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Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician

A medical technician, commonly referred to as a clinical laboratory technician, may typically prepare specimens and perform manual tests or tests using automated analyzers. These professionals may be responsible for running routine lab tests used for diagnosis and treatment or prevention of disease. Medical technicians may traditionally work under the direct supervision of medical technologists.

What employment settings can clinical laboratory technicians work at?

Medical technicians may be employed at hospitals, diagnostic and medical laboratories, clinics, and sometimes large

Are there different titles for this profession?

Clinical laboratory technicians are also commonly called medical technicians, medical lab technicians, or MLTs. This profession is not to be confused with Medical Technologists, commonly known as MTs or Clinical Lab Scientists. Medical Technologists may require to pursue a bachelor’s degree to practice, along with passing a national certification exam. Medical Technologists and Technicians may perform many of the same duties.

Medical Lab Assistant is also a different job than medical technicians. Medical Lab Assistants, commonly called clinical lab assistants, may not have to have any type of formal education. There are short, 4-6 month certificate programs these professions may attend but formal training is not required. Also, medical lab assistants may not require to become nationally certified. These professionals are traditionally paid less than medical technicians.

Specific job duties of Medical Technicians may include:

  • Cleaning and setting up lab equipment.
  • Conducting blood and urine chemical analyses through a microscope or automated analyzer. This is typically done to screen for disease or abnormalities.
  • Developing reports of test data through the use of charts and graphs.
  • Analyzing experiment results using electrical devices to ensure the specifications were adhered to.
  • Examining cells for abnormalities.
  • Scanning specimens for microorganisms.
  • Performing blood counts and conducting blood tests to prepare them for transfusion.
  • Discussing cell abnormalities with a pathologist.

What type of medical technician training is required for this field?

Medical technicians are typically required to complete a two-year associate’s degree program. Most programs include a practicum or clinical component. Typically a medical technician program includes courses in: chemistry, biology, anatomy, microbiology, hematology, and coagulation to name a few. Most medical technician programs also include a clinical rotation or practicum component. There are medical lab technician schools through community colleges, technical schools, and even some online programs available.

What type of medical technician certification is needed to practice?

In addition to obtaining a two-year associate’s degree, medical technicians are also required to pass a board exam through the

What types of tools and equipment are used in this occupation?

There are a variety of high tech tools and instruments medical technicians use to perform their job duties.


A few of the commonly used types of equipment are listed below:

  • Phlebotomy trays and accessories
  • Coagulation analyzers
  • Vacuum blood collection tubes
  • Chemistry analyzers
  • Hematology analyzers

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.

  1. Take chemistry and biology courses in high school.
  2. 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.
  3. Sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathologists national certification exam to earn an MLT credential.
  4. Look for a job in the field.
  5. 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.

What type of medical technician training is required for this field?

Medical technicians are typically required to complete a two-year associate’s degree program. Most programs include a practicum or clinical component. Typically a medical technician program includes courses in: chemistry, biology, anatomy, microbiology, hematology, and coagulation to name a few. Most medical technician programs also include a clinical rotation or practicum component. There are medical lab technician schools through community colleges, technical schools, and even some online programs available.

What type of medical technician certification is needed to practice?

In addition to obtaining a two-year associate’s degree, medical technicians are also required to pass a board exam through the

What types of tools and equipment are used in this occupation?

There are a variety of high tech tools and instruments medical technicians use to perform their job duties.




A few of the commonly used types of equipment are listed below:

  • Phlebotomy trays and accessories
  • Coagulation analyzers
  • Vacuum blood collection tubes
  • Chemistry analyzers
  • Hematology analyzers

Becoming a Medical Lab Technician through the GI Bill

Are you looking to become a medical lab technician after, rather than during, your military career? This is another great option, as indeed.com reports that a civilian medical technician salaryis almost as much as military lab technicians: $45,000 per year, on average.

