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Certified Lab Technician Job Description and Employment Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified lab technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A laboratory technician works directly with doctors and medical technologists to test blood and tissues for bacteria and parasites. These technicians first gain training through a certificate or degree program. Certification is available through multiple institutions or credentialing agencies once a degree program has been completed.

Essential Information

Certified laboratory technicians perform a variety of laboratory tests on tissue, blood, and other body products. The completion of a certificate or an associate's degree program is needed to become a lab technician, and most are certified for the work by at least one of several organizations offering such credentials. Persons interested in such a career should be comfortable with bodily fluids, be detail-oriented, and be able to work well with other technicians and medical professionals.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in clinical or medical laboratory technology
Certification Available through the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, American Medical Technologists and Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Medical and clinical laboratory technicians: 18%*
Median Salary (2015) Medical laboratory technicians: $38,970*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certified Lab Technician Job Description

Certified laboratory technicians, also known as clinical or medical laboratory technicians, play a critical part in diagnosing and treating disease. Under the supervision of a medical technologist, pathologist or doctor, certified lab technicians use both automated and manual equipment to examine and analyze cells, blood and bodily fluids. They also examine the chemical content of various fluids and search for parasites and bacteria.

Certified lab technicians should be able to use sophisticated laboratory equipment, such as cell counters, automated analyzers and microscopes. Certified lab technicians most commonly work in hospitals, physicians' offices, pharmaceutical laboratories, clinics and public health facilities. Specialization areas may include phlebotomy, microbiology and hematology.

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Training

A number of community colleges or technical schools offer associate's degree or certificate programs in laboratory technology and medical laboratory technology. Topics covered include anatomy and physiology, immunology, lab safety techniques, hematology, microbiology and urinalysis. Laboratory technicians may seek certification through a number of organizations, including the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, American Medical Technologists and Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for medical laboratory technicians is expected to increase 18% between 2014 and 2024 (BLS). This increase will be due to population growth and the development of new laboratory tests coming into general use. The median annual salary for medical lab technicians was $38,970 in May, 2015.

The BLS also notes that hospitals are expected to continue to be the primary employer of lab technicians. Increases in other settings are expected as well, including physicians' offices and diagnostic laboratories.

People interested in becoming certified lab technicians should be comfortable working with blood and other body fluids and tissues. Through their education program, lab technicians gain an understanding of advanced laboratory equipment as well as lab safety techniques, and learn microbiology and immunology. Certified laboratory technicians can find employment in hospitals, pharmaceutical labs, and doctor's offices.

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