Medical Laboratory Technician Salaries
What is the average salary of a medical laboratory technician?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for medical laboratory technicians working in the U.S. was $40,750 as of May 2014. However, pay can vary greatly, with those in the lowest 10 percent earning $25,550 or less and those in the upper 10 percent earning $59,750 or more. Pay can vary because of time on the job, educational background, experience, certification and job location. In fact, the BLS shows that the states with the highest paid medical and clinical laboratory technicians were Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut and Alaska.
What skills are necessary to become a medical laboratory technician?
To succeed in this field, it is important to have solid accounting, word processing and spreadsheet software skills. Medical technicians use accounting software to perform lab billing duties and medical software to document records. Effective communication and customer service skills are important in working with both patients and other lab personnel. Paying close attention to detail and being able to multitask are also essential skills for this line of work.
Steps to become a medical laboratory technician
The following steps outline the most direct route to enter this field and earn the necessary, marketable credentials.
- Take chemistry and biology courses in high school.
- Upon graduating from high school, enroll in a medical technician degree program. Most programs are associate's level and typically take two years to complete.
- Sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathologists national certification exam to earn an MLT credential.
- Look for a job in the field.
- Maintain the necessary continuing education units to renew certification every three years.
Is this profession in high demand?
The BLS shows that jobs for medical and clinical laboratory technicians are expected to grow by 30 percent from 2012 to 2022. This job growth is considered to be much faster than average and could result in 47,900 new positions becoming available. Factors contributing to demand include more people with access to health insurance under federal law and an aging baby boomer population who will need health care services, particularly for diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer and diabetes. As a result, more medical laboratory technicians will be needed to operate and maintain equipment used for such diagnoses.
Is there room for advancement?
Medical laboratory technicians may be able to improve their opportunities for advancement by earning a medical lab technician (MLT) certification. This may be preferred by some employers and may even be required for licensing in some states, according to the BLS. In addition to passing a qualifying exam, graduation from an accredited program is often necessary to seek certification. The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) both offer certification. The BLS reports that certification, education or experience could allow medical lab technicians to advance into niche areas of lab science, such as clinical chemistry, histotechnology and immunology.
- Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm
- Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292012.htm