Most healthcare facilities require their laboratory technologists to have at least four years of academic training, preferably through a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology degree program. Completion of these programs and sufficient work experience should qualify graduates to take a certification examination. To enroll, students will need a high school education and a background in natural science and mathematics courses.
The first few years of the program are composed of basic background courses in chemistry, biology, and laboratory science. Students are later expected to build upon these concepts with specific training in medical laboratory procedures. Students often spend their final two years of study participating in several practical and clinical courses. They also learn the safety procedures and regulations involved with working in a medical laboratory setting.
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Bachelor's Degree Programs in Laboratory Technology
Introductory courses cover concepts of natural sciences and laboratory skills, while advanced courses cover specific testing procedures and methods. In these courses, students gain first-hand experience with laboratory equipment and are able to complete basic tests and procedures, such as urinalysis, body fluid testing, blood banking, and hemostasis. Examples of some of these courses are listed below:
- Cellular biology
- Clinical laboratory data
- Body fluids and urinalysis
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Clinical laboratory technologists perform a variety of tests in order to find and diagnose illness and disease. Hospitals and diagnostic medical laboratories in the U.S. employed a total of 121,500 medical and clinical laboratory technologists in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports. Medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned a mean annual salary of $61,860 in 2015. Growth of the aging population should cause employment to increase by 14% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS.
Certification and Continuing Education
It is recommended that clinical laboratory technologists become certified upon completion of a 4-year training program. They can earn certification from a variety of organizations, including the American Medical Technologists, the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel. A graduate degree in management or biological sciences can lead to an advanced position within a department setting.
A bachelor's degree in clinical laboratory science or medical technology is the minimum education most hospitals require for their laboratory technologists. Most graduates will earn professional certification after completing their degree, and can continue their education into a higher level of degree.