Medical Technologist Education and Training

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Summary

Clinical laboratory personnel examine and test body fluids and cells.

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.

About half of all medical laboratory technologists and technicians were employed in hospitals in 2012. Others worked in doctors’ offices or diagnostic laboratories.

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.

The median annual wage for medical laboratory technologists was $57, 580 in May 2012. The median annual wage for medical laboratory technicians was , 240 in May 2012.

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and techniciansEmployment of medical laboratory technologists and technicians is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. An increase in the aging population will lead to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, through laboratory procedures.

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians with similar occupations.

Learn more about medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

Protective masks, gloves, and goggles often are necessary to ensure the safety of laboratory personnel.

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. Medical laboratory technologists perform complex medical laboratory tests; medical laboratory technicians perform routine medical laboratory tests.

Duties

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and techniciansMedical 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 manual tests that are based on detailed instructions, 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.

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