What Are the Job Duties of a Lab Technician?

A lab technician works in hospital clinical laboratories, running tests on body tissue and fluid samples. Lab technicians assist physicians in determining a patient's health and diagnosing disease. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

A lab technician plays a vital role in the detection and diagnosis of disease. The lab technician examines and analyzes bodily fluids, matches blood types for patient transfusions, and tests drug levels in the blood to determine if a patient is responding to treatment. A lab technician prepares specimens for examination.

Important Facts about this Occupation

Key SkillsAble to use technology, good at working with hands, physically able to stand for long periods of time, detail-oriented
Work SchedulesMay have to work evenings, weekends, overnight
Work Environment May come in contact with hazardous or infectious materials, including ones that produce fumes; safety gear is worn for protection
Similar OccupationsChemical technicians, veterinary technicians and technologists, biological technicians

Nature of the Work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), lab technicians don't perform the complex lab procedures and tests that technologists do. A lab technician will often perform manual tests under the supervision and instruction of lab technologists or managers. A technician may work in several areas of a clinical lab or perform duties of a specific nature, such as taking blood samples.

Education

Medical and clinical lab technicians generally have an associate's degree from a community college or a certificate from a hospital, a vocational school, or the Armed Forces. Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed or registered. Many employers prefer applicants who are certified by a professional association, such as The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) provides a list of accredited educational and training programs (naacls.org).

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics

Excellent job opportunities and rapid job growth for a lab technician are expected. The BLS reports that employment is expected to grow 18% for all medical and clinical laboratory technicians between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average. In May 2014, the bureau indicated that the average salary earned by lab technicians was $40,750 a year.

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