Hospital Lab Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Mar 24, 2019

Hospital lab technicians perform tests to determine the function of a patient's immune system, evaluate their hormone levels or detect cancer, as well as for the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases. Keep reading to learn about the training requirements, salary and employment outlook for this career.

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Career Definition for a Hospital Lab Technician

Hospital lab technicians perform diagnostic tests on collected fluids and tissue specimens. These tests are recorded and sent off to doctors for interpretation. Senior hospital lab technicians will supervise others and develop procedures that will help the analysis of test results.

Education Associate's degree in medical technology
Job Skills Use medical equipment, understand medical terminology, communication skills, computer literacy, and ability to decipher chemicals, body fluids, and microorganisms
Median Salary (May 2017)* $54,670 (medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians employed in general medical and surgical hospitals)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 14% (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

Hospital lab technicians must have an associate's degree in medical technology, and being certified by the Board of Registry for the American Society for Clinical Pathology is highly encouraged. Education programs that are accredited through the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Services help prepare students for certification exams and offer programs in vocational schools, universities and hospitals.

Skills Required

Hospital lab technicians need to know how to use medical equipment, such as cell counters, microscopes and testing utensils. These technicians need to be able to decipher chemicals, body fluids, microorganisms and be able to understand medical terminology. They should have excellent communication and computer skills as they need to be able to report test results to physicians quickly and accurately.

Career and Economic Outlook

The employment opportunities for medical and clinical laboratory technicians, including hospital lab technicians, are expected to increase 14% from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This increase may be due to the growing number of aging individuals who have medical issues and/or require lab work. The BLS states that, in May 2017, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians working in general medical or surgical hospitals earned a median yearly salary of $54,670.

Alternate Career Options

Individuals with a passion for healthcare technology and laboratory work may consider the following alternative career options:

Chemical Technician

By earning an associate's degree in chemical technology or applied science, these professionals seek jobs working with chemical engineers and chemists using specific techniques and instrumentation in research, development and production of chemical products. From 2016-2026, the BLS predicted job growth of 4% in this field, which is a slower than average rate compared to other job sectors. According to the BLS, chemical techs earned a median yearly wage of $47,280 in 2017.

Biological Technician

These technicians normally complete bachelor's degrees in biology or a related field, including laboratory experience. They work alongside medical and biological scientists conducting lab experiments and tests. Faster-than-average increase in jobs, at 10%, was projected by the BLS during the 2016-2026 decade. In 2017, biological technicians earned a median salary of $43,800 per year, the BLS said.

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