Clinical Lab Technologist Vs Technician

Hospitals and clinics need a variety of experts to run them properly. This article discusses two types of positions that are available in clinical or medical laboratories.

Comparing Clinical Lab Technologists to Technicians

Clinical lab technologists and technicians often work in the same clinics or labs. They collect biological testing samples and run exams on blood, urine, swabs and other samples. Even though they often have the same responsibilities, there are some major differences when it comes to more complicated testing. Below is a comparison of the two careers as well as some important information.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2016) Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Clinical Lab Technologist Bachelor's degree $61,070 14%*
Clinical Lab Technicians Associate's or postsecondary certificate $38,950 18%*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Clinical Lab Technologists vs. Technicians

Clinical lab technologists and technicians are tasked with testing biological samples from patients as per doctor's orders. They operate various types of testing equipment and need to maintain their accuracy. Technologists and technicians record the results for doctors and billing personnel. Technologists are expected to run more complicated exams at times while technicians generally work under the supervision of other technologists or lab managers.

Clinical Lab Technologists

Technologists usually have more formal education than technicians. Often, if they work in large labs that specialize in specific laboratory testing such as clinical chemistry, microbiology, immunology, or others. In smaller labs, technologists are expected to do a variety of testing. They will be in charge of sophisticated microscope equipment for testing cell counts and maintaining the equipment and supplies. Technologists in most labs will also prepare specimens. They might gather samples for tests on blood compatibility, cell counts, and typing.

Job responsibilities of a clinical lab technologist include:

  • Prepare specimen samples
  • Use modern testing equipment
  • Communicate lab findings with physicians and related health professionals
  • Supervise lab technicians


Clinical lab technicians often work in hospitals or clinical laboratories. They might also work for private laboratories, doctor's offices or universities. Like technologists, they are tasked with collecting biological samples for different exams according to doctor's orders. Technicians normally collect the samples they need for the test such as blood, urine, bile, or tissue, and then run general, automated tests. They record results in the medical records of patients or in larger labs, record results for clients.

Job responsibilities of a technician include:

  • Collect lab samples as ordered by doctors, lab technologists or registered nurses
  • Utilize and maintain some testing equipment
  • Prepare a variety of blood testing
  • Record all results in medical records

Related Careers

Clinical lab technologists and technicians do a lot of the same things in a medical laboratory with some differences. There are several related positions available such as becoming a biological technician working under the direction of a biologist or other scientist testing biological samples. Another field might be as a materials scientist who studies how substances interact and react.

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