laboratory technologists and technicians both work in the collection and testing of medical samples like blood, urine or bacteria. The two jobs feature different responsibilities as well as different education paths. Below you will find some information on each career field and some important comparisons.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Clinical Laboratory Technologist Bachelor's Degree, possibly licensure $61,070 14%
Clinical Laboratory Technician Associate's Degree or postsecondary certificate, possibly licensure $38,950 18%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Clinical Laboratory Technologists vs. Technicians

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians may work in clinics as well as medical centers. They both must collect testing samples that might include body fluids, muscle tissues and other biological agents. Technologists complete more complex medical tests using more advanced tools. Technicians for the most part do the same work as technologists, however, there may be some instruments and testing that technicians may have limited access to. With more experience, technologists and technicians may choose a specialty area, such as blood bank, molecular biology, immunology or microbiology, which may increase their duties.

Clinical Laboratory Technologists

Clinical laboratory technologists main task is to collect and analyze various body fluids for abnormalities. They check blood type and the purity of blood for transfusions. They use a variety of technical equipment and keep up with modern digital equipment that can run multiple test at once. Technologists are also in charge of training laboratory technicians. For this position, professionals earn a bachelor's degrees in a major such as medical laboratory technology.

Job responsibilities of a Clinical Laboratory Technologist include:

  • Follow physician's testing orders
  • Check and maintain blood testing/cell counting equipment
  • Analyze patient fluids and other biological materials
  • Record finding in patient records
  • Discuss findings with physicians and other medical personnel

Clinical Laboratory Technicians

Clinical laboratory technicians need at least an associate's degree or to earn a certification from a vocational institute for these jobs. They could advance to a technologist position with more education and experience. Technicians, like technologists, collect medical samples for testing. They run certain less complicated, routine exams of these materials on the more automated equipment. Technicians will also need to work directly with patients and keep good records of the test results.

Job responsibilities of a Clinical Laboratory Technician include:

  • Collect patient biological samples
  • Process fluids or biological agents using standard methods
  • Perform some exams using digital automated equipment under supervision of technologists
  • Keep patients informed throughout the process
  • Deliver findings for medical records

Related Careers

People who are interested in the work of clinical laboratory technologists or technicians may find interest in work as a biological technician conducting exams on a variety of items for biologists. Another field of interest might be in becoming a chemical technician who works with chemists and chemical engineers in doing research and analysis of chemical processes.

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