Certified Lab Technician: Career, Outlook and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a certified lab technician. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, certification and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Certified Lab Technician?

Lab technicians examine and test medical specimens to help healthcare providers make diagnoses. This sometimes includes running analyses on bodily fluids, such as blood. This is done with the use medical laboratory equipment and automated computer instrumentation. Using the equipment, these professionals are often able to perform multiple tests simultaneously. After tests are completed, doctors can use the results to diagnose a patient's ailments and prescribe treatment.

The table below provides information for this career.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Medical lab technology or clinical lab technology
Key Responsibilities Perform lab tests on blood and tissue samples, record test results, maintain lab equipment
Certification Multiple certification options from the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the American Association of Bioanalysts and American Medical Technologists
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18% (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)*
Median Salary (2015) $38,970 (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Job Duties Be as a Certified Lab Technician?

As a certified lab technician, you assist with the diagnosis and treatment of disease by performing lab tests on blood and tissue samples. During your workday you might prepare blood, urine and other fluid and tissue samples for testing; analyze and identify abnormalities and trace indications of disease in samples; confer with medical professionals about the interpretation of test results; and record test results for use in lab reports. You also calibrate, clean and maintain lab equipment. Usually you will be supervised by a lab manager or lab technologist. Sometimes rather than performing general duties you might specialize in drawing blood or cutting and staining tissues.

Where Could I Work?

Most of your job opportunities will be with hospitals, medical labs and physicians' offices, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). About 163,400 medical and clinical lab technicians were employed in the country in 2014. Employment is projected to rise 18%, to 192,400 workers, from 2014-2024. Growth will likely result from an increase in the total number of tests performed and from the introduction of new types of tests. Retirements and turnover will also be factors in job availability. As of May 2015 the median annual salary for the position was $38,970.

What Education Should I Consider?

Associate's degree programs in medical lab technology or clinical lab technology should help you develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become a lab technician. While in such a program, you learn the correct procedures for performing routine and complex tests for diagnostic and research purposes. Courses also cover such topics as human anatomy and physiology, hematology, microbiology and serology. Most programs include a clinical practicum or internship that provides you with direct experience working in a professional lab. Programs are available from community colleges and vocational or technical schools.

What Certifications Can I Earn?

Several organizations offer certification for lab technicians, including the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) and American Medical Technologists (AMT). Each has slightly different requirements for qualification, but an associate's degree and a year of lab experience are common. Military training as a technician or five years of experience as a technician may also be acceptable. Certification exams test your knowledge of lab procedures, chemistry, immunology and other topic areas.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Biological technicians make use of some of the same equipment and may run some of the same tests as certified lab technicians in the medical field, though their roles are often geared more toward advancing research than making diagnoses. Chemical technicians are trained to use chemistry instruments and techniques to aid chemists in their research. Veterinary technicians also conduct many of the same tests certified lab technicians do, but with animals.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Towson
  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • College of Health Care Professions

    College of Health Care Professions responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at College of Health Care Professions:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio
  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »