Medical Laboratory Technician Education Requirements and Career Info

Sep 15, 2019

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

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Medical laboratory technicians process specimens in medical laboratories using specialized equipment. This position usually requires completion of a program leading to a certificate or an associate's degree. Certification and licensing may be required by some states.

Essential Information

Medical laboratory technicians, working in hospital labs or independent medical laboratories, process and analyze medical specimens and operate an array of laboratory equipment. They typically complete a certificate or associate's degree program in medical technology or clinical laboratory sciences.

Required Education Associate's degree
Other Requirements Certification and licensure required by some states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 11% for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians*
Mean Annual Wage (2015) $52,330 for medical and clinical laboratory technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Medical Laboratory Technicians

Technical schools, vocational schools and community colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs in medical technology. Some hospitals also award certificates. Several accredited programs offer lecture courses online, though they still require hands-on lab work. Applicants to medical lab technology programs should have a high school diploma with courses in chemistry, biology, math and English. An associate's degree is recommended for students planning to qualify for a certification exam.

Curriculum Info

Certificate programs offer an overview of medical subjects, including medical terminology, anatomy, basic chemistry, clinical procedures and laboratory analysis. Associate's degree programs include more subject areas, such as physiology, informatics, microbiology, hematology, phlebotomy, urinalysis, immunology and parasitology. An internship in a laboratory or clinic generally serves to complement classroom work.

Career Info

Jobs for medical technicians can be found in a central hospital laboratory or in separate departments within a clinical setting, like microbiology, chemistry, hematology or pathology. Private testing facilities analyze samples sent in from private care facilities, smaller clinics and home health care agencies. These companies also employ medical laboratory technicians, as do police forensics departments, criminology labs and private medical research firms.

Job Description

Medical laboratory technicians follow rigorous specimen-handling protocols, prepare samples for analysis and operate many types of testing equipment. For manual analysis, medical lab technicians must recognize different types of cells, medical structures and anomalies. Lab techs need to be familiar with the methods used to count them, compare them to other samples and record images for further analysis. Some medical technicians conduct the same few tests repetitively all day long, but others perform dozens of different procedures daily.

Laboratory technicians work independently, supervised by a medical technologist, physician or laboratory manager. Employers frequently offer on-the-job training or contribute financially to medical laboratory technicians who pursue an advanced degree program.

Certification Info

Professional certification as a medical laboratory technician is offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (www.ascp.org), American Medical Technologists (www.amt1.com) and the American Association of Bioanalysts (www.aab.org). All three require applicants to have an associate's degree or 60 semester hours of credits in accredited programs with varying degrees of career experience. A qualifying examination is another step within certification. Some states require that medical laboratory technicians be licensed.

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the average annual wage in 2018 for a medical and clinical laboratory technician was $52,330. Job prospects were predicted to be 11%, much faster than the job market as a whole from 2018 to 2028 for both medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians (www.bls.gov).

Improved technology may create more tests for medical laboratory technicians to perform. However, improvements may also simplify testing protocols, perhaps reducing the number of techs needed to cover a hospital's needs.

Certification requirements for medical laboratory technicians vary but may include completion of a certificate or associate's degree program, experience in the field, and passing an exam. The job growth outlook for medical laboratory technicians is much faster than the job market as a whole.

Medical laboratory technician handles very intricate equipment and other instruments to test fluids such as urine, blood, etc. To become a medical laboratory technician, use these information as guide for you to become one.

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