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Become An Assistant Laboratory Technician

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Working As An Assistant Laboratory Technician

  • Processing Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Repetitive

  • $42,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Assistant Laboratory Technician Do

Medical laboratory technologists (commonly known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.

Duties

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Analyze body fluids, such as blood, urine, and tissue samples, and record normal or abnormal findings
  • Study blood samples for use in transfusions by identifying the number of cells, the cell morphology or the blood group, blood type, and compatibility with other blood types
  • Operate sophisticated laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and cell counters
  • Use automated equipment and computerized instruments capable of performing a number of tests at the same time
  • Log data from medical tests and enter results into a patient’s medical record
  • Discuss results and findings of laboratory tests and procedures with physicians
  • Supervise or train medical laboratory technicians

Both technicians and technologists perform tests and procedures that physicians and surgeons or other healthcare personnel order. However, technologists perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians do. For example, technologists may prepare specimens and perform detailed manual tests, whereas technicians perform routine tests that may be more automated. Medical laboratory technicians usually work under the general supervision of medical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers.

Technologists in small laboratories perform many types of tests; in large laboratories, they sometimes specialize. The following are examples of types of specialized medical laboratory technologists:

Blood bank technologists, or immunohematology technologists, collect blood, classify it by type, and prepare blood and its components for transfusions. 

Clinical chemistry technologists prepare specimens and analyze the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluids. 

Cytotechnologists prepare slides of body cells and examine these cells with a microscope for abnormalities that may signal the beginning of a cancerous growth. 

Immunology technologists examine elements of the human immune system and its response to foreign bodies. 

Microbiology technologists examine and identify bacteria and other microorganisms. 

Molecular biology technologists perform complex protein and nucleic acid tests on cell samples.

Like technologists, medical laboratory technicians may work in several areas of the laboratory or specialize in one particular area. For example, histotechnicians cut and stain tissue specimens for pathologists, who are doctors who study the cause and development of diseases at a microscopic level.

Technologists and technicians often specialize after they have worked in a particular area for a long time or have received advanced education or training in that area.

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How To Become An Assistant Laboratory Technician

Medical laboratory technologists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Technicians usually need an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed.

Education

An entry-level job for technologists usually requires a bachelor's degree in medical technology or life sciences.

A bachelor’s degree program in medical laboratory technology, also known as a medical laboratory scientist degree, includes courses in chemistry, biology, microbiology, math, and statistics. Coursework emphasizes laboratory skills, including safety procedures and lab management.

The courses may be offered through a university or hospital-based program that students attend during their senior year of college. College graduates who major in other sciences and meet a program’s prerequisites, such as having completed required courses in biology and chemistry or maintaining a certain GPA, also may apply to a medical laboratory science program.

Medical laboratory technicians often complete an associate’s degree program in clinical laboratory science. A limited number of 1-year certificate programs are available from hospitals, and admission requirements vary. The Armed Forces and vocational or technical schools also may offer certificate programs for medical laboratory technicians. Technician coursework addresses the theoretical and practical aspects of each of the major laboratory disciplines.

High school students who are interested in pursuing a career in the medical laboratory sciences should take classes in chemistry, biology, and math.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed. Requirements vary by state and specialty. For specific requirements, contact state departments of health, state boards of occupational licensing, or visit The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.

Certification of medical laboratory technologists and technicians is required for licensure in some states. Although certification is not required to enter the occupation in all cases, employers typically prefer to hire certified technologists and technicians.

Medical laboratory technologists and technicians can obtain a general certification as a medical laboratory technologist or technician, respectively, or a certification in a specialty, such as cytotechnology or medical biology. Most credentialing institutions require that technologists complete an accredited education program in order to qualify to sit for an exam. For more credentialing information, visit the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Important Qualities

Ability to use technology. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must understand how to operate complex machinery.

Detail oriented. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians must follow exact instructions in order to perform tests or procedures correctly.

Dexterity. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians need to be skilled with their hands. They work closely with needles and precise laboratory instruments and must handle these tools effectively.

Physical stamina. Medical laboratory technologists and technicians may work on their feet for long periods while collecting samples. They may need to lift or turn disabled patients to collect samples for testing.

Advancement

After additional education, work experience, or certification, technologists and technicians may specialize in one of many areas of laboratory science, such as immunology, histotechnology, or clinical chemistry. Some medical laboratory technicians advance to technologist positions after gaining experience and additional education.

