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What is a Medical Laboratory Technician?
A medical lab tech is a medical professional who collects samples then analyzes and tests theses samples to better understand their chemical composition. Examples of samples can include: tissue, blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, pericardial fluid, synovial fluid, peritoneal fluid, and other specimens.
Clinical and medical laboratory technicians perform a wide array of diagnostic analysis including but not limited to: hematological, immunological, chemical, histopathological, cytopathological, bacteriological, and microscopic. A medical laboratory tech is a healthcare professional that can work in hospitals, reference labs, clinical laboratories, non-clinical industrial labs, and biotechnology labs.
Top Medical Lab Technician Degrees
For students looking to learn more about clinical lab technology and medical lab technology, it is critical to research the best degree program for you. Take the time to review the summaries below to ascertain the degree that fits you best.
Simply reach out to accredited colleges that fit your personal priorities and career objectives. We have centralized everything you need into a singular resource to make it easy to find the perfect degree program.
Medical Lab Technician Certificate Programs
Certificate programs in medical lab technology are a viable option for students to consider. Certificates are an alternative to a degree program that are shorter than degrees and hyper-focused in a particular area of study.
Students will learn the fundamentals of lab technology while preparing for an entry-level position in the field. Alternatively, a certificate can be a pathway to a degree program. Employers in your area may prefer a degree over a certificate so adjust your academic priorities accordingly to make the most of your time invested in school.
Medical Lab Technician Associate's Degrees
Online associate degrees in medical lab technology are 2-year programs for full-time students. Degrees are conferred as Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS). Associate degrees meld liberal arts education with core classes to provide students with a well-rounded educational experience. Liberal arts courses you will find in a course catalog include communications, philosophy, history, creative writing, math, and psychology.
Core classes in the AS program will vary slightly from school to school. However, the core of the program will include classes and hands-on training in similar areas of emphasis. Classes you can expect to take include:
- Quality Assurance
- Specimen Collection
- Clinical Chemistry
- Quality Control
- Information Recording
- Abnormal Lab Values
- Lab Safety
- Specimen Processing
Medical Lab Technician Bachelor's Degrees
A bachelor’s degree in medical lab technology can be found in a school’s course catalog as a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Medical Lab Technology or Clinical Lab Technology. Bachelor degrees are 4-year programs that blend general education with core curriculum to provide holistic thinking and integrative analysis skills.
Core classes you will typically find in a bachelor’s degree track include: organic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, clinical chemistry, clinical microbiology, biostatistics, virology, immunology, clinical hematology, molecular diagnostics, and hemostasis. The culmination of the program will include a capstone course and supervised clinical rotations to help bring academic theories to life.
Medical Lab Technician Requirements
In terms of educational requirements, a clinical lab technician and medical lab tech will take a number of similar courses. While exact curricular requirements are established by each school, a common set of courses emerge. A large sample of programs reveal the most common classes you can expect in this degree program include the following:
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Biomedical Science
Employment for Medical Lab Techs
Degrees and certificates in medical and clinical lab tech will have specialized skills employer seek. Students seeking to branch out from this specialized degree may need to pursue additional training and/or certification. Similar job occupations worth investigating can include and MRI technologist, epidemiologist, diagnostic medical sonographer, veterinary tech, nuclear medicine technologist, nursing assistant, chemical technician, registered nurse, and vascular technologist.
Lab Tech Jobs and Career Outlook
The job growth for medical laboratory tech are projected to be 13% in the coming decade. In an industry employing over 335,000 professionals, this job increase represents over 42,000 new jobs. Similarly, employment for a radiation therapist and MRI technician are projected to increase by 14% and 13% respectively.
Annual median income for a lab tech is currently $51,770 or $24.89 an hour. The latest survey by the BLS also reveals the top 10% earn nearly $80,000 a year with the lowest quartile earning around thirty-thousand dollars a year. Income will be a function of your work experience, employer, education, employment arrangement, and geographic location.
Resources for Lab Techs
Related fields include teaching, research, genomics, immunology, radiobiology, neuroanatomy, pharmacology, nursing, medical science, and microbiology. The ASCLS, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, is an association in the field to help lab techs from coast to coast learn, grow, and connect with other professionals.