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 2017)*||$51,770 (medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||12% (medical and clinical laboratory technologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
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.
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 2017, the median salary for laboratory technologists and technicians was $51,770 per year. Job opportunities for laboratory technologists are expected to increase 12% from 2016-2026, which is faster than 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:
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 10% for these technicians from 2016-2026, and reported an annual median wage of $43,800 in 2017.
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. Average job growth of 7% was anticipated by the BLS for these positions, overall, during the 2016-2026 decade. Chemists earned an annual median salary of $74,740 in 2017, while materials scientists took home $99,530, according to the BLS.