Laboratory technologists use medical analysis machines to help medical personnel detect diseases and prepare treatments. Students in a 2-year associate degree program learn to operate and maintain medical diagnostic equipment used to analyze patients' symptoms. With a 4-year bachelor's degree, graduates are able to branch off of the medical technology field and specialize in more focused studies and research into blood, tissue, cells, and other parts of the body all with the goal to prevent and treat disease. Program graduates may find jobs at hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, crime labs, research facilities or a number of other related positions.
Prerequisites for these programs include completion of basic chemistry and biology classes. Students usually must receive a physical, have current immunizations including a hepatitis B vaccination. Liability insurance may be required.
Most programs require completion of an internship.
Associate's Degree in Laboratory Technology
An associate's degree in laboratory technology prepares students to assist physicians and other medical personnel in illness detection and treatment. Most programs provide internship opportunities at local hospitals and clinics. Program graduates will be prepared to take state certification exams. Beyond learning medical technology, most laboratory technology classes teach students the medical principles behind the technology they use. Once students understand these principles, they are better able to interpret the technology's findings. Some common subjects studied include:
- Bio and clinical chemistry
- Human anatomy
- Patient psychology
- Blood and urine analysis
- Technological analysis machines
Bachelor's Degree in Laboratory Technology
Bachelor of Science candidates in this field are, in many cases, those who chose to continue their laboratory technology studies after receiving their associate's degrees. At the bachelor's degree level, students continue studying the human body and its fluids, but add more in-depth studies into infectious agents. Enrollees also continue practicing with patients and may add studies in running a lab.
Most programs require students to have a background in physiology and biology, whether through an associate's degree program or as part of an underclass curriculum. Some schools require students have medical, liability, and malpractice insurance at some point. Bachelor's degree studies focus on the science behind human fluid analysis, diseases, and infections. Some common laboratory technology classes include:
- Humans and harmful fungi
- Parasites and the human body
- Lab management
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Those who've earned an associate's degree in laboratory technology often become laboratory technicians. These individuals worked for doctors of medicine, dentistry and optometry, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and those earning the degree should have ample opportunities to find work (www.bls.gov). In 2018, ophthalmic and dental lab technicians made median annual salaries of $31,830 and $40,440, respectively.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects this field to grow much faster than average, due to an increase in the aging population. Employment is expected to increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028. In 2018, the median income for medical and clinical lab technologists and technicians was about $52,330 a year. The lowest-paid ten percent of employees made about $29,910 a year, while the highest-paid ten percent of earners made about $80,330 a year.
A laboratory technology program usually includes studying chemistry, virology, and lab management, among other topics. Students who complete one of these programs may find work as laboratory technicians or technologists.