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Clinical Lab Tech Career Info, Duties and Employment Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a clinical lab tech. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about job options and salary statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

Clinical lab techs are classified into two categories. A clinical laboratory technician performs routine medical lab tests to diagnose, prevent and treat disease, while a clinical laboratory technologist performs more complex tests. The following information details the educational requirements and job outlook for clinical lab techs.

Essential Information

There are two types of clinical lab techs - clinical laboratory technologists and clinical lab technicians. The demand for both clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is greater than average, and their work environments and employers are diverse. While these careers have similarities, they require different levels of education - technicians carry out less complex procedures than the technologists.

Required Education Associate's degree for clinical lab technicians; Bachelor's degree for clinical lab technologists
Other Requirements License may be required in some states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16% for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
Average Salary (2015)* $41,420 annually for medical and clinical laboratory technicians; $61,860 annually for medical and clinical laboratory technologists

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

Career Info, Duties and Employment Options

Clinical lab techs fall under two categories: technologists and technicians. While both clinical lab technologists and clinical lab technicians perform similar duties, their jobs vary in many ways. In general, clinical lab personnel perform tests that detect, diagnose and treat diseases. They also examine and analyze cells and body fluids, look for microorganisms in the body and test how patients respond to drug treatments.

Clinical Laboratory Technologists Career Info

Clinical laboratory technologists usually need a bachelor's degree in medical technology, biology or some other type of life science. Some clinical laboratory technicians qualify for jobs by combining education with on-the-job and specialized training offered by hospitals and universities.

In some states, clinical lab technologists must be licensed or registered. Criteria for licensure varies by state and specialty, but it generally involves obtaining a bachelor's degree and passing an examination. Employers may prefer clinical lab technologists who are certified by recognized professional associations, such as the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel or American Medical Technologists.

Job Duties

Clinical lab technologists prepare lab specimens, perform complex tests, evaluate test results, ensure the accuracy of tests and sometimes supervise clinical lab technicians. Clinical lab technologists who work in large laboratories generally work in clinical chemistry, microbiology, immunohematology, immunology, cytotechnology or molecular biology.

Clinical Laboratory Technicians Career Info

Clinical laboratory technicians usually need an associate's degree from a community college or a certificate from a vocational school, hospital or the Armed Forces. Some clinical laboratory technicians receive on-the-job training. Many employers prefer to hire clinical lab technicians with professional association certification. Such associations include the Board of Certification of the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts.

Job Duties

Clinical lab technicians carry out less complex procedures than their counterparts. They may prepare specimens, run analysis equipment and perform tests by hand. Clinical lab technicians sometimes work under the supervision of laboratory managers and clinical lab technologists; areas of specialization may include phlebotomy and histotechnology.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 16% job growth for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported that the average annual salary for medical and clinical laboratory technologists was $61,860 in 2015; concurrently, the average annual salary for medical and clinical laboratory technicians was $41,420.

Clinical laboratory technologists require a higher degree of education and perform more complex operations in the lab in order to diagnose, prevent, and treat disease. This can involve testing bodily fluids, such as blood and urine, as well as maintaining and operating the equipment used in these tests. A clinical laboratory technician performs a similar job, but requires only an associate's degree and performs more routine lab operations, and work is typically done under direct supervision of a laboratory technologist.


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