dcsimg

How to Become a Medical Technologist

If you've seen an episode of the hospital drama "House," then you may have noticed that a great deal of the detective work involved in diagnosing various conditions takes place outside of the patient's room, in labs equipped with sophisticated equipment designed to analyze everything from blood and cellular structure to fungi and bacteria. In the real world of medicine, much of this behind-the-scenes analysis is carried out by the highly trained scientists in lab coats known as medical technologists. These are the clinical analysts who carry out tests crucial in determining the biological causes of disease -- the laboratory scientists of the health care industry. Indeed, medical technologists are also commonly referred to as medical laboratory scientists, and medical technologist degrees often fall under the heading of clinical laboratory science.

Medical technologist program requirements and prerequisites

Early on, becoming a medical technologist is not all that different from the route taken by anyone interested in pursuing a career in medicine. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) recommends a strong grounding in biology, chemistry and mathematics, which can begin to take shape as early as high school. While those interested strictly in a medical or nursing degree will eventually move on to professional programs, medical technologists can begin planning out a career path while enrolled in a four-year bachelor's degree program. Again, this starts with solid foundation of math and science courses, including statistics and microbiology. But, unlike medical technicians, who can begin work after attaining a one- to two-year associate's degree, medical technologists are tasked with greater responsibilities that call for a higher level of training.

As the BLS notes, a Bachelor of Science is the basic requirement for embarking on a career as a medical technologists. Many four-year colleges and universities offer programs of study specifically tailored to the needs of medical technologists, whether it be a B.S. in medical technology or in medical laboratory science. However, successful completion of an undergraduate degree in biology, the life sciences, or allied health technologies is also considered adequate preparation for a career as a medical technologist.

Medical technologists skills and qualifications

By definition, medical technologists require a deep knowledge and familiarity with the instruments of a medical laboratory. ONet Online points out that critical thinking and complex problem solving skills are also an important part of what goes into being a successful medical technologist, as is the ability to carefully apply scientific methodology. Medical technologists may not deal as directly with patients as doctors and nurses, but the work a technologist performs in the lab is a key component of a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Most bachelor degree programs include at least one year of clinical experience in a hospital setting, and many hospitals offer such training to qualified applicants. Medical technologist certification, which is required by many states, requires at least one full year working full-time in a clinical setting.

The American Society of Clinical Pathologists Board of Certification lists, as a prerequisite, two years of clinical lab experience in blood banking, chemistry, hematology, microbiology, immunology and urinalysis/body fluids. It is also expected that applicants will have completed a range of coursework in biological sciences, chemistry and mathematics. Other subjects typically covered as part of a degree program include:

  • Phlebotomy
  • Bacteriology
  • Hematology
  • Mycology
  • Immunodiagnostics

In addition, medical technologists need to be familiar with software applications for laboratory information systems and electronic medical records.

Working environment for medical technologists

The day-to-day work of a technologist can include collecting and preparing blood and tissues samples, microscopic and chemical analysis of specimens, checking lab reports, calibrating equipment and delivering test results to physicians and patients. In larger hospitals and testing facilities, medical technologists and technicians work in specialized groups: there are blood bank technologists, immunology technologists, microbiology technologists, and molecular biology technologists and cytotechnologists.

Medical innovations and technological advances have kept the demand for medical technologists high, as has an aging population base in need of medical care. The BLS expects employment for medical technologists to grow at a slightly above average rate of 14 percent from 2012 through 2022. The latest BLS report, from May of 2013, pegs the national average annual income for those currently in the field at $59,460. While general medical and surgical hospitals employed the largest number of medical technologists (94,150 out of a total 162,630), techs can also find work in independent and hospital-affiliated diagnostic laboratories, as well as private medical practices and clinics.

Sources

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist and Technician, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292011.htm

Summary Report for: Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist, ONet Online, 2013, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2011.00#Education

Technologist/Scientist Certification, American Society of Clinical Pathologists Board of Certification, 2014, http://www.ascp.org/Board-of-Certification/GetCertified#tabs-1

Medical Technologist Certification/Education, American Medical Technologists, 2014, http://www.americanmedtech.org/GetCertified/MTEligibility.aspx#141980-route-1-education

Medical Technologist Schools

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media
            • Students who qualify may earn credits from relevant work, military service training, or life experience through Credit by Examination Program (CLEP)
            • Offers 5 term start dates throughout the year
            • Class sizes are small, with an average 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council or Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS)
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1900, with over 40 diverse online degree programs.
            • Offers a comprehensive student services team (SUPPORT+) composed of financial aid advisors, academic tutors, career service advisors, and more.
            • Operates as a Public Benefit Corporation school, that puts students first and maintains a commitment to the communities they serve.
            • Features a DreamReal program, that provides students with career guidance from enrollment to graduation, helps them to make connections in their community, and more.
            Show more [+]
            1 Program(s) Found
            Vista College , El Paso
            • Designated a Military Friendly School by Victoria Media in 2015.
            • Offers various scholarship opportunities to military students who qualify.
            • Provides programs in Allied Healthcare, Information Technology, Cosmetology, HVAC, Business, Massage Therapy and Veterinary Technology.
            •  Institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE), with online accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 6 campuses across Texas, with a campus in Las Cruces, New Mexico and online.
            Show more [+]
            4 Program(s) Found
            Keiser University Campus , Fort Lauderdale
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Committed to excellence in education since 1897 with a rich history of helping students find successful careers.
            • Offers a wide array of over 35 degree programs including business, medical, technology, and more.
            • Developed a Graduate Placement Strategy (GPS) that helps students prepare for careers with externships, help building a career portfolio, resume writing, and more.
            • Its fully-accredited campuses offer day, evening, and online classes.
            • Gives graduates access to career tools and networking resources for life.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits