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How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician

In the United States, the medical laboratory technician career covers a huge portion of the bulk of medical laboratory employees and professionals that amount to more than 300,000. As stated by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP), health professionals that bear the title “medical laboratory technicians” are tasked to accurately find or locate possible clues that would determine a specific disease’s presence or absence, as well as a disease’s triggers and extent or severity. Furthermore, these medical workers enact various laboratory tests with the required skill and efficiency in order to ensure topnotch care of and attendance to patients.

[divider]Quick Facts [/divider]

  • Median Salary $46,680/year or $22.44/hour
  • Education Requirements Associate’s degree
  • Professionals Employed 330,600
  • 10 Years Job Outlook 13%
  • 10 Years Job Growth 42,900

What are Medical Laboratory Technicians?

Medical laboratory technicians are directly supervised and guided by a medical technologist or MT. This health team carries out their duties in a medical laboratory where they work with several laboratory instruments, and aid the preparation and analysis of human blood, cell, and human tissue samples or specimens. Alongside the MTs, medical laboratory technicians are responsible for the detection of presence of malignancies, parasites, abnormalities in the genetic make-up, and bacteria in the blood, cell, or tissue samples of patients. These professionals can also enact specific medical functions such as blood testing and blood typing. Basically, medical laboratory technicians’ duties are similar to that of medical technologists.

Are you interested in a career as a medical laboratory technician?  If you are, it is important to know about the educational requirements of the job, what the job consists of and what the job conditions are like, and of course the salary associated with this field.

To begin, the good news is that this field is considered to be a field with excellent opportunities for employment.  It is most likely that the job would be at a hospital.  The job of a medical laboratory technician is to treat, detect, and also to diagnose different types of conditions and diseases.  They spend a good deal of their time examining cells and also analyzing body fluids.  They are looking for different microorganisms that could be present, they test the drug levels that are in the patient’s blood, and they also are responsible in some cases for matching blood for transfusions.

What do Medical Lab Techs Do?

A medical laboratory technician must be able to use lab equipment including items such as cell counters and microscopes.  They also will utilize computerized instruments that are able to run a number of tests.  Once they have examined a specimen, they will be able to analyze the results of it and then pass on the results to the patient’s doctor.  Because there has been more technological advances in terms of computers, technicians now have to be more analytical rather than as hands-on as they once were.  The difficulty of the assignments and tests that they have to be in charge of will depend on the amount of education that has been acquired as well as their experience in the field.

A laboratory technician will complete tests and procedures that are not quite as complex as those that are able to be performed by the laboratory technologists.  Typically a clinical technician will be working with supervision from clinical lab technologists or managers in the laboratory.  Some of the technicians may have a particular specialty, such as a phlebotomist which collects the blood samples.  A histotechnician is another type of specialty that focuses solely on specimens of cut and stain tissue.

If you are a medical laboratory technician, you will be trained so that you can work with specimens that are infectious.  There are not many hazards when you use the proper sterilization as well as appropriate infection control.  This means that you will probably be wearing goggles, gloves, protective masks, and a lab coat to stay safe.  You can expect that you will probably be on your feet a lot.  Medical laboratory technicians will work all different shifts.  Some work in the day, some work evenings, and even some will work the overnight shift.  Some are also needed to work on the weekends.

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician

The best way to jumpstart a medical laboratory technician career is by gaining enough preparation and background in high school level science courses such as biology, math, chemistry, and even computer science. High school graduates should then enroll in a two-year associate’s degree which is normally offered in community colleges, universities, and vocational or technical academic institutions. Once this degree has been completed, a student should then finish a complete coursework in medical laboratory technology from an accredited school. Medical laboratory technicians who would opt to finish a bachelor’s degree can then take on a medical technologist’s job as per the ASCP’s medical career rules and guidelines.

The ASCP and BLS state that the country’s need for medical laboratory technicians, just like other medical professionals, is great. In fact, 50% of the recognized medical laboratories in the US are consistently hiring these professionals.

The work of medical laboratory technicians is quite significant when it comes to offering reliable and accurate care for patients. Although this job does not require a person to directly interact or get involved with patients, a medical laboratory technician career is still highly rewarding due to its utter relevance in the medical industry.

Training Needed to Become Medical Lab Tech

Now you would probably like to know about the education and training that are necessary for a job as a medical laboratory technician.  Typically you will be required to have a major in a life science, preferably in medical technology.  Yet it is also possible in some cases to get a job if you have some college education as well as some training that has been specialized and on the job.  The bachelor’s degree programs will involve classes in microbiology, in statistics, in math, in the biological sciences, as well as classes that are specific to this job.  Check with your state for specific requirements, as some states do require those who work in laboratories to be licensed or else registered.  This may mean that you need a bachelor’s degree as well as having passed an exam.  As a medical laboratory technician, you should pay attention to detail.  You need to be a good problem solver.  You will need to have very good fine motor skills and having normal color vision is necessary.  It is also beneficial to have good skills with the computer.

If you are currently a technician, you will be able to become a technologist if you continue with your education and you get more experience.  You can also move forward into a position in which you are supervising.  If you choose to go on and get a graduate degree in the field of medical technology or you get professional certification in management, chemistry, or another biological science, you should be able to move forward into a higher skilled job.  If you have a doctorate degree, then you will be able to become a director of a laboratory.

Medical Laboratory Technician Salary

Medical technicians, just like the rest of the professionals in the medical or health industry, get to enjoy a rather competitive remuneration package. The average yearly salary for medical laboratory technicians is $32,840. Meanwhile, the top ten highest paid professionals who practice this career are said to earn as much as $50,250 a year. Medical laboratory technicians who work for universities and hospitals are normally paid higher compared to those who are employed in small-scale laboratory clinics or in a private physician’s office. These figures are provided by United State’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).