Medical Lab Technician Career Description

You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to work in the medical field. Many hospitals and other medical organizations are in need of support staff, including medical lab technicians. With this job, you can work in a fast-paced, interesting environment, but you don’t have to go to school for ten years! In fact, you can get a job working as a medical lab technician with one to four years of training.

As a medical lab technician, you’ll be as responsible for a patient’s care as a doctor, but without actually dealing with patients in most cases. Instead, you’ll work to present lab results to doctors, who will make judgment calls based on each patient. Your exact duties will depend on the type of medical laboratory where you work. Some of these include:

  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Clinical Microbiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Hematology
  • Genetics

In most hospitals and clinics, the microbiology lab is the largest, encompassing bacteriology, virology, parasitology, immunology, and mycology labs. In a lab setting, you’ll use equipment to study tissue, blood, and other samples from patients to help diagnose diseases, create cures, and otherwise study the human body. Every day is different as a medical lab technician.

Becoming a Medical Lab Technician

Training as a medical lab technician starts with relevant classes in high school, including high levels of math, science, and computer information technology. Following high school, look for an accredited medical lab technician associate’s degree program. This is the quickest way to get you on your way to a career as a medical lab technician. Alternatively, there are four-year degree programs for those who want advanced training. If you decide to pursue a higher degree, you can increase your job prospects as well as your salary. After school, you’ll need to take one of the national certification tests, administered by:

  • The Board of Registry of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists
  • The National Certification Agency for Medical Laboratory Personnel
  • The American Medical Technologists

As of 2006, there were 95,000 medical, dental, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians in the United States. From 2006 to 2016, medial lab technician job demand is expected to grow by about nine percent, which is about average when compared to other careers in the U.S. You won’t get rich quick with this career choice, as median hourly wage is just around $17, but if you stick with your career choice and advance in the field, you could make more than $27 per hour. The amount of money you can earn depends on education, location, experience, and other factors.

Although most medical lab technicians work at hospitals, there are other places where you can find a job as well, including research facilities, crime laboratories, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and biomed companies. You can even pursue a career as a medical lab technician in the military, and if you enjoy working with animals, you can switch your focus and work as a veterinary lab technician instead of working with humans. There are a large number of degree options available to students depending on your career goals.

Working in a medical laboratory requires a high level of responsibility, manual dexterity, and the ability to work well under pressure. In this career field, however, you really can make a difference in people’s lives, even if you’re not interested in becoming a doctor. Check out medical lab technician programs at schools online or in your area today to learn more about this career path. And if you’re ready to take the next step in starting your education, you can click on any number of the schools listed on our site to request free information about their degree programs. Don’t wait! Get started on a path to a better career today!

Online Medical Lab Tech Degrees

For those looking to become a medical laboratory technician, a minimum of a two-year associate's degree in health science or a closely related healthcare subject is usually required to gain an entry-level position in the field. For those looking for more advancement, a bachelor's degree is recommended. There are numerous accredited online schools that offer such degrees, listed below.

Kaplan University — One of the biggest online schools in the nation, Kaplan University provides many online degrees to help you begin a Medical Lab Technician career. While the degrees build a foundation in healthcare that carries throughout your career, more training may be required for your desired position. Kaplan's programs include associate degrees in medical assisting, medical transcription, human services, and health information technology.

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