What Is a Medical Technologist? - Salary, Certification & Job Description

If a career working in a laboratory and helping patients receive a diagnosis sounds like the ideal career for you, consider the field of medical technology. Read on to learn about the role, salary and requirements to becoming a medical technologist. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Medical technologist test bodily fluids in a laboratory and report results to help doctors reach a diagnosis. Medical technologists, also known as medical laboratory scientists play an important role in a healthcare system, where they conduct tests that uncover diseases. The table below details the key facts you need to know.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Medical technology, life sciences
Certification and Licensure Licensure dependent on state; certification preferred by some employers
Key Skills Dexterity, analytical skills, eye for detail, physical stamina, work well under pressure, integrity
Salary (2017) $51,770 (for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% (for all medical and clinical laboratory technologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Is a Medical Technologist?

Medical technologist collect a samples and performs laboratory tests using sophisticated equipment to analyze bodily fluids, like blood, urine, and spinal fluid, to help other health care professionals diagnose, monitor and treat diseases. Pathologists and physicians rely on the lab results to ascertain a patient's diagnosis, and so technologists must produce accurate and valid test results. As well as testing bodily fluid for disease, medical technologists may develop and improve test procedures, teach junior technologists and technicians and manage laboratories. Hospitals and diagnostic laboratories are open 24/7 and so technologists may work weekdays, evenings and nights.

What Do I Need to Study to Become a Medical Technologist?

Medical technologists need a bachelor's degree in medical technology or the life sciences. Medical technology programs focus on biology, chemistry, microbiology and math, alongside developing laboratory skills. Completion of a program accredited is often required for certification, so you may want to look for programs that have been approved by the American Medical Technologists, the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, or the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

What Are the Main Specializations for Medical Technologists?

Most medical technologists work in a hospital, although they can work in diagnostic laboratories too. Within a hospital, techs may work in chemistry, blood banking, urinalysis, hematology, coagulation and microbiology. Medical technologist who focus in chemistry examine a sample for protein, electrolytes and drug levels while those working in blood banking handle typing and matching blood. A technologist in urinalysis analyze urine samples and those working in hematology examines types of blood cells in a sample. Technologist working in coagulation focus on blood clotting, and microbiology is where technologist identify the type of microbes causing infection of a patient.

How Much does a Medical Technologist Earn?

The median annual salary reported by BLS for all medical technologists and technicians was $51,770 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned $29,640 or less whilst the highest 10 percent earned $79,530 or more annually. Technologist and technicians working in hospitals earned higher than average salaries annually whilst those working in outpatient care centers earned only a median salary of $45,420.

What Licensure Do I Need to be a Medical Technologist?

Like most health care professionals, medical technologists require a licence to operate in some states, and in order to obtain a license you must often need certification. However, employers may prefer medical technologist to still have certification even if it is not a state requirement. Medical technologists typically gain certification through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Medical Technologists (AMT) or American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB).

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