How To Become A Medical Laboratory Technician
Career Video: Medical Laboratory Technician
If you are interested in a career that enables you to perform routine medical laboratory tests, you can consider becoming a medical laboratory technician. In this profession, you will be working under the supervision of a medical laboratory technologist to conduct the laboratory exams ordered by doctors and other healthcare personnel. This can include doing analysis for blood, urine and tissue samples of patients. You get to use various laboratory equipment and computerized instruments to perform these tests.
To succeed as a medical laboratory technician, you will need to be comfortable around complex pieces of modern technology since these are the day-to-day tools of your trade. You also need to have manual dexterity as you will be using your hands to collect samples and do the tests. You must also know how to listen and pay attention to detail as doctors may have specific instructions on how tests must be carried out.
Why Become A Medical Laboratory Technician
One reason to become a medical laboratory technician is the sense of gratification that can be felt knowing that one’s job is integral to coming up with the correct diagnosis of a patient’s illness. Doctors will never be able to confirm why a patient is experiencing certain symptoms unless a medical laboratory technician undertakes the necessary tests. For those who are comfortable with needles, blood and bodily fluids, another reason to undertake this career path is the fact that it is a rapidly growing occupation that promises many job opportunities in the coming years.
Medical Laboratory Technician Work Environment
Fifty percent of medical laboratory technicians and technologists are employed with hospitals, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The others work in medical and diagnostic laboratories, doctor’s offices and educational institutions. Their work schedule is usually fulltime but those who work in hospitals and laboratories that carry out 24-hour operations may work on shifting schedules which include evenings, weekends and even holidays. There is always the risk of getting contaminated with infectious specimens but this can be minimized or eliminated by following safety precautions like wearing masks, gloves and other protective equipment.
Medical Laboratory Technician Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of medical laboratory technicians is $40,240. This is a little bit lower than the $59,460 received by medical laboratory technologists.
Medical Laboratory Technician Career Outlook
The job outlook of medical laboratory technicians is quite rosy. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the employment rate of this profession is projected to grow 30 percent in the decade covering 2012 to 2022. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and is even higher than the forecasted outlook for medical laboratory technologists which is 14 percent, a rate that is as fast as the national average for all job types. The demand will come from a burgeoning aging population who are living longer and will need to have various laboratory tests performed. More people will also have access to health insurance due to recent federal legislation changes, leading many to undertake these tests and fuel demand for these professionals.
Medical Laboratory Technician Degree
To get a foothold into this profession, aspiring medical laboratory technicians typically need to take an associate’s degree program in clinical laboratory science. There are certificate programs for medical laboratory technicians offered by vocational schools and even the Armed Forces. Those who already hold a degree in a healthcare or related field can look for hospitals that offer one-year certificate programs as well. Medical laboratory technicians may also opt to get certified in specialties like medical biology to make their credentials more appealing to employers.