What Are the Duties of a Laboratory Technician?

Laboratory technicians perform a variety of tasks in clinical and medical settings ranging from drawing blood to performing lab tests. Read on to learn about the specific career duties as well as educational information and employment statistics. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Laboratory Technicians Duties and Responsibilities

As a laboratory technician, you'll collect samples of body fluids and tissues and perform clinical tests analyzing these samples. These tests are usually of a simpler nature than those performed by laboratory technologists, who have more advanced training and often oversee and instruct technicians. Be prepared to conduct manual tests, as well as tests involving automated laboratory equipment. You'll be responsible for maintaining and sterilizing equipment, recording test findings and discussing test results with physicians. Additionally, you may conduct tests with the intent of determining a certain treatments' overall effectiveness.

Some specialties exist within the laboratory technology field. Phlebotomists, for example, are primarily concerned with the collection of the blood samples used for laboratory tests, blood donations and transfusion procedures. Histotechnicians, another specialty of laboratory technicians, are responsible for preparing the microscopic slides of tissue specimens that pathologists use to make their diagnoses.

Important Facts About Laboratory Technicians

On-the-Job Training Training in field specializations will be required for advancement
Key Skills Attention to detail, technologically adept, manual dexterity, physical stamina and endurance
Work Environment Typically full-time; may include nights, weekends, and overnight hours
Similar Occupations Biological technicians, chemical technicians, chemists, materials scientists, veterinary technologists and technicians

Educational Requirements

To enter this profession, you'll need to complete a certificate or associate's degree program in clinical laboratory science. Certificate programs tend to focus strictly on technical training, while associate's degree programs include both technical training and general education. These programs equip students with the scientific and medical knowledge they need to carry out laboratory testing and analysis. Curricula often feature courses in:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Urinalysis

Licensure Info

Licensure is required for laboratory technicians in some states. You may need to earn certification as part of your licensure requirements, which requires graduating from an accredited program and passing an examination. If licensure is not required in your state, certification may still be required or preferred by many employers.

Employment and Salary Info

In May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that there were 160,460 people employed as medical and clinical laboratory technicians (www.bls.gov). The majority of these laboratory technicians were employed in hospitals, medical laboratories and physicians' offices. The BLS also reported in May 2014 that the average yearly salary of medical and clinical laboratory technicians was $40,750. A healthy employment growth of 30% was predicted for medical and clinical laboratory technicians between 2012 and 2022, according the BLS. This growth may be partially due to an aging population, who will need diagnostic tests in the coming years, as well as an increase in medical care access due to federal health legislation.

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