What Is a Lab Technologist?

Lab technologists work in a clinical setting at a hospital, medical laboratory, or physician's office, and they use sophisticated medical instruments to help doctors detect and diagnose medical problems. Read on to see the specific occupational duties, educational requirements, and employment statistics for lab technologists. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Defined

As a lab technologist, also known as a medical technologist or medical laboratory scientist, you're responsible for performing intricate medical tests and operating laboratory equipment. You might analyze patients' test results to detect the presence or absence of diseases, cancer cells, or other abnormalities and relay these findings to physicians. You have many professional specialization options, such as clinical chemistry, immunology, and microbiology, but if you work at a smaller facility, you may be expected to cover many different areas. You also may be in charge of supervising lab technicians, who usually perform simpler tasks than lab technologists.

Important Facts About This Occupation

On-the Job-Training Degree programs may include hands-on lab experience
Key Skills Using technology, working with hands, paying attention to detail
Work Environment May work evenings, weekends, and overnight; may be exposed to hazardous or infectious materials
Similar Occupations Biological technicians, chemical technicians

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

To become a lab technologist, you're usually required to hold a bachelor's degree. A Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology program is the most common educational path. During a bachelor's degree program in medical technology, you'll study a variety of science-related topics, such as biochemistry, anatomy, and microbiology. You'll also gain specialized skills and knowledge needed to work in and manage a medical laboratory. A license is required in some states in order to work in a laboratory. This often requires applicants to pass a licensing exam. In addition to the license, once you've received your bachelor's degree, you might also be interested in seeking voluntary certification from an agency like the American Medical Technologists to increase your job prospects (www.americanmedtech.org).

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), there were 321,220 people employed as medical and clinical laboratory technologists as of May 2018. An occupational growth of 13% was projected by the BLS for the years 2016-2026. The BLS also stated that medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned a mean wage of $53,880 per year as of May 2018. The BLS expected increased job openings due to an aging population and an increase in people that will have health insurance.

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