Lab Technician Certification, Diploma and Certificate Programs

Lab technicians handle tissue and fluid samples, analyzing them to generate data used by doctors or researchers for a variety of purposes. Short-term diploma and certificate programs for lab technicians allow graduates to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation, pending any state licensure requirements.

Essential Information

Diploma programs are available for those looking to fulfill the requirements for becoming lab technicians. A lab technician diploma program will typically last 1-2 semesters and focus on one core set of skills used in the laboratory. These diploma programs are typically introductory in nature. Certificate programs are a more common avenue for becoming a lab technician. These programs may last 15 months or more. Completion of an accredited certificate program qualifies aspiring lab technicians for a variety of positions and national certifications. Both types of programs address similar topics, including serology, phlebotomy and laboratory computer applications, but the certificate program includes more in-depth coverage of lab subjects. Admissions requirements vary by school and program, but may include a high school diploma and basic science courses. Professional certification is optional, but is often sought by employers.

  • Program Levels for Lab Technicians: Diploma programs, Certificate programs
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma, completion of basic science courses
  • Other Possible Requirements: Further professional licensure
  • Program Lengths: 1-2 years (diploma), 15+ months (certificate)

Clinical Lab Technician Diploma

These programs provide curricula that are singularly focused in medical laboratory and office procedures. These programs may include courses in the following:

  • Hematology
  • Serology
  • Microscopy
  • Medical terminology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Computer applications in the laboratory

Clinical Lab Technician Certificate

These programs cover the various ways that lab workers analyze and process human tissue and fluid samples. These programs cover topics including the following:

  • Serology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Urinalysis
  • Cellular biotechnology
  • Biotechnology computer programs

Popular Career Options

Not limited to just lab technician work, students who partake in diploma programs may end up in one of several roles. Some related areas that diploma holders may pursue include the following:

  • Laboratory assistance
  • Phlebotomy
  • Medical assistance

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov), the field of laboratory technicians was predicted to grow at a healthier than average pace, with almost 30% more jobs being created between 2012 and 2022. In 2014, the mean salary for laboratory technicians was reported by the BLS to be $40,750.

Continuing Education

In addition to credentials earned from an accredited program, many employers expect their lab technicians to hold voluntary certification by one of many professional organizations, such as the American Medical Technologists and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Almost all organizations require examinees to have completed an accredited diploma, certificate or other lab technology degree programs, but other certification guidelines vary.


In some states, laboratory personnel are require to be licensed or certified. These licenses often require a bachelor's degree in laboratory technology, which would mean additional education for laboratory technician diploma and certificate holders. It is important to understand that a bachelor's degree is required to work as a laboratory technologist, while only a diploma, certificate or associate's degree is required to work as a lab technician.

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