Clinical Laboratory Technician: Career Info & Requirements

Learn about the job duties of a clinical lab technician. Find out what education and training is necessary, in addition to exploring salary and employment outlook in order to make the right career decision.

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Career Definition for a Clinical Laboratory Technician

Clinical laboratory technicians most frequently work in private and government labs, hospitals, and clinics. They play a crucial role in the process of detecting, identifying, diagnosing, and treating illnesses and diseases. Typical duties of a clinical laboratory technician include analyzing the chemical content of fluids; checking for parasites, bacteria, or other microorganisms; checking blood to match for blood transfusions; and checking patients' blood to see how they are responding to a treatment.

Education Bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry or medical technology required; work experience may be substituted in certain places
Job Skills Communication, attention to detail, multitasking, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2015)* $38,970 for medical and clinical lab technicians
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 18% for medical and clinical lab technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

If you're looking to become a clinical laboratory technician, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in a field like biology, chemistry, or medical technology. In some workplaces and positions, you may be able to substitute a combination of education and experience for a 4-year, bachelor's degree. Typical coursework that will help you start a career in clinical laboratory technology includes biochemistry, mathematics, statistics, microbiology, hands-on lab work, and medical technology.

Skill Requirements

Clinical laboratory technicians work as part of a team in the lab and as part of a wider team of medical caregivers; they should have strong communication and interpersonal skills to facilitate their work. Good attention to detail and an ability to multitask will also serve clinical lab technicians well in their work.

Employment and Economic Outlook

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the economic outlook for medical and clinical laboratory technicians is good; the BLS expects employment in this field will grow 18% from 2014-2024. Median annual earnings in May 2015 for medical and clinical laboratory technicians were $38,970.

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Alternative Careers

Check out these other career options in lab settings:

Biological Technician

For those who seek a position working in a laboratory setting who don't want to deal exclusively with medical testing, becoming a biological technician is a possibility to consider. Biological technicians assist medical and biological scientists with collecting and preparing samples, such as food, blood, bacteria and water. Using high-tech equipment, they analyze composition, observe behaviors of microbes, conduct experiments and record findings. To enter this occupation, technicians will need to first earn a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field of study. The BLS projects an employment increase of 5% for biological technicians between 2014 and 2024 and estimated their median yearly pay to be $41,650 in 2015.

Chemical Technician

Although some chemical technicians may work on developing new medicines, many in this field focus on creating new chemical products and processes for commercial and industrial use. These professionals prepare chemicals, conduct scientific experiments on processes, test the quality of chemical products and document findings in detailed reports. An associate degree in chemical technology or applied science is generally how most enter this field, and coursework should contain hands-on laboratory experience. Reports from the BLS show that 1,200 new jobs will open in this profession during the 2014-2024 period, an increase of 2%. In May of 2015, the BLS stated that chemical technicians earned a median salary of $44,660.

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