Medical lab technologists collect samples of fluids, tissues and other substances, and perform tests to analyze them, while emergency medical technicians care for injured or sick patients in an emergency situation. A medical lab tech will require a bachelor's degree while an EMT will require a post-secondary award. The following outlines the educational requirements and job outlook for medical lab techs and EMTs.
Medical lab technology certificate programs are typically designed for medical technologists, while emergency medical technology certificates are designed for aspiring EMTs. These programs often include practical experience through on-campus labs and on-site rotations at local medical centers.
|Career||EMTs & Paramedics||Medical Technologist|
|Education Requirements||Postsecondary nondegree award; certification||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||NREMT certification||Licensure requirements vary by state|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)||24%*||16%*|
|Median Annual Wage (2015)||$31,980*||$50,550*|
*Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A medical technology certificate or degree is a required credential for medical technologists and emergency medical technicians, making these two careers a common choice for graduates. Although they are in the same field, these two professions have vastly different work environments and job duties.
Medical technologists can work directly with patients to provide on-site emergency care or contribute to patients' medical diagnoses behind the scenes, conducting laboratory research in a medical setting. Typical job duties include collecting samples and performing tests in order to study tissue, body fluids, and other substances.
Students can receive education and experience through 1-year certificate programs offered at several institutions. Most of these certificate programs require a bachelor's degree in biochemistry or biological sciences. Common prerequisite coursework includes physics, chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, immunology and hematology.
Courses covered in a certificate program typically involve both classroom and laboratory learning. Students also usually have opportunities to observe and participate in clinical and laboratory procedures through field rotations and internships. Common course topics include:
- Medical microbiology
- Clinical chemistry
- Diagnostic immunology
- Clinical laboratory instrumentation
- Transfusion services
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and clinical laboratory technologists were projected to see 14% job growth from 2014-2024. The median annual wage for these workers was $50,500 in May 2015.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
EMTs provide assistance and medical care to people who are sick or have been wounded in emergency medical settings. These workers answer emergency calls, use ambulances to transport patients to a hospital or medical center, and even perform certain medical services.
Emergency medical technology (EMT) certificate programs are frequently offered at basic and advanced levels. Earning an EMT certificate is the first step for students who wish to work as frontline medical care providers for the sick and injured outside of hospital settings. EMT certificates are typically offered through community colleges and vocational schools and can take 3-12 months to complete.
Applicants need to complete a high school education to enroll. Advanced EMT programs require the completion of a basic EMT course or program. Some schools offer first aid and CPR training for certification within the EMT curricula, though students might need to obtain these credentials prior to enrolling or participating in field work. Other possible prerequisites include health insurance, submission of medical records and proof of experience in an emergency care environment.
Course topics in the basic EMT program teach students how to assess injuries or illnesses, practice preliminary urgent care procedures and transport patients to a medical facility. Students have the opportunity to observe and assist EMT professionals through rotations in ambulance, hospital and other emergency response settings. Advanced EMT courses often cover the following topics:
- Emergency medical equipment
- Trauma and advanced life support
- Respiratory and airway management
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, emergency medical technicians and paramedics were projected to see a 24% increase in employment from 2014-2024. The mean annual wage for these workers was $31,980 in May 2015.
Medical technologists work to diagnose issues for patients by collecting and analyzing samples for testing and will need to earn a bachelor's degree. Emergency medical technicians work in emergency settings to provide immediate assistance and care to patients in need, and will be required to earn a post-secondary award or certification prior to employment. The medical technologist can expect to earn an average salary of $50,550, while the EMT can expect to earn an average of $31,980.