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Assistant Laboratory Technician Career Paths

Assistant Laboratory Technician
Technician Team Leader Assistant Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Team Leader Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Technician Team Leader Operations Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Quality Assurance Technician Quality Assurance Supervisor
Quality Assurance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Field Technician Field Service Technician
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Research Associate Consultant
Information Technology Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Specialist Consultant
Product Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Officer Manager
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Officer Supervisor
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Patient Care Coordinator Office Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Specialist Shift Supervisor
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Medical Assistant Patient Care Coordinator Case Manager
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Manager
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Driver Instructor Research Associate
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Driver Field Service Technician Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Maintenance Technician Field Service Technician
Senior Technologist
5 Yearsyrs
Assistant Consultant Program Manager
Associate Director
8 Yearsyrs
Assistant Instructor Doctoral Fellow
Senior Research Associate
6 Yearsyrs
Specialist Research Associate Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Director
9 Yearsyrs
Phlebotomist Medical Technologist Medical Technologist, Generalist
Medical Technologist Lead
5 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Service Technician 3.4 years
Repair Technician 3.1 years
Technician 2.7 years
Field Technician 2.4 years
Laboratory Aide 1.9 years
Junior Technician 1.7 years
Top Careers Before Assistant Laboratory Technician
Cashier 11.7%
Internship 10.8%
Technician 6.2%
Volunteer 5.2%
Assistant 3.3%
Cook 2.9%
Server 2.8%
Top Careers After Assistant Laboratory Technician
Technician 9.7%
Internship 7.3%
Cashier 7.0%
Server 4.6%
Volunteer 3.9%
Manager 3.7%
Assistant 3.7%
Specialist 3.0%
Associate 2.9%
Driver 2.9%

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Top Skills for An Assistant Laboratory Technician

  1. Computer Hardware
  2. Procedures
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Repaired and replaced computer hardware.
  • Maintained laboratory equipment to safety standards to ensure the integrity of future procedures and data validity.
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction level through demonstration of excellent customer service protocols and swift complaint follow up.
  • Cleaned lab equipment Weighed samples for analysis Prepared samples for spectroscopy and analysis Organized new and used samples
  • Provided all the necessary technical support to enable the laboratory to operation effectively.

Assistant Laboratory Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

62.8%

Female

26.7%

Unknown

10.4%
Ethnicity

White

57.3%

Hispanic or Latino

18.5%

Black or African American

11.7%

Asian

8.6%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

56.1%

French

12.9%

Arabic

5.3%

Chinese

4.1%

Mandarin

2.9%

German

2.9%

Hindi

2.3%

Gujarati

1.8%

Russian

1.8%

Italian

1.2%

Kurdish

1.2%

Fuzhou

1.2%

Portuguese

1.2%

Hebrew

1.2%

Polish

1.2%

Swedish

0.6%

Somali

0.6%

Korean

0.6%

Danish

0.6%

Bosnian

0.6%
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Assistant Laboratory Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

8.7%

Universal Technical Institute

7.8%

Washington State University

7.8%

Michigan State University

6.9%

Purdue University

5.5%

Northern Virginia Community College

5.0%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.6%

North Carolina State University

4.6%

Texas Tech University

4.6%

University of California - Davis

4.6%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.6%

Western Michigan University

4.6%

The Academy

4.1%

University of Central Florida

4.1%

Texas A&M University

4.1%

University of Florida

3.7%

Temple University

3.7%

University of Texas at Austin

3.7%

Florida State University

3.7%

University of Colorado at Boulder

3.7%
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Majors

Business

13.3%

Biology

12.2%

Computer Science

7.5%

Electrical Engineering

7.3%

Mechanical Engineering

6.3%

Automotive Technology

5.2%

Criminal Justice

4.5%

Psychology

4.4%

Medical Assisting Services

4.3%

General Studies

3.8%

Chemistry

3.7%

Communication

3.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.3%

Nursing

3.3%

Liberal Arts

3.3%

Computer Information Systems

3.0%

Chemical Engineering

2.9%

Graphic Design

2.8%

Management

2.7%

Information Technology

2.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.0%

Other

24.3%

Associate

13.0%

Masters

9.5%

Certificate

5.0%

Diploma

3.1%

Doctorate

1.8%

License

0.4%
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