If completing labs was your favorite part of science class, then becoming a medical laboratory technician may be right for you. Because the quality of care a doctor or nurse is able to give a patient is often determined by test results, medical laboratory technicians have an important role to play in the American health care system.
What do medical laboratory technicians do?
Simply put, medical laboratory technicians collect samples from patients and analyze their tissues, bodily fluids and other substances. Their work aids in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Medical laboratory technicians work with medical laboratory technologists, who supervise them. Technicians have a variety of responsibilities in addition to analysis, including recording data, issuing reports and ensuring that the laboratory is clean and testing equipment is properly calibrated.1
What training do I need?
To become a medical laboratory technician, you will need to earn an associate degree in medical laboratory technology. In high school, it’s a good idea to take classes like mathematics, chemistry and biology – they all offer basic skills that will be helpful when earning an associate degree to become a technician. Licensure may also increase your chances of employability.2
Should I have any other skills?
Because timely lab results are such an important component of patient care, medical laboratory technicians will need to have the ability to work efficiently under pressure and master basic computer skills. Working in a lab also requires great attention to detail and dexterity that will allow you to handle testing equipment with ease. In addition, medical laboratory technicians must master certain technical skills to operate the complex machinery needed to do their jobs. However, these skills can be gained in the process of earning an associate degree.
What is the work environment like?
Medical laboratory technicians generally work in hospitals and diagnostic laboratories, although some also hold jobs in physicians offices. Technicians can expect to work in an environment in an environment with hazards such as biological, chemical, electrical, in which universal precautions are key. Technicians must wear protective masks, gloves and goggles while working.1
How is the employment outlook?
The occupational outlook for medical laboratory technicians is stable, with employment between 2010 and 2020 growing about as fast as average. The mean annual income of technicians is $46,680, or $22.44 per hour. Because America has both a growing and an aging population, job growth for medical laboratory technicians is likely to continue.1
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, ‘Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians,’ April 6, 2012 - http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm
2 Locsin, Aurelio, Houston Chronicle, ‘What Does a Medical Lab Technician Do,’ 2013 - http://work.chron.com/medical-lab-technician-do-15514.html