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Hospital Technician Education Requirements and Career Information

Training in hospital technology typically covers patient tracking, diagnostic testing, and medicine preparation. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for hospital technology professionals.

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Essential Information

Hospitals depend on several types of technicians to assist doctors, nurses, pharmacists and administrators. Common types of hospital technicians include health information technicians, laboratory technicians and pharmacist technicians. Respectively, they keep the hospital running by tracking patient records, helping conduct diagnostic tests and preparing medications.

Career Health Information Technician Laboratory Technician Pharmacy Technician
Education Requirements Associate's degree Associate's degree High school diploma
Other Requirements Certification may be required Completion of a pharmacy technology training program
Projected Job Growth 22% from 2012-2022* 30% from 2012-2022* 20% from 2012-2022*
Average Salary (2014) $38,860 annually* $40,750 annually* $31,090 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

A number of careers are open to hospital technicians, and education requirements for each vary by job. Health Information Technicians, Laboratory Technicians, and Pharmacy Technicians are detailed below.

Health Information Technician

This type of hospital technician helps physicians keep track of their patients' health care records, medical history and insurance information. Health information technicians use specialized software and coding systems to keep track of diagnoses, medical procedures and prescriptions, as well as calculate costs to the hospital and insurance companies.

An Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology or Associate of Applied Science in Health Services Administration from an accredited school is usually the minimum education requirement to become a health information technician. Health information technology programs include courses in medical terminology, anatomy, physiology and common pathologies. In addition, students take courses in typing, health care coding and health care computing systems. Some employers want candidates to be certified as a Registered Health Information Technician, a title conferred by the American Health Information Management Association upon passing an examination.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth for this field to be faster than the national average, 22% from 2012 through 2022, thanks to an increasing number of new diagnostic tests and medical procedures (www.bls.gov). The average salary for health information technicians was $38,860 per year as of 2014.

Laboratory Technician

Hospitals need laboratory technicians to assist the lab manager in preparing and conducting tests that doctors depend on to make diagnoses and plan treatment for their patients. These hospital technicians prepare lab samples for testing and operate equipment like centrifuges, refrigerators and incubators. Sometimes they conduct simple tests themselves.

To become a lab technician, one must typically earn an associate's degree, such as an Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology, through a program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Students in the degree programs learn the basics of anatomy, physiology, phlebotomy and medical terminology. Students are often required to work in the lab under supervision to gain hands-on experience. It's possible to achieve professional certification after completing a program from an organization such as the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel or Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Hospitals are the largest employer of clinical lab technicians. Given the constant and increasing need for medical care as the population continues to expand, in the coming years there should be more job opportunities for lab technicians than there are applicants. Clinical laboratory technician and technologist job positions are projected to increase 30% from 2012-2022, says the BLS. The average annual salary for laboratory technicians in May 2014 was $40,750.

Pharmacy Technician

Hospitals often employ pharmacy technicians in on-site pharmacies to assist pharmacists in preparing medications, labeling prescriptions, keeping inventory and answering questions from patients. Pharmacy technicians are often required to work nights and weekends in order to be able to respond to emergencies.

Employers look for pharmacy technicians who hold a high school degree and have completed a formal pharmacy technology training program, preferably one accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. These programs can take between six months and two years to complete and include courses in medicine dosage and treatment, medical terminology, pharmaceutical terminology and record keeping.

Demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase by 20% between 2012 and 2022, claimed the BLS, making this a fast-growing occupation. Hospitals are the largest employers of pharmacy technicians. According to the BLS, the median salary for these professionals in 2014 was $31,090.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics