How to Become a Medical Lab Technician
Medical Lab Technician Careers & Degrees

Medical Lab Technicians have a very important job in a medical lab facility because their work helps with the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

They use their attention to detail and organizational skills to perform lab work that helps Doctors and Pathologists determine a patient’s diagnosis.

They clarify a diagnosis by running a variety of tests on blood and tissues samples and analyze their composition to find aspects of disease.

Using the diagnostic information they find, doctors will be able to establish a course of treatment for the ailing patient.

Also referred to Clinical Laboratory Technicians, they may work under a Pathologist or a Clinical Laboratory Specialist.

Medical Lab Technicians may work in hospitals, a physician’s office or diagnostic labs.

Someone who wants to become a Medical Lab Technician should expect to work under demanding circumstances and provide results under a limited amount of time.

Medical Lab Technicians can follow several specializations under this role and can provide focused work on the following: Blood banking, Microbiology, Immunology, Hematology, Chemistry.

Related roles for Medical Lab Technicians that require more education include:

  • Medical Lab Technologists
  • Pathologist
  • Clinical Laboratory Specialist

Education Requirements to Become a Medical Lab Technician

There are several ways someone can become a Medical Lab Technician.

A candidate should have a high school degree and can begin their path to become a Medical Lab Technician while still attending school.

They should have a strong background in Mathematics and science courses such as Biology.

Once someone has their high school diploma, they need to enroll in a community or junior college to begin their coursework for an Associate’s degree.

A candidate will need to acquire an Associate’s Degree as Medical Laboratory Technician and prepare for the workforce by taking clinical training under the program.

After completing the Associate’s Program, candidates should take a certification exam in order to get licensed to work as a Medical Lab Technician.

Another way a candidate can become a Medical Lab Technician is by taking a certification program from a vocational or technical school.

Future Medical Lab Technicians need to learn the basics on how to use complex lab equipment, the safety precautions used in a medical lab and how to handle important biopsy samples and blood work.

Finally, all candidates need national certification from a distinguished professional organization in order to become a Medical Lab Technician.

They can seek licensure from the following organizations:

American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) visit: www.ascp.org
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) visit: www.naacls.org

Medical Lab Technician Job Description

A Medical Lab Technician’s job is to perform procedures that help diagnose and discover medical illnesses and diseases so that a treatment can be developed for an ailing patient.

The following list includes examples of some responsibilities a Medical Lab Technician may have.

  • Follow lab procedures to promote safety in the lab environment
  • Perform lab testing on bodily fluids and tissues including: blood, urine, and biopsy samples taken from a patient
  • Use medical instruments such as microscopes, chemical analyzers, computer equipment and other complex laboratory equipment
  • Work under time constraints and provide accurate test results
  • Discuss lab results with other medical professionals
  • Take care of lab equipment
  • Keep laboratory work and patient records organized

Medical Lab Technician Salary and Career Path

Salary for Medical Lab Technicians depends on location and whether they work for a private doctor’s office or for a public entity such as a hospital.

The starting wage for a Medical Lab Technician on average begins at approximately $24,000 annually.

The range ends at $38,000 per year for experienced Medical Lab Technicians with an average of about $32,000 for the majority of employees.

Employment outlook for the medical industry is expected to grow at a fast pace throughout the next decade.

Some attribute this growth to an aging baby boomer population as well as technological advances in the medical field.

Wherever the growth comes from, a candidate seeking a career path as a Medical Lab Technician should expect to work in a healthy industry and have a steady job outlook for at least the coming decade.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$54,780
$30K
$39K
$54K
$68K
$81K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$46,400
Alaska$72,690
Arizona$50,750
Arkansas$44,100
California$62,890
Colorado$57,850
Connecticut$67,900
Delaware$62,050
District of Columbia$62,730
Florida$51,960
Georgia$51,450
Hawaii$60,230
Idaho$48,250
Illinois$51,620
Indiana$47,650
Iowa$48,520
Kansas$48,350
Kentucky$52,500
Louisiana$48,230
Maine$54,350
Maryland$56,160
Massachusetts$60,070
Michigan$50,870
Minnesota$56,330
Mississippi$46,270
Missouri$49,460
Montana$56,080
Nebraska$52,440
Nevada$61,740
New Hampshire$62,190
New Jersey$64,540
New Mexico$49,210
New York$65,560
North Carolina$51,590
North Dakota$51,570
Ohio$52,700
Oklahoma$47,580
Oregon$64,880
Pennsylvania$53,540
Rhode Island$68,000
South Carolina$50,020
South Dakota$48,820
Tennessee$52,970
Texas$52,720
Utah$49,720
Vermont$58,760
Virginia$54,950
Washington$59,900
West Virginia$49,430
Wisconsin$52,220
Wyoming$54,050
Guam$39,660
Puerto Rico$31,900
Virgin Islands$48,100

The top earning state in the field is Alaska, where the average salary is $72,690.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Alaska - $72,690
Rhode Island - $68,000
Connecticut - $67,900
New York - $65,560
Oregon - $64,880
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, OCC Code 29-2010, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a medical lab technician?

Medical lab technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze blood, urine and other body fluids and substances.

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

Lab technicians usually work with microscopes, cell counters, and other equipment.

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

Technicians who work in small medical labs typically perform different types of tests while those employed by larger medical labs usually specialize in one particular field, such as clinical chemistry, immunohematology, immunology, microbiology, and molecular biology.

Medical lab technicians must follow very strict safety procedures in order to avoid contamination.

To be able to perform all the tasks listed above, medical lab technicians should be detail-oriented persons with technical skills, dexterity, and physical stamina.

QuestionHow much does a medical lab 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.

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

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a medical lab technician?

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

Medical laboratory science programs cost, on average, less than $20,000 a year and teach students both the theoretical and the practical aspects of laboratory science.

Some states also require medical lab technicians to be licensed.

Medical lab technicians can choose to become certified as medical laboratory technologists or in the specialty they choose to practice.

QuestionWhat is the demand for medical lab 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, the need to diagnose cancer, diabetes and other medical conditions will grow.

The above conditions typically can be diagnosed through laboratory tests performed by medical lab technicians.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a medical lab technician?

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

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

To become certified as a medical lab technician by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, American Medical Technologists or the American Society for Clinical Pathology you will need to graduate from an accredited post-secondary program and you must pass an exam.

As you gain work experience, you can choose to specialize in a subfield, such as immunology, microbiology or clinical chemistry.

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