For those seeking employment as a hospital technician, completion of a certificate program is the minimum entry-level qualification needed, although candidates generally hold an associate's degree in the health sciences. Additionally, some employers request prior work experience in clinics or laboratories, which can be fulfilled during educational programs or through entry-level job training.
These programs may be offered in phlebotomy, which focuses on collecting blood samples for analysis, or the broader field of clinical laboratory technology. Following program completion, obtaining licensure may be required depending on the state in which the graduate wants to work.
Certificate in Phlebotomy
Aspiring hospital technicians may obtain entry-level training by completing a certificate in phlebotomy, which is part of the clinical laboratory sciences field. Lab work is included in these programs, which usually last one to two semesters. Students complete coursework in blood collection that cover topics like:
- Microcollection techniques
- Medical terminology
- Healthcare ethics.
Associate of Applied Science in Clinical Laboratory Technology
An associate's degree program in clinical laboratory technology, sometimes called medical laboratory technology, allows students to train on a variety of up-to-date equipment. Associate's degree programs take two years to complete and require students to spend time in on-campus laboratories and hospitals. Core topics that are covered include:
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment for medical and clinical laboratory technologist and technicians, including hospital technicians, from 2014 to 2024 is expected to grow 16%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These professionals made a median annual wage of $50,550 as of May 2015, per BLS data.
Continuing Education Information
Certain states require that hospital technicians be licensed prior to being employed; educational and exam requirements vary by state. Although not required, many employers prefer that applicants be certified by a professional organization. Organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Association of Bioanalysts and American Medical Technologists offer certification examinations to laboratory professionals including phlebotomy technicians and medical laboratory technicians. Certification eligibility requirements vary depending on the organization.
With additional experience and education, clinical laboratory technicians can become clinical laboratory technologists. Students must complete a bachelor's degree program in clinical laboratory science, medical technology or related health sciences field. Technologists perform diagnostic tests on patients just as technicians do, but they also complete more complex tasks, such as analyzing chemical components in blood and cross-matching blood samples for transfusions. Also, some hospital technologists can supervise hospital technicians.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities offer workshops or seminars for technicians on managing changes in technology, among other topics. Conferences can last several days, covering a wide range of health-related topics and allowing professionals opportunities to network with others. Webinars, in which professionals can learn about updates in the industry, are also becoming a popular option.
A Certificate in Phlebotomy is sufficient for some individuals wanting an entry-level job as a hospital technician. However, associate's degree programs in clinical laboratory technology better prepare students and are often sought after by employers along with clinical experience and licensure.