Medical Lab Technician Course Requirements

Looking for a career in medicine without an overwhelming barrier of entry? Consider becoming a medical lab technician. Find out about medical lab technician programs, the courses involved, and the licenses and credentials needed by continuing below. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Medical Lab Technicians Do?

Medical lab technicians, or MLTs, perform tests on blood and cell samples in clinical laboratory settings. They share the results with doctors in order to help diagnose patients. Technician jobs in the medical field often involve the use of complex, high-tech machines that require special training. This training is typically acquired through associate's degree programs that are certified by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Scienc (NAACLS).

Degree Level Associate's degree
Program Requirements Certifications or prerequisites could be necessary; background check, drug screenings, and medical exams used for clinical hours
Courses Chemistry, immunology, hematology, urinalysis
Certification Medical Laboratory Technician certification: MLT(ASCP)

What Kind of Programs Exist For Medical Lab Technicians?

Medical lab technician programs are almost exclusively associate's degree programs, as this fits best with the NAACLS accreditation requirements, and as such need two years to complete. MLT programs often include internship components, offering students a chance to acquire real-world experience before entering the job market. Most programs are designed to enable a student to pass the required certification exams after graduation.

What Are Some Things to Keep in Mind Before I Apply to a Medical Lab Technician Program?

Medical lab technician programs can have significantly different requirements. Certain undergraduate prerequisite courses may be needed before admission to the program; if these are not met, students could be allowed to take them at the university on a limited basis until they have been satisfactorily completed. Some schools may ask for prior certification, such as the certification for phlebotomists. Most programs use criminal background checks, regular drug screenings and medical checks before students perform their clinical rotations. Reliable transportation is also important as work at affiliated hospitals and clinics is nearly always part of the program.

What Are the Course Requirements Among Medical Lab Technician Programs?

Medical lab technician programs will consist of a general education core, as is typical for associate's degree programs, in addition to the courses required for the major. Science courses are a heavy focus, requiring classes on subjects like microbiology, chemistry, and psychology. Math also plays a role, with courses like algebra and trigonometry. The bulk of coursework focuses on medicine specifically, with classes such as immunology, hematology, urinalysis, and medical terminology. Programs can require anywhere from 66 credit hours to as much as 76, with the variance often made up with an increase in clinical practice time. Most classes are three credit hours, with labs as an additional one credit hour. Practical training can take up to 15 weeks, with seven to eight hours of on-site training at hospitals or clinical facilities each week, on average.

What Certifications Are Needed to Work as a Medical Lab Technician?

A Medical Laboratory Technician certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is the nationally recognized certification for this career. In order to take the exam, an NAACLS approved degree program must be completed, consisting of at least 60 credit hours, within the five years before testing. Passage of the ASCP's MLT exam grants the certification, and allows one to apply for a license to practice within the state as a medical lab technician. Other qualifications to take the test are available for former military or experienced workers, but the exam always requires an associate's degree of some sort.

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