Lab Technician: How Do I Become a Laboratory Tech?

Learn how to become a lab technician. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the medical field.

View popular schools

Should I Become a Lab Technician?

Laboratory technicians collect, examine and test body fluids, tissue cells and other substances. These technicians typically perform their job duties under the guidance of laboratory technologists or laboratory managers. They may work at hospitals, medical laboratories, physician offices and university labs. Many lab technicians spend most of their work shifts on their feet, and they may need to work overnight if their labs run around the clock. Although these workers often deal with toxic materials, very little risk of infection exists.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Anesthesiologist Assistant
  • Chiropractic Technician
  • Clinical Laboratory Assistant
  • EMT Ambulance
  • Health Aide
  • Home Health Aide
  • Medical or Clinical Assistant
  • Medication Aide
  • Occupational Therapist Assistant
  • Pathology Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Respiratory Therapy Technician
  • Veterinary Technician

Career Requirements

Degree Level Certificate program or associate's degree
Degree Field Medical Laboratory Technician
Licensure and Certification Licensure required in some states; voluntary certification is available through the American Medical Technologists (AMT)
Key Skills Compassion, dexterity, stamina, detail-oriented, accounting, spreadsheet and medical software; ability to operate complex machinery such as laboratory equipment
Salary $40,750 per year (2014 average for all Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mount Aloysius College, American Medical Technologists, ONET Online, NYSED

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree or Certificate

Medical laboratory technician associate's degree programs combine science courses, liberal arts studies and clinical instruction. Students may study topics such as biology, laboratory procedures and hematology. During clinical rotations, students receive practical experience and work with certified laboratory personnel. Individuals who already have a degree in a related field can often complete 1-year certificate programs, offered by hospitals or vocational schools, rather than associate's degree programs.

Success Tip:

  • Meet health requirements. Postsecondary programs could require students to submit a medical history, pass a physical examination and show proof of immunization.

Step 2: Obtain Certification and/or Licensure

Many employers prefer to hire lab technicians who have earned certification by a recognized professional association, such as the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Certification applicants must meet education requirements that typically entail earning an associate's degree in medical laboratory technician, completing training or earning postsecondary credits in subjects related to the clinical laboratory sciences. Candidates must also pass the AMT certification exam. Some states require licensure of technicians and laboratory personnel. Licensure requirements vary by state and are available from state health departments.

Success Tip:

  • Keep your certification current. To maintain AMT certification, individuals can participate in the Certification Continuation Program (CCP) to earn continuing education (CE) credits.

Step 3: Seek Opportunities for Career Advancement

If a laboratory technician wishes to advance their career, they can pursue supplementary education, licensure, and certification. These, in addition to more work experience, can allow for a laboratory technician to specialize in a particular area of science and broaden opportunities for employment.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • MSHS in Clinical Microbiology
    • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

    What is your highest level of education?

    • MS in Nursing
    • Master of Healthcare Administration
    • BS in Health Science
    • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN
    • BS in Healthcare Administration
    • BS in Health and Wellness

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • MBA: Health Systems Management
    • MS in Health Care Administration
    • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
    • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
    • BS in Health Care Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Medical Assistant Technology
    • Medical Assistant

    What year did you graduate High School / Receive GED?

  • What is your age?

    • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Medical Assistant

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MBA - Healthcare Administration
    • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Medical Assistant-Certificate
    • Pharmacy Technician-Certificate
    • Physical Therapy Technician-Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?