The 2-year Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology program teaches students to gather and process human specimen samples for diagnostic purposes, often under the supervision of a medical technologist. Medical technology students first explore the basics of biology, general chemistry, microbiology and laboratory science. They then spend hours in a laboratory learning how to store and handle specimen samples, take patients' blood and follow hospital clinical laboratory procedures.
Prerequisites include a high school degree and prior coursework in mathematics, chemistry, biology, or any other courses with a laboratory component. Most schools also require students have a GPA of at least 2.0.
Associate's Degree in Medical Technology
Degree program students learn the protocols and procedures for operating and maintaining laboratory equipment, demonstrating communication skills with medical personnel and patients, gathering biological specimens, performing tests on bodily fluids and following laboratory safety protocols and regulations. The curriculum of an associate's degree program in medical technology is divided into two aspects: general science and clinical experience. Some common course topics include:
- Introductory biology
- Laboratory instrumentation
- Clinical chemistry
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
General and surgical hospitals, diagnostic medical laboratories, physicians' offices and other health care organizations employed 321,220 medical and clinical laboratory technicians in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. In the same year, the top-paying industries in the field were wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers and professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers, per BLS reports. In general, medical and clinical laboratory technicians earned a median annual salary of $52,330 as of May 2018.
While certification is not strictly required for medical laboratory technicians, some states do require certification and/or licensure. The Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel both offer certification options in the field. Through years of work experience and additional education, such as a bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science, lab technicians can advance to become lab technologists.
Students in Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology programs take courses in topics such as phlebotomy, clinical chemistry, and immunohematology and learn to operate devices commonly found in hospitals and medical laboratories.