Hospital laboratory technicians generally perform tests on a variety of medical samples using specialized equipment. They need at least an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate in order to find entry-level employment and may also have to obtain state certification.
Hospital laboratory technicians analyze and perform procedures on tissue, blood and other bodily fluids within a laboratory setting. They generally work under the supervision of lab technologists who are specialists in biological sciences. Unlike many other health professions, lab technicians have the ability to begin a career with minimal education. There are a number of avenues available for technicians to achieve a long and rewarding career.
|Required Education||Associate's degree or postsecondary certificate|
|Other Requirements||State license or certification sometimes required|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||11% for medical and clinical laboratory technicians|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$52,330 annually for medical and clinical laboratory technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Hospital laboratory technicians are responsible for a wide variety of technical procedures that detect, diagnose and treat disease. Technicians perform routine procedures on blood, tissue and other bodily substances using intricate lab equipment. The tasks they perform are often specialized and repetitive, requiring a high level of skill, detail and judgment. Different areas of specialization include microbiology, biochemistry, chemistry, hematology and immunology. The installation, operation and maintenance of lab equipment and instruments may also be a part of the responsibilities. Technicians deliver lab results to other medical personnel who use it to formulate a patient care plan or conduct research.
Some aspiring technicians become hired by medical labs upon graduation from high school. However, job applicants with an associate's or bachelor's degree in medical laboratory technology are preferred. It is essential that an educational program be accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Licensure and Certification
Licensure and certification requirements vary from state to state; information is available from state health departments or state boards of occupational licensing. Hiring preference is given for those who are also certified by a recognized professional association. The Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts and the American Medical Technologists are two organizations that offer certification.
Technicians can advance to the position of technologist by completing a 4-year degree in medical laboratory technology or a life science. Technologists perform more advanced procedures, and may be entrusted to supervise the performance of other technicians. Technologists can advance to the level of lab supervisor, chief medical technologist or laboratory manager. A career path in medical laboratory technology requires precision, excellent hand and eye coordination, patience and the ability to work well under pressure.
Future Outlook of the Profession and Salary Information
Employment of clinical and medical laboratory technicians is expected to grow by 11% between the years 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). One reason for the projected growth was an expected increase in medical testing for the aging population. Medical and clinical lab technicians earned $52,330 as a median annual wage in 2018, according to the BLS.
Those who wish to become hospital laboratory technicians need at least an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate. This career is expected to grow faster than average from 2018-2028, with a projected increase of 11% in employment openings. Technicians who want to become technologists at some point in their career should consider earning a bachelor's degree in laboratory technology or life sciences.