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Become A Specimen Technician

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Working As A Specimen Technician

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

  • Repetitive

  • $38,970

    Average Salary

What Does A Specimen 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 Specimen 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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Specimen Technician jobs

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Specimen Technician Demographics

Gender

Female

68.7%

Male

29.8%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

73.5%

Hispanic or Latino

15.8%

Asian

8.4%

Unknown

1.5%

Black or African American

0.8%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

47.8%

French

13.0%

Tagalog

8.7%

Arabic

8.7%

Ukrainian

4.3%

Turkish

4.3%

Russian

4.3%

Hmong

4.3%

Polish

4.3%
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Specimen Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

16.5%

Northern Virginia Community College

7.1%

University of New Mexico

7.1%

Central New Mexico Community College

4.7%

Texas Southern University

4.7%

Liberty University

4.7%

University of Central Oklahoma

4.7%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.7%

Monroe Community College

4.7%

Montgomery County Community College

4.7%

Saddleback College

4.7%

University of Maryland - University College

3.5%

California State University - Fullerton

3.5%

Bergen Community College

3.5%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.5%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

3.5%

Colorado Technical University

3.5%

University of Cincinnati

3.5%

Miami Dade College

3.5%

University of Oklahoma

3.5%
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Majors

Biology

15.5%

Medical Assisting Services

13.8%

Business

11.0%

Health Care Administration

8.3%

Nursing

6.9%

Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science

5.2%

General Studies

4.1%

Management

3.8%

Computer Information Systems

3.8%

Chemistry

3.4%

Medical Technician

3.4%

Accounting

3.1%

Liberal Arts

2.8%

Criminal Justice

2.8%

Information Technology

2.8%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

2.1%

Psychology

2.1%

Computer Networking

1.7%

English

1.7%

Biotechnology

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

32.5%

Other

31.3%

Associate

16.5%

Masters

7.6%

Certificate

7.2%

Diploma

3.6%

License

1.4%
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Top Skills for A Specimen Technician

SpecimenTypesLaboratoryAnalysisDataEntryBarcodeLabelsDepartmentProceduresPatientInformationComputerSystemUrineSpecimensProcessSpecimensSortTestCodesTIQCustomerServiceTestResultsPatientDemographicsStatInformationETCCompliancePoliciesIdentifiesProblemsProcessingDepartment

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Top Specimen Technician Skills

  1. Specimen Types
  2. Laboratory Analysis
  3. Data Entry
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Identified problems with specimen types such as locating missing information and verifying information.
  • Prepare incoming specimens for laboratory analysis by unpacking and labeling the specimens to the appropriate tests needed.
  • Arrange slides for distribution to pathologists, data entry, and problem solving.
  • Affixed barcode labels to original specimen containers and/or pour off containers.
  • Perform data entry for physician requisitions and update patient information.

Top Specimen Technician Employers

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Specimen Technician Videos

Medical Laboratory Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

The laboratory Specimens Processing

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians Job Description

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