Students in lab technology associate's programs must participate in clinical experiences at area healthcare facilities. General education coursework is part of the curriculum as well. Some states and employers require that lab technicians hold professional certification, but standards vary. Students entering the program should have an interest in health sciences and data interpretation.
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Associate's Degree in Laboratory Technology
The coursework in the associate's degree combines broad science courses with classes about specific lab tests, computer software, and special hardware. Most programs require clinical rotations to ensure practical experience. Courses may include:
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and clinical laboratory technicians earn a mean annual salary of $41,420 as of May 2015 (BLS). Employment opportunities for these technicians were expected to increase by 18% from 2014-2024. This growth was expected as a result of the aging of the population and the corresponding greater need to diagnose medical conditions.
Most employers prefer that clinical technicians be certified before they are employed. Multiple agencies can provide certification, but requirements vary from state to state. Students may also choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in medical technology, which will help prepare them to obtain a license as a medical technologist.
Associate's programs in laboratory technology include clinical lab experiences and lecture-style courses to prepare students for work as laboratory technicians. These programs can also prepare students for professional certification, which is sometimes required by the state and often preferred by employers. Graduates can pursue bachelor's degrees as well.