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Become A Medical Laboratory Technician

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Working As A Medical Laboratory Technician

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

  • Repetitive

  • $46,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical 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 Medical 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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Medical Laboratory Technician Career Paths

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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Generalist 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Medical Laboratory Technician
Phlebotomist 11.9%
Generalist 5.2%
Cashier 3.9%
Internship 3.6%
Technician 2.7%
Top Careers After Medical Laboratory Technician
Generalist 5.2%
Technician 2.4%
Supervisor 2.3%
Instructor 2.0%

Do you work as a Medical Laboratory Technician?

Medical Laboratory Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

69.0%

Male

28.9%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

59.9%

Hispanic or Latino

13.8%

Black or African American

12.1%

Asian

9.7%

Unknown

4.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

44.8%

French

12.3%

Arabic

7.4%

Russian

4.4%

German

3.9%

Hindi

3.4%

Urdu

3.0%

Korean

2.5%

Portuguese

2.5%

Gujarati

2.0%

Italian

2.0%

Filipino

1.5%

Tagalog

1.5%

Japanese

1.5%

Amharic

1.5%

Dakota

1.5%

Polish

1.5%

Swahili

1.0%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Dutch

1.0%
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Medical Laboratory Technician Education

Schools

George Washington University

28.0%

University of Cincinnati

10.9%

University of Phoenix

6.9%

Community College of the Air Force

6.1%

Weber State University

4.3%

Walden University

3.9%

Thomas Edison State University

3.8%

Navarro College

3.8%

Old Dominion University

3.4%

Ashford University

2.9%

Tarleton State University

2.9%

Eastern Kentucky University

2.9%

Kaplan University

2.7%

Winston-Salem State University

2.6%

Southwest Tennessee Community College

2.6%

Hinds Community College

2.5%

University of Maryland - University College

2.5%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

2.5%

Mississippi Delta Community College

2.5%

Trident University International

2.5%
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Majors

Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science

50.6%

Medical Technician

8.3%

Biology

6.9%

Business

5.9%

Nursing

4.9%

Health Sciences And Services

3.6%

Health Care Administration

3.0%

Microbiology

2.2%

Management

2.0%

Chemistry

1.9%

Public Health

1.7%

Medical Assisting Services

1.3%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

1.2%

Education

1.2%

Psychology

1.1%

Clinical Psychology

1.0%

General Studies

0.8%

Pharmacy

0.8%

Physiology And Anatomy

0.8%

Computer Information Systems

0.7%
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Degrees

Associate

34.1%

Bachelors

29.3%

Other

16.4%

Masters

12.5%

Certificate

4.4%

Doctorate

1.8%

Diploma

1.2%

License

0.3%
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Real Medical Laboratory Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Medical Technologist-Laboratory Manager Wrangell Medical Center Wrangell, AK Nov 28, 2013 $83,271
Medical Laboratory Technologist Northwell Health Manhasset, NY Aug 22, 2016 $82,896
Supervisory Medical Lab Technologist Total Toxicology Labs LLC Southfield, MI Aug 23, 2015 $65,000
Medical Laboratory Technologist Ransom Memorial Hospital Ottawa, KS Apr 27, 2016 $64,697
Medical Laboratory Technologist Ransom Memorial Hospital Ottawa, KS Jul 21, 2016 $64,697
Medical Laboratory Technologist Ransom Memorial Hospital Ottawa, KS Feb 11, 2015 $64,697
Medical Laboratory Technologist Ransom Memorial Hospital Ottawa, KS Nov 02, 2015 $64,697
Medical Laboratory Technologist Ransom Memorial Hospital Ottawa, KS Jan 10, 2016 $64,697
Medical Laboratory Technician Lake Health District Lakeview, OR Aug 01, 2014 $63,800 -
$65,636
Medical Laboratory Technologist Adventist Health System/Sunbelt Inc. D/B/A Florida Orlando, FL Oct 17, 2016 $55,800
Medical Laboratory Technologist Lincoln County Memorial Hospital Troy, MO Sep 01, 2013 $55,201
Medical Laboratory Technologist Florida Health Sciences Center, Inc. Tampa, FL Jan 09, 2016 $55,180
Medical Laboratory Technologist Adventist Health System/Sunbelt Inc. Orlando, FL Oct 30, 2014 $55,034
Medical Laboratory Technologist Public Hospital District #1 of Pend Oreille County Newport, WA Dec 25, 2016 $55,034
Medical Technologist, Core Lab Univ Hosp Cleveland Medical Center Cleveland, OH Feb 25, 2016 $54,496
Medical Laboratory Technologist Ra Pain Services, P.A. Mount Laurel, NJ Sep 20, 2014 $54,429
Medical Laboratory Technologist Ransom Memorial Hospital Ottawa, KS Feb 11, 2015 $54,387 -
$64,697
Medical Laboratory Technologist II University of Rochester Rochester, NY Jan 07, 2015 $49,504
Medical Laboratory Technologist II University of Rochester Rochester, NY Jan 07, 2016 $49,504
Medical Laboratory Technologist II University of Rochester Rochester, NY Jul 01, 2015 $49,504
Medical Laboratory Technologist Northern Cochise Community Hospital, Inc. Willcox, AZ Dec 03, 2015 $49,358 -
$52,000
Medical Laboratory Technologist Hematology & Oncology Associates of Rhode Island Cranston, RI Sep 10, 2014 $49,316
Medical Lab Technologist East Texas Medical Center Clarksville, TX Sep 27, 2013 $49,211
Medical Laboratory Technologist Scott County Hospital Scott City, KS Mar 01, 2014 $49,045

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Medical Laboratory Technician

Average Yearly Salary
$46,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$30,000
Min 10%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
Portland, ME
Highest Paying State
New Hampshire
Avg Experience Level
5.4 years
How much does a Medical Laboratory Technician make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Medical Laboratory Technician in the United States is $46,757 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $30,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $71,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Medical Laboratory Technician?

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Top Skills for A Medical Laboratory Technician

  1. Hematology
  2. Medical Laboratory
  3. Laboratory Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided training and guidance to other personnel within the laboratory on the procedures and responsibilities within the Hematology department.
  • Developed medical laboratory automated data processing.
  • Evaluated laboratory procedures for suitability and examines specimens for proper collection, adequate quantity and correct patient identification.
  • Processed all incoming cultures, performed identification procedures and sensitivity testing on isolates from blood and neonatal cultures in Microbiology lab.
  • Studied a broad array of laboratory specimens and quantitative and qualitative chemical analyses, utilizing equipment including Hitachi 747/717 chemistry analyzers.

What is it like to work as a Medical Laboratory Technician

4.0

Saving lives

May 11, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Medical Laboratory Technician.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Medical Laboratory Technician?

It gives me joy to diagnose and save lives. I am always satisfied and contempt that I am achieving my life goals... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Nothing really except the hazard involved... Show More

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Top 10 Best States for Medical Laboratory Technicians

  1. Alaska
  2. Rhode Island
  3. New Hampshire
  4. New York
  5. Florida
  6. Montana
  7. Connecticut
  8. Nevada
  9. New Jersey
  10. Kansas
  • (60 jobs)
  • (52 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)
  • (958 jobs)
  • (740 jobs)
  • (79 jobs)
  • (139 jobs)
  • (81 jobs)
  • (353 jobs)
  • (132 jobs)

Top Medical Laboratory Technician Employers

Jobs From Top Medical Laboratory Technician Employers

Medical Laboratory Technician Videos

Medical Laboratory Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

Becoming a Medical Laboratory Technician

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

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