How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Technician

Clinical Laboratory Technicians work in the health care industry performing tests on bodily fluids and cells in order to help physicians detect and diagnose diseases.

Their work is important because with the diagnostic results they help find, doctors can begin treating an ailing patient.

Clinical Laboratory Technicians use a variety of skills in order to test samples and analyze diagnostic results in a laboratory.

A person who wants to become a Clinical Laboratory Technician can rely on their strong attention to detail and organizational skills in order to do a great job in this field.

These professionals work with a variety of patient samples that can contain infectious disease.

Being cautious with bio-hazard material is an integral part of this job therefore workers must use protective gear such as gloves, masks and goggles in order to protect their health.

Over 50% of Clinical Laboratory Technicians work in a hospital setting and use advanced technology and lab equipment in order to perform their job.

Clinical Lab Technicians may also work in a physician’s office, clinic or a lab that specializes in diagnostics.

Education Requirements to Become a Clinical Laboratory Technician

In order to become a Clinical Laboratory Technician, a candidate must acquire certification or an Associate’s Degree from an accredited program.

Candidates can seek certification from a vocational or technical school, from any of the military branches or from a hospital program.

Candidates who want to become a Clinical Laboratory Technician need to take their certification exam from an accredited organization.

Organizations and departments that offer exams and certifications are listed below:

  • American Medical Technologist
  • Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical
  • Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts
  • National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel

Very few candidates who want to become a Clinical Laboratory Technician learn their skills with on the job training.

Seeking an Associate’s Degree or Certification is the best way to find a job as a Clinical Laboratory Technician.

Clinical Laboratory Technician Job Description

Clinical Laboratory Technicians use a variety of skills in order to officially diagnose a patient’s medical condition.

Under the supervision of a Clinical Laboratory Technologist or other supervisors, they work with a variety of bodily fluids and human cell samples in a lab setting performing tests and analyzing the results.

Listed below are some common daily tasks Clinical Laboratory Technicians perform.

  • Collect and prepare samples of bodily fluids such as blood and urine for testing
  • Prepare and sterilize lab equipment for accurate testing and analyzing
  • Label samples for patient identification purposes
  • Run simple tests and analyze results under supervision
  • Look for microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses under microscope
  • Search for hormonal or chemical content in the samples.For example, find the hormonal content in a urine sample to determine pregnancy or any chemical content in a urine sample to determine drug use
  • Determine what types of tests to run on samples; verify whether samples need manual or mechanical analyzing
  • Compare patient’s subsequent samples to determine whether they are responding to treatment

Clinical Laboratory Technician Salary and Career Path

Clinical Laboratory Technicians will advance in the field if they continue their education and focus on a medical related degree.

They can advance to a Clinical Laboratory Technologist position by acquiring a Bachelor’s Degree with a focus in the sciences.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for these specialized technicians is approximately $35,380 per year.

The national salary range for Clinical Laboratory Technicians begins at around $23,500 and can go up to $53,500 per year.

Salary also depends on the location and medical setting where a Clinical Laboratory Technician works.

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paid technicians work at Surgical or General Medical Hospitals while the lowest paid technicians work at Physician offices or at Diagnostic Labs.

The job outlook for any position in the medical field looks promising.

Clinical Laboratory Technicians can easily seek promotion by continuing their education and moving into a Technologist role.

Growth is another factor for a promising career in this field.

Positions for clinical laboratory workers are expected to grow throughout the next decade by at least 14%.

Seeking work as a Clinical Laboratory Technician can guarantee candidates steady employment as well as advancement opportunities in this field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a clinical laboratory technician?

Clinical laboratory technicians typically work in labs and are specialized in collecting samples and performing tests to analyze blood, urine and other substances and bodily fluids.

They also analyze blood samples that are used in transfusions to determine compatibility.

Clinical laboratory technicians usually work with microscopes, cell counters, and other lab equipment.

They also have to record the results into the patient’s medical record and usually discuss with physicians the results of laboratory tests.

Technicians who work in small laboratories usually perform most of the tests that can be done in that lab while those who are employed by larger medical labs usually specialize in one particular field, such as clinical chemistry, immunology, microbiology or molecular biology.

Clinical laboratory technicians must follow very strict safety and sanitation procedures to avoid contamination.

If you’re a detail-oriented person with technical skills, dexterity and physical stamina, a career as a clinical laboratory technician may be the right path for you.

How much does a clinical laboratory technician make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for laboratory technologists and technicians was $52,330 in May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors, including the technician’s level of experience and the employer.

Clinical laboratory technicians can make anywhere between less than $30,000 and more than $80,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become a clinical laboratory technician?

Clinical laboratory technicians typically need at least an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate in clinical laboratory science.

Costs for medical laboratory science programs are, on average, less than $20,000 a year.

These programs teach students both the theoretical and practical aspects of laboratory science and prepare them for entry-level employment in the field.

Some states also require laboratory scientists to be licensed; exact licensing requirements vary by state.

Medical lab technicians can also choose to become certified as medical laboratory technologists or in a subspecialty of this field.

What is the demand for clinical laboratory technicians?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is expected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.

As the population ages, laboratory tests will be increasingly used to diagnose cancer, diabetes and other medical conditions and more laboratory technicians will be needed to perform these tests.

Physicians often order blood and tissue tests to diagnose a variety of diseases and to find the best course of treatment.

How long does it take to become a clinical laboratory technician?

Clinical laboratory technicians typically need an associate’s degree or a certificate in clinical laboratory science.

Associate’s degree programs in this field can typically be completed in around 2 years.

In order to have better employment prospects, you can choose to become certified by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, American Medical Technologists or the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

To become certified, you will need to graduate from an accredited program and to pass an exam.

After gaining a few years of work experience, you can choose to specialize in a sub-field, such as immunology, microbiology or clinical chemistry.

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