A medical technologist performs often complex tests and analysis of patient fluids and cells, and works with doctors to diagnose and monitor patient treatment. A medical technician performs less complex tests and analysis of patient fluids and cells, usually under the supervision of a medical technologist.
The term medical tech may apply to medical technologists or medical technicians. These professionals work in clinical laboratories, using high-tech equipment to test and analyze body fluid and cell samples. Medical technologists usually hold a bachelor's degree while medical technicians most frequently hold an associate's degree or a certificate.
|Career||Medical Technologist||Medical Technicians|
|Education Requirements||A bachelor's degree in medical technology or a natural science||An associate's degree or certificate in medical or clinical lab technology|
|Licensure/Certification||Required in some states and preferred by employers||Required in some states and preferred by employers|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14% (medical and clinical laboratory technologists)||18% (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$60,520 (medical and clinical laboratory technologists)||$38,970 (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Certified Medical Technologist Education Requirements
Most medical technologist or clinical laboratory technologist positions require that candidates hold a bachelor's degree in either medical technology or a natural science. Some technologist jobs can be obtained with a combination of hands-on training and formal lab tech training.
Degree programs for medical technology generally consist of three years of classroom study and one year of clinical experience. Medical technologist coursework covers biology, microbiology, chemistry, immunology and hematology. Additionally, students complete general education courses, which may include mathematics, statistics, computer science and management. Schools offering accredited programs in medical technology can be found at the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (www.naacls.org).
Certified medical technologists work with physicians to make diagnoses and monitor a patient's treatment in hospital settings. Medical technologists perform complex tests and analyses of fluid and cell samples using advanced, state-of-the-art technology. This information is used to measure glucose or cholesterol levels, determine blood type or detect the presence of bacteria, parasites and other diseases. Additionally, medical technologists are expected to pay close attention to detail and demonstrate strong computer, analytical, problem-solving and communication skills.
Employment and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment opportunities for medical and clinical lab technologists to grow by 14% between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Also according to the BLS, the median annual salary for medical technologists in May of 2015 was $60,520.
Certified Medical Technician Education Requirements
Medical technicians generally complete associate's degree or certificate programs in medical or clinical lab technology at technical or community colleges. These programs are typically two years in length, engaging students in basic sciences, like anatomy and physiology, chemistry and microbiology, as well as medical technician coursework in phlebotomy, hematology, serology and urinalysis. Students also participate in clinical practice, which offer hands-on experience performing tests and drawing blood in a clinical laboratory.
Medical technicians are responsible for executing tests and lab procedures, which are less complex than those performed by medical technologists. They test blood samples for chemical and drug levels, operate automated analyzers, prepare specimens for analysis and perform manual tests. Technicians customarily work under the supervision of medical technologists.
Employment and Salary Information
According to the BLS, the median salary for medical technicians was $38,970 in May 2015. Employment opportunities for medical and clinical lab technicians are expected to grow 18% between 2014 and 2024, which is notably faster than average.
A medical technologist usually requires a bachelor degree in a related field that may include clinical experience. A medical technician usually requires an associate degree or completion of a certificate program in a related field. Both careers are experiencing high growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).