What Are Clinical Technologists?
Clinical technologists, also known as medical or clinical laboratory technologists, work in laboratory settings, performing tests and using medical technology to examine and diagnose diseases. Professionals in this field play an important role in the healthcare system by testing blood, fluid, and tissue samples.
Technologists may be employed in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, or by postsecondary schools. Pay in the medical field is generally good, and those that are able to secure government-paid positions will enjoy benefits and a measure of job security. The majority of such professionals work full-time, and those that serve in 24-hour care centers, like hospitals, may work evenings, nights, and/or weekends. Protective clothing and gear are required to keep technologists safe from infectious diseases and the chemicals and materials with which they work to process specimens.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Fields||Medical technology|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure required by some states; voluntary certifications helpful|
|Key Skills||Detail-oriented; manual dexterity and compassion; knowledge of how to operate laboratory equipment and machinery; ability to stand for long periods of time and lift or turn patients|
|Salary||$60,520 (2015 median salary for medical and clinical laboratory technologists)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Clinical technologists have bachelor's degrees in medical technology. They are expected to be detail-oriented professionals with compassion and manual dexterity and able to operate laboratory equipment and machinery, stand for long periods of time, and lift or turn patients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical and clinical laboratory technologists, which include clinical technologists, was $60,520 in 2015.
Steps for Clinical Technologists
What do I need to do to become a clinical technologist?
Step 1: Enroll in a Bachelor's Degree Program
The minimum education requirement to become a clinical technologist is a bachelor's degree in medical technology or a life science. Education programs need to be accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Some classes to expect in a medical technology program include statistics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
Step 2: Complete an Internship
Clinical technologists usually need to complete an internship as part of their training requirements. An internship could be completed during the final year of a bachelor's degree program, or it could be completed the year after graduating from a bachelor's program. By working in an internship, not only can clinical technologists gain valuable experience, they can acquire work contacts that can lead to full-time positions after graduation. Most internship opportunities involve working as an assistant to a clinical technologist and performing hands-on and clerical work in a medical laboratory.
Step 3: Earn a State License
According to the BLS, some states require clinical technologists to have a state license in order to practice. The licensure requirements for clinical technologists vary by state. To find out a specific state's requirements, check with an occupational licensing board or a state department of health. The usual requirements for these licenses include earning a bachelor's degree and passing a state examination.
Step 4: Become Certified
Certifications are available from professional organizations such as the Board of Certification of the American Society for Clinical Pathology. While not always necessary, many employers look favorably upon applicants with a certification and it may lead to career advancement. Generally, an examination is required, along with a bachelor's degree and a combination of medical laboratory science training and work experience.
Clinical technologists work in laboratories, performing tests and using medical technology to examine and diagnose diseases. They have bachelor's degrees and are expected to be detail-oriented professionals, and they earn a median annual salary of $60,520.