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Medical Laboratory Technologist Career Advancement

Medical laboratory technologists have developed skills in analyzing samples to assist with the diagnosis of illness. Their understanding of analysis may lead them to other careers in science or to specialized roles in the medical lab.

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Career Growth Opportunities for Medical Laboratory Technologists

Medical laboratory technologists play an important role in helping clinicians to diagnose illnesses. They use laboratory equipment to test patient samples and provide the results to physicians. After working in this field, some medical laboratory technologists may wish to pursue other opportunities in science or specialty areas within medical labs.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)* Qualifications
Chemist $76,280 (chemists and material scientists) 2017* 7% (chemists and material scientists) Graduate degree recommended
Laboratory Manager $66,599 (2018)** 10% (natural sciences managers) Experience and leadership
Cytotechnologist $65,836 (2018)** 12% (medical and clinical laboratory technologists) Post-baccalaureate certificate; certification recommended
Histotechnologist $53,111 (2018)** 12% (medical and clinical laboratory technologists) Certification recommended

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

Career Information

Chemist

Medical lab technologists have extensive experience performing tests using laboratory equipment. This skill translates well into pursuing a career as a chemist to conduct research at the molecular level. They prepare substances that are used in laboratory studies and present their findings to other professionals via written reports. The field of clinical chemistry is particularly relevant as it involves measuring chemicals in bodily fluid samples. Chemists can enter the field holding a bachelor's degree; however, a master's or doctoral degree is required for higher-level research positions. Clinical chemists will likely need a doctoral degree.

Laboratory Manager

Medical laboratory technologists with experience who wish to pursue managerial functions may consider promoting to clinical laboratory manager. Lab managers are responsible for organizing the medical laboratory, designing tests, and supervising employees. They ensure that lab procedures are conducted with appropriate quality. They must also handle personnel issues and take care of scheduling. Lab managers typically hold a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree may be preferred. The main qualification for these professionals is experience and leadership as technologists in the lab.

Cytotechnologist

Some medical lab technologists may wish to specialize in specific fields within medical laboratory science, such as cytotechnology. Cytotechnologists consult with pathologists and provide information on cell variations to aid in the diagnosing of diseases. They may take a sample from a tumor to determine the presence of cancer, for example. Cytotechnologists work in hospitals, universities, and clinics. Technologists with a bachelor's degree can earn a certificate in cytotechnology to advance into this career. Candidates can then earn the recommended professional certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification.

Histotechnologist

Medical laboratory technologists may consider advancing to a career as a histotechnologist. Histotechnologists specialize in processing bodily tissues and organs for examination. For example, they may slice and stain tissue biopsies and deliver them for analysis to a pathologist. They must be familiar with the equipment used to prepare and analyze specimens. They perform a range of specialized testing procedures on these samples, such as enzyme histochemistry and flow cytometry. Histotechnologists typically have a bachelor's degree in histotechnology; most employers require professional certification, which can be obtained from the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

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