How to Become a Medical Technician: Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a medical technician. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in medical technology. View article »

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  • 0:00 Medical Technician Career Info
  • 1:10 Earn Postsecondary Education
  • 1:51 Obtain State Licensure
  • 2:15 Complete Job Training
  • 2:41 Obtain Certification

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Video Transcript

Medical Technician Career Info

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field Medical lab technology or similar field
Licensure and Certification State licensure may be required; certification optional
Experience Experience required for certification
Key Skills Detail-oriented; good manual dexterity and stamina; ability to operate complex diagnostic machinery and tools such as chemistry analyzers and phlebotomy trays
Salary (2015) $38,970 per year (median salary for medical and clinical laboratory technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP); O*Net Online

Medical technicians, also known as clinical laboratory technicians or medical laboratory technicians, work alongside lab professionals and technologists to help prepare, examine, and analyze specimens. Almost all medical technicians work full-time, and shifts include evening, night, and weekend hours for those working in 24-hour care centers such as hospitals. Technicians spend long periods of time on their feet and should be strong enough to help move patients in order to collect samples. Some risks are associated with this profession: lab technicians wear protective clothing and gear to keep themselves safe from chemicals and infection.

Medical technicians should be detail-oriented and should have good manual dexterity, stamina, and the ability to operate complex diagnostic machinery and tools. In 2015, medical and clinical laboratory technicians earned a median salary of $38,970 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Earn Postsecondary Education

Aspiring medical technicians need an associate's degree or a certificate from a junior or community college. Sometimes, hospitals or vocational schools offer these programs as well. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences accredits many of the programs designed for medical laboratory technicians. These programs include coursework in medical terminology, infection control, microbiology, clinical hematology, immunology, serology, and urinalysis. They also include a clinical component, providing students with hands-on experience in the field, working alongside experienced medical technicians.

Obtain State Licensure

Medical technicians have to be registered or licensed with the state. The prerequisites for licensure vary, but a minimum amount of education, such as an associate's degree, is often required along with the completion of a state examination. Specific licensure requirements are available through a state's occupation licensing board or health department.

Complete Job Training

Medical technicians gain experience during their education, and schools offer internship opportunities for medical technicians prior to graduation. New medical technicians also gain experience working alongside experienced technologists or other lab personnel. This training occurs on the job and allows medical technicians to learn how to perform tests and how to use complicated medical technology.

Obtain Certification

Professional certification is not a requirement, but earning certification increases a technician's career opportunities. Many organizations offer voluntary certifications. For example, the American Society for Clinical Pathology offers certification for medical laboratory technicians (MLT), which requires a combination of education, work experience, and completion of an approved training program. In addition to a fee, an examination must be passed and re-certification requirements have to be met when due.

Medical technicians should have some form of postsecondary education, possibly through an associate's degree or certificate, before going on to gain state licensure and experience in the field.

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