Medical Laboratory Techs
|Recommended Degree Level||Associate|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||157,920|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.2%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||5,510|
What's Needed: Medical laboratory technicians typically need an associate's degree or a postsecondary certificate. Medical laboratory technologists usually need a bachelor's degree in medical technology, medical laboratory science or in life sciences.
What you study:
- Clinical laboratory skills
- Computer literacy
Briefly introduces the work of medical laboratory technicians. Produced for the US Department of Labor.
A Day in the Life
Medical laboratory techs work behind the scenes helping patients live healthier, longer lives. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians play a vital role in detecting, diagnosing and treating an array of diseases. As a medical laboratory tech you run tests on blood, body fluids, tissues and other samples using high-tech equipment. The test results help physicians determine the best treatment for their patients and occasionally lead to breakthroughs.
A typical day as a medical laboratory tech may involve matching blood from different donors for transfusions, examining fluids for bacteria or parasites, testing for drug levels in blood to determine how a patient is responding to treatment and analyzing the chemical content of fluids. A typical day may also include discussing the findings and results of laboratory tests and procedures with doctors.
During the day you'll utilize microscopes, cell counters and other tools. Advanced machines take care of much of the workload. As a medical laboratory tech you make sure tests are properly completed and ensure procedures are performed safely. Medical laboratory technicians also interpret results.
The more complicated procedures are usually performed by medical laboratory technologists, who typically need a bachelor's degree; medical laboratory technicians, who typically need an associate's degree, often work under th supervision of a medical laboratory technologist.
Certifications and Licensing
In some states laboratory personnel are required to be licensed or registered. Medical laboratory technologists typically need a bachelor's degree and also pass an exam to be licensed, however license requirements vary by speciality and state. To obtain specific requirements contact your state's department of health or board of occupational licensing.
In some states certification of medical laboratory technologists and technicians is required for licensure. Certification is not required for all jobs in the occupation, however usually employers seek certified medical laboratory technologists and technicians. Individuals can acquire a general certification as a medical technologist or technician. They can also obtain certification in a specialty such as medical biology or phlebotomy.
The following associations provide certification for medical laboratory technicians: American Medical Technologists, Board of Registry of the American Society of Clinical Pathology, Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts and the National Credentialing Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
Full-time versus part-time: Most medical laboratory techs work full-time. Medical laboratory techs working in facilities which operate around the clock, such as independent laboratories and hospitals, may work evenings, overnight hours or weekends.
Work location: Medical laboratory techs work in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, doctors' offices and government agencies.
- American Medical Technologists (AMT), a nonprofit certification agency, provides certification services to help health professionals enhance their professional growth. Those who receive certification automatically become members of the American Medical Technologist group and begin receiving benefits. AMT offers valuable continuing education. Also, students receive free membership which includes access to an online student forum, a discount on practice exams, access to career connections as well as scholarships and other recognition opportunities.
- The American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) offers an array of useful resources from its Student Center including information about awards and scholarships, certification information, a student forum and helpful information for new graduates including information about careers.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Handbook provides an overview of the various tasks performed by medical laboratory techs. The BLS also provides salary information, educational requirements and an employment growth forecast.