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Clinical Lab Technician: Occupational Outlook and Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a clinical lab technician. Get a quick overview of the requirements - including job duties, degree programs and certification - to find out if this is the right career for you.

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A clinical lab technician often possess an associate degree, though relevant work experience may be enough as a college degree is not mandatory. Each state demands different credentials. We will also observe the career profile, job growth, and income for clinical lab technicians.

Essential Information

Clinical lab technicians, also known as medical laboratory technicians, help diagnose and test for disease in patients. These healthcare professionals work with physicians and medical technologists in hospitals and other medical environments. Aspiring clinical laboratory technicians should obtain an associate degree in medical technology.

Required Education Associate degree is typical; certificate programs also available
Other Requirements Certification, licensure or registration required in some states
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $52,330 for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Outlook

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians would grow 11 percent from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). This increase in jobs may be partly due to the growing population of older individuals requiring diagnostic testing.

Salary Information

The median yearly wage for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $52,330 in 2018, according to the BLS. In the same year, the highest paid 10 percent of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians earned more than $80,330 annually, while the lowest paid 10 percent earned $29,910 or less per year, per BLS reports.

Career Profile

Clinical laboratory technicians assist a patient's physician by performing and analyzing medical tests. The information they obtain from the tests is then provided to the patient's physician for review. Tests can either be automated, using complex specimen devices, or done manually, using explicit instructions. Technicians can perform multiple tests on their samples, but typically specialize in only one type of testing. For example, phlebotomists focus on the collection, diagnosis and analysis of blood samples.

Clinical lab technicians work in hospitals and private clinics, among a growing number of other locations. Clinical lab technicians may work a variety of hours and shifts. In some locations technicians may need to be available around the clock. This is particularly true of hospitals, where emergency cases may come in late at night or early in the morning. Technicians need to use good judgment and work well under pressure, since the work they conduct may be critical to their patients' well-being.

Educational Requirements

Clinical laboratory technicians may obtain an associate degree in medical technology in order to gain career entry. In some instances it is possible to gain access to the career with a lesser education coupled with appropriate job experience. Community and junior colleges and vocational and technical schools offer certificate programs for clinical lab technicians. It is sometimes possible to learn the skills on the job.

Certification Information

Some states require clinical staff to be licensed, certified or registered. Even if certification isn't required by the state in which they operate, many employers find a certified clinical lab technician more valuable than one who is not certified. Some of the agencies that certify medical and clinical laboratory technicians include:

  • American Association of Bioanalysts (ABB) Board of Registry
  • The American Medical Technologists
  • The National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel
  • The Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology

In order to be a clinical lab technician, all you will generally need is either sufficient experience or completion of an associate degree program. Certification, registration, or licensure may be required, varying by state.

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