The best and least expensive way to receive an education in this field for former and current Armed Forces personal is to attend med tech colleges through the Montgomery GI Bill. Here’s what you need to know about this fantastic program:

  1. Talk to recruiters before you even begin your time in the military. Talk to as many recruiters from as many branches as you can to find out what kinds of educational benefits that each branch is willing to offer you.
  2. Browse your enlistment contract to be certain that the GI Bill will be at your disposal during and after your service to your country. For a small fee each month during your first enlisted year, the GI Bill will be available to you in the future for you to use to catapult yourself to a career in medical lab technology. While you will probably not need four years worth of classes to obtain your medical lab technician certification or degree, the GI Bill will be available for four years should you need it.

    Here is what you need to know about the GI Bill once it becomes available to you:
  3. Choose a school that offers a medical lab technician program and recognizes the GI Bill. You can confirm this through a school official or the Veterans Administration.
  4. Complete the GI Bill application, which can be located via the Web site for the Veterans Administration, through (888) GIBILL-1, or through a financial aid rep at the school that you chose. Note: You don’t need to pick a school before you fill out a GI Bill application.

The Montgomery GI Bill will compensate you for all of your medical lab technician courses once you are approved for its use.

The job of the medical laboratory technician in the United States military is crucial to the functionality of the overall military medical field. These technicians work closely with medical lab technologists in preparing, handling, and examining bodily specimens to determine a patient’s blood type, discovering the possible presence of cancer, and reviewing blood and tissue samples for any possible diseases.

It is also the function of medical lab technicians in the Armed Forces to gather test results, interpret them, and inform doctors, nurses, and other commanding officers of them.

GI Bill Benefits, Eligibility, and other Financial Perks: Medical Lab Technicians

Following two years of service, or following your retirement from the military, you will be able to pursue your medical technician career through the VA GI Bill. From this point, you will have ten years to use the GI Bil.l

It might also be possible for you to bypass some medical technician training during your service through the DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) program. Read more about the way that DANTES works at http://www.military.com/timesaving-programs/defense-activity-for-non-traditional-education-support-dantes.

Another great thing about serving in the U.S. Armed Forces is that while you are serving your country, the military will pick up the tab for most or all of your education. If medical lab technology is related to your career specialty in the military, you will be compensated for all of your class-related fees while you are an active officer, and you will still be reimbursed for 75 percent of your educational expenses even if this field is not related to your specialty.

Military medical lab technicians need to know how to work with computers, microscopes, and even robots to finish their work. They must also be able to analyze medical findings that have been processed by these highly technological pieces of equipment. On a personal level, medical lab technicians are expected to be able to work well in groups, give and receive orders, and work long and unusual hours in a military setting.

Perhaps the most important thing that aspiring medical lab technicians in the military must remember is that there will be many hands-on experiences with bodily fluids, germs, odors, tissue, and possibly disease. This can be disturbing for some people who are uncomfortable with the sight of blood or other things. If you plan on joining the military as a medical lab technician, please be sure that you are aware of your strengths and limitations.

If you decide to push forward, you will not regret it; indeed.com is reporting that the average medical technician salary in the U.S. military earns $48,000 per year, which is more than 30 percent higher than the average American’s salary, military or civilian.

Becoming a Military Lab Technician in the Military

You will need a good deal of civilian training if you would like to become a medical lab technician in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. However, after only two years of service you can pursue medical technician training through the post 911 GI Bill to use towards your civilian career upon satisfying your military obligations. Here are the necessary steps to take for preparing to be a med tech in the military:

1. Finish a medical technician training program, which will probably be either a two-year associate’s degree program or a one-year certification program. These qualifications vary based upon the state in which you live, but at the minimum, you should complete a certification program to give yourself a reasonable chance at becoming a military medical lab technician. Here are some of the classes that you can expect to take:

  • General Education: May include English composition, psychology, algebra, and interpersonal communication.
  • General Science: May include two semesters of microbiology, two semesters of chemistry, and one semester of anatomy and physiology.
  • Technical Courses: May include classes in urinalysis, clinical instrumentation, clinical experience, phlebotomy, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Medical Science: May include two semesters of hematology, along with one semester in parasitology and one semester in immunology.

2. To become nationally certified, you will need to pass a national certification exam. This is offered by two organizations: the American Medical Technologist (AMT) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). Once you pass the exam, you will receive the title of certified medical laboratory technician.

Sources:

  1. 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
  2. Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292012.htm

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