Career Definition for Health Care Technologists
Health care technology is a broad term that encompasses several occupations within the medical field. Health care technologists can specialize in such areas as diagnostic imaging, laboratory testing, or surgical assisting. While job duties vary by specialization, technologists typically assist physicians. Other general duties of health care technologists may include preparing for and conducting diagnostic tests, keeping detailed records, maintaining equipment, and supervising health care technicians.
|Education||Associate's or bachelor's in medical tech or a related field|
|Job Duties||Assist physicians, conduct diagnostic tests, maintain equipment|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$61,070 (all medical and clinical laboratory technologists)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||12% (all medical and clinical laboratory technologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Health care technologists typically have a 2-year associate or 4-year bachelor's degree in medical technology, clinical lab science, or a specialty such as x-ray, radiology, CT or surgical technology. Courses that a health care technologist may take include anatomy, physiology, diagnostic imaging, and chemistry. Health care technologists also must attain state certification or licensure in their specialty as needed.
Health care technologists must be proficient with current technology, including computers, medical instruments, software, and imaging devices, and be able to adapt to developing technology. They also must have the technical skills to perform laboratory tests, analyze samples, perform complex procedures, and set up diagnostic scans.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), medical and clinical laboratory technologists can expect steady job growth of 12% between 2016 and 2026 as the U.S. population ages and technology becomes more important in diagnosing ailments. The median salary for medical and clinical laboratory technologists was $61,070 in 2017, according to BLS figures, but salaries can vary greatly based on specialty.
Similar career options in this field include:
For those who may be interested in collecting blood samples for lab analysis, becoming a phlebotomist could be a good career option. Working in a clinic or hospital, a phlebotomist draws blood for diagnostic testing or collects it for blood storage and transfusion purposes. They also store information in databases, make sure all blood is labeled correctly, and organize all medical equipment. Working in the field usually requires a certificate or diploma from a phlebotomy program and professional certification from an organization such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology or the American Medical Technologists.
Strong employment growth of 25% is projected by the BLS between 2016 and 2026, with over 30,100 new phlebotomist jobs expected to open up during this time. In 2017, phlebotomists earned a median yearly income of $33,670, based on BLS estimations.
If setting up operating rooms and organizing surgical supplies sounds intriguing, consider becoming a surgical technologist. These technologists make sure all instruments are sterile, stock supply shelves, help prep patients, assist doctors with instrument retrieval during surgery, apply dressings, and account for all supplies and instruments after surgery to prevent post-operative infections. Earning an associate degree or certificate in surgical technology is how most enter the field, and pursuing professional certification may provide an advantage when seeking employment. Some states even require surgical technologists to obtain certification from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or the National Center for Competency Testing.
Because of advancements in medical technology and the increase of surgical procedures, a 12% growth in the field is projected by the BLS during the 2016-2026 decade. Based on BLS data from May of 2017, surgical technologists earned a median salary of $46,310 per year.