Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians Overview
Excellent job opportunities are projected for medical and clinical laboratory technicians. Usually these workers have an associate degree or a certificate from a clinical/medical lab technician program. Employment will grow rapidly in a variety of settings, but most medical and clinical laboratory technicians will work in hospitals.
Nature of the Work for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
Medical and clinical laboratory technicians perform most of the clinical laboratory tests that help to detect, diagnose and treat diseases.
They are responsible for examining and analyzing cells and body fluids. Medical and clinical laboratory technicians must look for microorganisms such as bacteria or parasites, test for drug levels in blood, match blood for transfusions and analyze the chemical content of fluids.
Because the use of computer technology and automation has taken over the field, medical and clinical laboratory technicians now are less hands-on and more analytical. Education and experience typically determines how complex the tests performed and the amount of responsibility medical and clinical laboratory technicians are given.
Compared to related career medical and clinical laboratory technologists, medical and clinical laboratory technicians do fewer laboratory procedures and complex tests. They often perform manual tests following detailed instructions, prepare specimens or operate automated analyzers. Typically medical and clinical laboratory technicians work under the supervision of lab managers or medical and clinical laboratory technologists. They also may work in a many areas of the clinical laboratory or choose to specialize in one area.
Proper methods of sterilization and infection control must be followed and medical and clinical laboratory technicians are trained to work with infectious specimens. When safety is followed, few hazards exist on the job. Masks, gloves and goggles are often worn for protection.
Working conditions vary by specific job. Many medical and clinical laboratory technicians spend a large portion of the day on their feet and some may be exposed to strong smelling specimens, reagents or solutions in the lab.
Employment setting and size of workplace often determine the hours of medical and clinical laboratory technicians. Large hospitals need staff around the clock and most medical and clinical laboratory technicians work during the day, evening or night shift with some weekend and holiday hours. In small facilities they may work on rotating shifts or they may have to be on call in case of emergency on nights or weekends.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
Some states require licensure or registration of medical and clinical laboratory technicians. Requirements vary from state to state, so it’s best to check with local departments of health or boards of occupational licensing.
Many employers prefer to hire medical and clinical laboratory technicians who are certified by an organization such as the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel or the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts.
Employers also look for medical and clinical laboratory technicians that work under pressure and those that have good analytical skills. They must also pay close attention to detail as small changes in readouts or substances can make a crucial difference in a diagnosis. Normal color vision and manual dexterity are also incredibly desirable. Because more work is automated, computer skills are also a major plus.
To advance, medical and clinical laboratory technicians can gain experience and take on additional education to become technologists. Then they can take on supervisory lab positions or become chief laboratory manager in a hospital.
To speed up advancement, medical and clinical laboratory technicians may want to attain a professional certification or even a graduate degree in medical technology, management, chemistry or one of the biological sciences.
Top 10 Most Popular Clinical/Medical Laboratory Technician Schools
1. George Washington University, Washington DC (Washington, District of Columbia)
2. Thomas Nelson Community College (Hampton, Virginia)
3. Community College of the Air Force (Montgomery, Alabama)
4. Newbridge College, Long Beach (Long Beach, California)
5. Somerset Community College, Somerset (Somerset, Kentucky)
6. Purdue University Global (Multiple Campus Locations)
7. Lincoln College of Technology, Cincinnati/Springdale (Tri-County) (Cincinnati, Ohio)
8. Anne Arundel Community College (Arnold, Maryland)
9. Weber State University, Ogden (Ogden, Utah)
10. Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Cumberland (Cumberland, Kentucky)
Online School: Grand Canyon University
Employment and Job Outlook for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
Number of People in Profession
Changing Employment (2008-2018)
Employment is projected to grow faster than average (increase 14 - 19%).
About 328,100 jobs were held by medical and clinical laboratory technicians and technologists combined. Over half of the jobs are held in hospitals, though others are found in medical and diagnostic laboratories and the offices of physicians. A few jobs are found in ambulatory healthcare services and educational services.
Rapid job growth is expected in the field along with excellent job opportunities for medical and clinical laboratory technicians. Employment is projected to grow by 14 percent over the next decade as the number of laboratory tests taken are increasing with population growth and new medical test developments.
Technological advances affect medical and clinical laboratory technicians in two ways. New more powerful tests and advances in genomics can spur employment, but the simplification and automation of routine testing may allow physicians, patients and other nonlaboratory personnel to perform the types of tests previously handled by medical and clinical laboratory technicians.
Job opportunities for medical and clinical laboratory technicians will be excellent as the number of jobs will continue to exceed the number of jobseekers. Beyond the significant job growth, other openings will arise as current workers retire or change careers. For even better job prospects, workers should be willing to relocate.
Earnings and Salary for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
The median annual earnings of medical and clinical laboratory technicians are $36,030. The highest 10 percent earn above $55,210, the lowest 10 percent earn below $23,850 and the middle 50 percent earn between $28,770 and $45,420. Broken down by the industries employing the largest numbers of medical and clinical laboratory technicians, median annual wages are as follows:
Other ambulatory health care services: $31,320 Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $32,630 Offices of physicians: $33,980 Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $36,290 General medical and surgical hospitals: $36,840
Hourly Wage for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
On average, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians earn $17.32 per hour.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook