Undergraduate certificates are earned while pursuing a degree in clinical laboratory technology. These programs allow students to concentrate on one of two specific areas of study. The only education prerequisite is a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Second are graduate certificates. These are specialty certificates. Studies last from 1-4 semesters and require 16-58 semester credit hours. Professional voluntary certifications match the level of study completed. A bachelor's degree is required for most of these certificates, although a very few accept students with only an associate's degree. It is preferred students hold an undergraduate degree in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, or a related field. Specific science courses are also required. These include anatomy and physiology, biology, analytical chemistry, physics, medical microbiology, hematology, immunology, and genetics.
Undergraduate Certificates for Clinical Laboratory Technology
There are two undergraduate certificates that are earned through a clinical laboratory technology (CLT) program. Some schools offer the study independent of a CLT program. The first is a certificate in phlebotomy - using venipuncture to collect blood. The second is Physician Office Laboratory Certificate - training in doing the laboratory tests done in a physician's office. Although there is some overlap in required coursework for the two certificates, each also has its own requirements. Courses required for both programs:
- Phlebotomy techniques
- Phlebotomy clinical practice
Courses required only for the phlebotomy certificate:
- Anatomy and physiology with laboratory
- Applied mathematics
- Beginning psychology
Courses required only for the physician office laboratory certificate:
- Clinical laboratory orientation
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Graduate Certificates for Clinical Laboratory Technician
A few schools offer 4-5 specialty certificates in clinical microbiology, clinical chemistry, clinical hematology, immunohematology and microbiology. The classroom portion of some programs is offered online. Even though there is great diversion between these certificates, there are basic courses appearing in most of them, such as:
- Clinical chemistry
- Clinical microbiology
In 2014, there were 328,200 medical and clinical laboratory technologist and technician jobs. This included phlebotomists and physician office laboratory technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated that the number of medical and clinical lab technologists would grow by 14% for the years 2014 through 2024. Medical and clinical lab technician jobs may grow 18% for the same time frame.
Medical and clinical laboratory technicians earned a mean annual wage of $41,420 in May 2015. In the same year, technologists earned $61,860 as a mean yearly salary.
Graduates may be employed in physician office laboratories, blood banks, hospitals, independent or public health laboratories or research laboratories. Careers include:
- Medical laboratory technician
- Medical technologist
- Phlebotomy technician
Certifications and Continuing Education
Both phlebotomists and physician's office lab technicians may earn an associate degree in clinical laboratory technology. Certification is not required by any state, but many employers give preference to applicants who hold a recognized certification.
Two professional associations offer phlebotomy technician certification -- the PBT(ASCP) from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the PBT(AAB) from the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB). The ASCP also offers a Donor Phlebotomy Technician certification, DPT(ASCP). The AAB offers a Physician Office Laboratory Technician certification, POLT(AAB).
In addition to the certifications available to those with undergraduate certificates, there are other certifications available to those with further clinical laboratory technician training. A Medical Laboratory Technician certification is available from the ASCP MLT(ASCP), the AAB MLT(AAB), the American Medical Technologists MLT(AMT) and the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLT/MLT).
A histotechnician certification HT(ASCP) is offered through the ASCP, and the AAB offers a Medical Technologist certification MT(AAB). As all certifications need to be renewed, these associations also offer continuing education programs.
Students have the option of getting undergraduate- or graduate-level certificates in clinical laboratory technology, but these are often earned in addition to a degree program and may have requirements. Different certifications allow students to seek professional recognition from different organizations.