Medical laboratory technicians are trained to collect and analyze biological material in order to help physicians identify medical concerns that a patient may be experiencing. Opportunities in the field vary according to the specific field of medicine in which the technician would like to work.
Career Opportunities for Medical Laboratory Technicians
The career opportunities that are available for medical laboratory technicians involve different types of specimens that are to be collected and analyzed by the technicians.
• Blood bank technicians work in a blood bank to collect and analyze blood samples. Some professionals who are qualified to do so could also prepare blood for transfusions.
• Phlebotomists are trained to collect blood from patients for medical tests or blood donation purposes.
• Cytotechnologists have specialized training in examining and analyzing skin cells in order to determine whether there is an indication of cancerous growth.
These are just a few of the specializations that medical laboratory technicians can choose.
Medical laboratory technicians can work in a diagnostic laboratory or directly in a physician’s office. The job primarily involves either collecting or analyzing samples of blood, urine, skin cells or tissue.
Technicians who collect samples often spend the majority of their work day on their feet, and physical labor may be required if a patient has limited mobility.
Hazardous work conditions can occur when specimens contain infectious diseases. However, laboratories have protocols for keeping specimens contained and away from patients and technicians, so the risk associated with working with hazardous materials is kept minimal.
Work hours vary for medical laboratory technicians. Technicians who work in a laboratory that collects samples are typically only required to work during the morning and early afternoon, but technicians who analyze samples could be expected to work late into the night.
Projected Job Growth
Job growth in the field is expected to be average. The projected increase in jobs between 2010 and 2020 is 15 percent.
The annual salary for medical laboratory technicians ranges from $39,000 to $77,000. Technicians employed by the federal government make the most, and those working for a laboratory that specializes in diagnostic testing are on the high end of the salary range.
Medical laboratory technicians have the option to attend a traditional college and receive an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in the field, but a certificate from a medical institution may also suffice. Hospitals, technical schools and the military all grant certifications for professionals who would like to work as medical laboratory technicians.
Many states will only allow a person to perform tasks in a medical laboratory after the individual has obtained a license or registration. Because licensure and registration requirements vary according state, a professional will need to research the regulations in a particular state to ensure compliance with these rules.
Technicians who would like to specialize in a very specific area may be required to obtain a higher degree in order to gain the expertise necessary to properly identify the presence of certain abnormalities or indications of a disease.