Certified Medical Tech Education Requirements and Job Duties

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified medical tech. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about education and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

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A medical technologist performs often complex tests and analysis of patient fluids and cells, and works with doctors to diagnose and monitor patient treatment. A medical technician performs less complex tests and analysis of patient fluids and cells, usually under the supervision of a medical technologist.

Essential Information

The term medical tech may apply to medical technologists or medical technicians. These professionals work in clinical laboratories, using high-tech equipment to test and analyze body fluid and cell samples. Medical technologists usually hold a bachelor's degree while medical technicians most frequently hold an associate's degree or a certificate.

Career Medical Technologist Medical Technicians
Education Requirements A bachelor's degree in medical technology or a natural science An associate's degree or certificate in medical or clinical lab technology
Licensure/Certification Required in some states and preferred by employers Required in some states and preferred by employers
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 14% (medical and clinical laboratory technologists) 18% (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)
Median Salary (2015)* $60,520 (medical and clinical laboratory technologists) $38,970 (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certified Medical Technologist Education Requirements

Most medical technologist or clinical laboratory technologist positions require that candidates hold a bachelor's degree in either medical technology or a natural science. Some technologist jobs can be obtained with a combination of hands-on training and formal lab tech training.

Degree programs for medical technology generally consist of three years of classroom study and one year of clinical experience. Medical technologist coursework covers biology, microbiology, chemistry, immunology and hematology. Additionally, students complete general education courses, which may include mathematics, statistics, computer science and management. Schools offering accredited programs in medical technology can be found at the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (www.naacls.org).

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Job Duties

Certified medical technologists work with physicians to make diagnoses and monitor a patient's treatment in hospital settings. Medical technologists perform complex tests and analyses of fluid and cell samples using advanced, state-of-the-art technology. This information is used to measure glucose or cholesterol levels, determine blood type or detect the presence of bacteria, parasites and other diseases. Additionally, medical technologists are expected to pay close attention to detail and demonstrate strong computer, analytical, problem-solving and communication skills.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment opportunities for medical and clinical lab technologists to grow by 14% between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Also according to the BLS, the median annual salary for medical technologists in May of 2015 was $60,520.

Certified Medical Technician Education Requirements

Medical technicians generally complete associate's degree or certificate programs in medical or clinical lab technology at technical or community colleges. These programs are typically two years in length, engaging students in basic sciences, like anatomy and physiology, chemistry and microbiology, as well as medical technician coursework in phlebotomy, hematology, serology and urinalysis. Students also participate in clinical practice, which offer hands-on experience performing tests and drawing blood in a clinical laboratory.

Job Duties

Medical technicians are responsible for executing tests and lab procedures, which are less complex than those performed by medical technologists. They test blood samples for chemical and drug levels, operate automated analyzers, prepare specimens for analysis and perform manual tests. Technicians customarily work under the supervision of medical technologists.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median salary for medical technicians was $38,970 in May 2015. Employment opportunities for medical and clinical lab technicians are expected to grow 18% between 2014 and 2024, which is notably faster than average.

A medical technologist usually requires a bachelor degree in a related field that may include clinical experience. A medical technician usually requires an associate degree or completion of a certificate program in a related field. Both careers are experiencing high growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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