Certified Med Tech Education Requirements and Career Information
Learn about the education and preparation required to become a certified medical technologist. Get a quick overview of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and training to find out if this is the career for you.
Certified medical technologists require an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related field. Licensing is required by many states and usually includes meeting educational requirements and passing an exam.
Certified medical technologists, or med techs, handle the analysis of various bodily fluids and other specimens. They are part of a health care team and may assist doctors and nurses in selecting the most appropriate tests for diagnosis. Certified med techs analyze test results and perform procedures in many clinical areas, including hematology, urinalysis, immunohematology (blood banking), microbiology and immunology. Med techs are typically trained through associate's or bachelor's degree programs in medical technology or clinical or medical laboratory science. Additionally, some learn through a combination of schooling and on-the-job training, and a few certified med techs gain their skills entirely from field experience, although this is rare. Med techs who aspire to perform complex tests must meet education requirements mandated by federal law. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments require that medical technicians who perform complicated medical tests and procedures have an associate's degree at minimum.
|Required Education||Associate's or Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Training, certification, licensure (varies by state)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||14% (for medical lab technologists)|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)||$60,520|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical and medical laboratory technologists made a median salary of $60,520 in 2015 (www.bls.org). Jobs for clinical laboratory workers (a group that includes med techs) were predicted to increase by 14% from 2014 through 2024, largely due to increased demand for medical services and the development of new tests. These jobs were expected to be primarily in hospitals, but there should also be a growing need for certified med techs in other settings, including diagnostic labs and doctor's offices.
Certified med techs usually work in laboratories, often in rotating shifts. Their duties might include matching blood types to prepare a patient for a transfusion or analyzing a patient's bodily fluids to look for bacteria or other microorganisms. Other tests certified med techs are trained to perform include urinalysis, comprehensive metabolic panels (CMP) and complete blood count (CBC). These tests help doctors diagnose and treat patients, as well as verifying the efficacy of applied treatments. Though they may work with infectious specimens, certified med techs take safety precautions and wear protective gear to minimize hazards.
The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) recognizes educational programs in clinical laboratory sciences and related health care fields. NAACLS-accredited programs include both medical technologist and medical laboratory technician programs, which must include a combination of classroom and lab work, as well as supervised, hands-on learning experiences. Med tech programs generally feature classes in immunology, human metabolism, hematology, microbiology and urinalysis.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers the voluntary Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) credential, as well as specialized certifications for med techs who work with blood (phlebotomy), cells (cytotechnology) or in other areas. The American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) also offers Medical Technologist (MT), Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), Physician Office Laboratory Technician (POLT) and Phlebotomy Technicians (PT) certifications.
Certain states require med techs to earn licensure. Requirements vary but typically include a bachelor's degree from an approved program and passage of an exam.
Medical technologists need an associate's or bachelor's degree, and some states call for professional licensing. Certification is available from several organizations and is voluntary, but may be required by some employers. The job growth outlook for certified medical technologists is faster than for the job market as a whole, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.