Laboratory Technologist: Employment & Career Information

A laboratory technologist works in the field of science and medicine and assists doctors in researching and treating infections and diseases. These technologists perform chemical, physical and microbiological analyses of blood, tissue and fluid samples. Read further to learn about the training requirements and the benefits of this profession.

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Career Definition for a Laboratory Technologist

Laboratory technologists, also known as medical laboratory scientists, work in laboratories and are responsible for discovering and detecting new treatments for diseases and infections. Technologists examine and test different cells, body fluids, parasites, bacteria and other microorganisms to see how they respond to different treatments. They use these test results to help doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to make informed decisions regarding diagnosis and treatment.

Education Bachelor of Science in biology, chemistry, or a similar field
Job Skills Ability to use sophisticated laboratory equipment, prepare spreadsheets, organize files, produce professional documents, and good communication skills
Median Salary (May 2015)* $60,520 (medical and clinical laboratory technologists)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 14% (medical and clinical laboratory technologists)

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

Education Required

To become a laboratory technologist, you are required to have a Bachelor of Science degree in a field like biology or chemistry. Some of the classes you will be required to take include biology, physics, organic chemistry, microbiology and laboratory science. You also need to be certified with the American Medical Technologists, the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel or the American Society for Clinical Pathology. State licensure may also be required and consist of observed laboratory practice and written skills examinations.

Skills Required

A laboratory technologist needs to understand how to use sophisticated laboratory equipment, such as microscopes, cell counters and microcomputers. Technologists also need to know how to prepare spreadsheets, organize files and produce professional documents. Excellent communication skills are needed to work with other health care professionals.

Economic and Career Outlook

Laboratory technologists can find jobs in a variety of industries, including hospitals, government agencies, health care, insurance companies and universities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, states that, in 2015, the median salary for laboratory technologists was $60,520 per year. Job opportunities for laboratory technologists are expected to increase 14% from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as the average occupation, due to an increased number of aging individuals needing diagnostic testing, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Other relevant careers that may be of interest include the following:

Biological Technician

Normally having a bachelor's degree in biology or a similar field, these technicians assist medical and biological scientists with lab experiments and testing. The BLS projected average employment growth of 5% for these technicians from 2014-2024, and reported an annual median wage of $41,650 in 2015.

Chemist and Materials Scientist

At least a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a similar field is required, although research positions often call for a master's degree or a Ph.D. Chemists and materials scientists study the molecular and atomic levels of substances and their reactions toward each other. A slower than average job growth of 3% was anticipated by the BLS for these positions, overall, during the 2014-2024 decade. Chemists earned an annual median salary of $71,260 in 2015, while materials scientists took home $91,000, according to the BLS.

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