The different program levels in lab technology range from associate's degrees to bachelor's degrees. Since this is a vocational program, classes are often offered online or during evenings. As a vocational degree, these programs usually don't have any prerequisites beyond a high school diploma or GED, however most programs recommend backgrounds in science, math, statistics or even pre-medical studies. Most programs also require medical checks because many times students work in a sterile setting. Additional requirements may require clinical experience.
Associate of Applied Science in Laboratory Technology
In a lab tech associate's degree program, students learn laboratory procedures in blood banking, hematology, immunology, microbiology and coagulation. Programs also teach students to compile data used by physicians. Students can expect to log numerous clinical hours to learn about daily laboratory operations, safety, ethics and problem solving. Courses combine didactic instruction with clinical experience. The following courses are common to a laboratory technology program:
- Laboratory mathematics
- Clinical chemistry
- Anatomy and physiology
- Business communication
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicts that the employment growth for medical and clinical laboratory technicians will be 18% between 2014 and 2024. This will be in large part due to growth of the aging population and needs for equipment maintenance. The average annual salary for medical and clinical laboratory technicians was $38,970 in 2015. The lowest-paid laboratory technicians earned less than $25,890 while the highest-paid earned upwards of about $60,810 in 2015, published the BLS.
Some laboratory technicians opt to earn a bachelor's degree in a related field, like medical technology, which qualifies them to enter into the workforce as a laboratory technologist, who has similar, but more advanced, responsibilities. Laboratory technologists also earn a higher annual salary.
Students who want to be laboratory technicians can get an associate's degree or bachelor's degree to study topics such as laboratory mathematics, urinalysis and clinical chemistry. This rapidly growing profession allows students the flexibility to take night classes or online classes.