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Become A Laboratory Technician

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Working As A Laboratory Technician

  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $49,720

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 A 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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38 Laboratory Technician jobs

Sunbelt Staffing
Ashburn, VA
MLT / MT Lab Tech in Ashburn, VA

$56,997 Estimated

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Ashburn, VA
Research Specialist (Focused Ion Beam SEM) Laboratory of Dr. Harald Hess and Advanced Imaging Center (AIC)

$60,000 Estimated

Flexcare Medical Staffing
Washington, DC
Cath Lab Tech

$49,720 Estimated

Camris International
Bethesda, MD
STOPS LABORATORY TECHNICIAN 1 (AZ)

$32,240 Estimated

Sunbelt Staffing
Falls Church, VA
Cath Lab Tech Job - Falls Church, VA

$49,720 Estimated

Soliant
Arlington, VA
Travel Cath Lab Tech Job Open

$49,720 Estimated

Healthcare Traveler Jobs
Alexandria, VA
Cardiac Cath Lab Technician

$49,720 Estimated

Supplemental Health Care
Falls Church, VA
Travel Cardiac Cath Lab Tech

$49,720 Estimated

Travel Healthcare Jobs
Alexandria, VA
Cardiac Cath Lab Technician

$49,720 Estimated

Medpro Healthcare Staffing
Alexandria, VA
Cath Lab Tech - 13 Week Contract

$49,720 Estimated

Chenega Corporation
Silver Spring, MD
Lab Technician I

$32,240 Estimated

Sunbelt Staffing
Falls Church, VA
Travel Cath Lab Tech job in Falls Church, VA

$49,720 Estimated

Soliant
Washington, DC
Cath Lab Tech Washington DC Travel Position

$49,720 Estimated

Precision Medicine Group
Frederick, MD
Laboratory Technician I - Fresh Biological Samples

$32,240 Estimated

Chenega
Silver Spring, MD
Lab Technician I

$32,240 Estimated

Washington Hospital Center
Washington, DC
Non-Invasive Peripheral Vascular Laboratory Technician III

$49,720 Estimated

Luxottica Group S.P.A.
McLean, VA
LensCrafters - Lab Technician

$49,720 Estimated

Potomac Physician Associates
Kensington, MD
Lab Technician

$32,240 Estimated

Randstad
Rockville, MD
Lab Technician

$32,240 Estimated

Upper Occoquan Service Authority
Centreville, VA
Laboratory Technician / Laboratory Analyst II

$49,720 Estimated

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Real Laboratory Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Tech Lab Ameritas Technologies Corporation Baton Rouge, LA Nov 15, 2013 $88,000
Laboratory Technician Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI Jun 26, 2013 $68,641
Laboratory Technician/Engineer New York Institute of Technology Old Westbury, NY Mar 18, 2013 $66,000
Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians Carl Zeiss Vision Inc. Chester, VA Sep 17, 2014 $65,000 -
$85,000
Lab Technician Technology Holding, LLC Salt Lake City, UT Jun 15, 2016 $63,627
Laboratory Technician Northstar Technology Corporation Silver Spring, MD Oct 15, 2015 $60,008
Photometric Laboratory Technician Xtralight Mfg. Ltd Houston, TX Sep 01, 2015 $60,000
Lab Technician Lancesoft, Inc. Garland, TX Sep 17, 2015 $60,000
Lab Technician Sinclair Services Company Sinclair, WY Aug 20, 2015 $59,417
Laboratory Technician 4 Kelly Services, Inc. Bethesda, MD Mar 01, 2015 $58,853
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Top Skills for A Laboratory Technician

LabEquipmentLabProceduresSafetyWetChemistryPHMeterAnalyticalDataEntryLabTechnicianRawMaterialsDNATestResultsPCRMicrobiologyHplcChromatographyCustomerServiceLabTestsPhlebotomyGc/MsLims

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Top Laboratory Technician Skills

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Lab Procedures
  3. Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Monitored and maintained lab equipment.
  • Work includes practicing accurate measurements while being aware of contamination in addition to practicing safe and responsible lab procedures.
  • Clean and maintain supplies, tools, equipment, and storage areas in order to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
  • Established quality control parameters utilizing wet chemistry bench skills.
  • Experience with operating standard lab equipment (i.e., pH meter, balances and spectrophotometer).

Top Laboratory Technician Employers

What Kind Of Companies Hire a Laboratory Technician

  1. American Red Cross
  2. Archer Daniels Midland
  3. Intertek
  4. Labcorp
  5. Quest Diagnostics
  6. Laboratory Corporation of America
  7. American Family Care
  8. Qualtex Laboratories
  9. Polaris Industries
  10. Aerotek
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Laboratory Technician Videos

Medical Laboratory Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

Medical Laboratory Technicians

Career Advice on becoming a Laboratory Technician by Katherine G (Full Version)