How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician (2023)

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How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician

Are you looking for a high-impact career in healthcare but want to work behind the scenes? If so, then becoming a medical laboratory technician could be a great option. Lab techs play a critical role in patient care and are on the front lines when it comes to testing and analysis. However, unlike doctors, they don’t often interact with patients. Rather, they spend their time working under the supervision of a licensed physician or another superior like a clinical laboratory scientist. Lab techs analyze blood work and other samples and run laboratory tests that influence a patient’s diagnosis and care plan.

Learn more about what a lab tech is, their day-to-day responsibilities, and how you can prepare to become one.

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician (2)

What Is a Medical Laboratory Technician?

Laboratory technicians can be found in industries ranging from microbiology to chemistry and geology. If there are specimens that need testing in a laboratory, lab technicians are likely to be present. Medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) specifically work in hospitals, labs, or testing facilities performing hands-on testing and analysis. This guide will highlight the duties of a medical lab technician and uncover how you can prepare to become one.

Learn about degree options

What Does a Medical Laboratory Technician Do?

A medical lab tech can have various key responsibilities. Some may include:

  • Preparing samples. Medical lab technicians get samples ready to be analyzed. They then use specialized equipment to study microorganisms. MLTs may also perform other functions like examining blood for transfusions and determining drug levels in the blood.
  • Running tests. Medical lab techs often perform tests on various bodily fluids—most commonly blood or urine. They test for diseases by monitoring levels of certain substances that indicate the presence of disease or other ailments.
  • Recording data. Doctors must receive results in order to notify patients of suggested action. Lab techs record the data so this can happen.
  • Ensuring accuracy. Making sure tests and analyses are carried out accurately is critical. Inaccurate recording could lead to errant reporting and devastating consequences. For instance, if data is wrongly recorded, a healthy patient might incorrectly be informed that they have a certain condition. If a patient is prescribed medication for a disease they don’t have, the side effects could be severe, not to mention any potential mental, emotional, and legal repercussions of such an error.
  • Maintaining equipment. It’s vital that lab equipment remains sanitary and in good working condition, according to OSHA regulations. Lab techs must keep a close eye on the instruments they use and dispose of any that are contaminated or not fit for use. In many cases, certain smaller pieces of equipment are only used once to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Creating and maintaining organizational systems. Experienced lab technicians may be charged with designing a way to keep samples organized. They follow best practices and frequently communicate with their supervisor or laboratory manager.
(Video) Become a Medical Lab Tech in 2021? Salary, Jobs, Forecast

How Do I Become a Medical Laboratory Technician?

Schooling and certification are required to become an entry-level lab technician. Here are the requirements:

  • Earn a degree: It’s recommended that medical lab technicians earn at least an associate degree in a program that includes clinical rotations or at least six months of lab experience. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is preferable, particularly for those who wish to move up within the lab. Relevant bachelor’s degrees may include a bachelor’s in healthcare management or health services coordination. Those seeking a master’s degree might opt for a master’s of health leadership or an MBA in healthcare management.
  • Complete certification: Most employers require lab techs to be certified. Certifications can be earned through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification or the American Medical Technologists (AMT) Organization. The ASCP certification is more widely recognized and highly regarded in the field.
  • Gain additional experience: The more experience you gain in the lab, the greater chance you’ll have to progress in your career. Spending time in the laboratory after earning a degree can help you reach your career goals.

Best Degrees for a Medical Laboratory Technician

Health Services Coordination – B.S.

An online health degree program for students passionate about...

An online health degree program for students...

An online health degree program for students passionate about value-based care and dedicated to helping others.

  • Time:60% of graduates of similar programs finish within3 years.
  • Tuition and fees:$3,650 per 6-month term, plus a one-time Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Sample careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Care coordinator
  • Patient advocate
  • Health services coordinator
  • Patient educator
  • Community health educator

This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also directly working with patients who need help.

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician (3)

College of Health Professions

More Details Apply Now

Master of Health Leadership

A master's focused on managing comprehensive, value-based care,...

A master's focused on managing comprehensive,...

A master's focused on managing comprehensive, value-based care, directly in line with innovations in health and healthcare.

  • Time:78% of grads finish within 18-24 months.
  • Tuition and fees:$4,240 per 6-month term.

Examples of careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Managed care executive
  • Director of integrated care management
  • Health center manager/clinic manager
  • Director of integrated facilities

Your rich experience in a health-related field can mean more when you bring a master's level of understanding to the problems that organizations need to solve.

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This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare.Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

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(Video) Everything you need to know about Medical laboratory technician part 1

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician (4)

College of Health Professions

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Healthcare Management – B.S. Business Administration

You can become a healthcare industry leader:...

You can become a healthcare industry leader:...

You can become a healthcare industry leader:


Compare with B.S. Health Information Management

  • Time: 73% of graduates finish within 30 months.
  • Tuition:$3,575 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Health information manager
  • Community service manager
  • Clinical manager
  • Medical records manager
  • Social service manager

The online courses in this career-focused business degree program will prepare you with management-level skills and an up-to-date understanding of our healthcare delivery system.

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician (5)

College of Business

More Details Apply Now

MBA Healthcare Management

Prepare for a career leading private or public healthcare...

Prepare for a career leading private or public...

Prepare for a career leading private or public healthcare organizations.

(Video) How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Technologist or Technician

  • Time: Graduates can finish within 12 months.
  • Tuition:$4,530 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Administrative director
  • Chief financial officer
  • Other executive-level roles

Healthcare is big business in today's complex economy. Steer your career with this specialty MBA.

Compare online business degrees

This program is not the only online business degree WGU offers that is designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare.Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

Compare Similar Degrees

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician (6)

College of Business

More Details Apply Now

Next Start Date

Start the 1st of any month—as soon as you complete enrollment!

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Our online university degree programs start on the first of every month, all year long.

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

Learn about online college admissions at WGU.

Compare nursing degree options.

There are BSN degree options to choose from. Compare them to find the best fit for you.

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(Video) HOW I BECAME A CLINICAL LABORATORY SCIENTIST With A Biology Degree (Laboratory Technologist) + Tips

What Skills Does a Medical Laboratory Technician Need?

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician (7)

A medical lab tech can have various key responsibilities. Some may include:

  • Preparing samples. Medical lab technicians get samples ready to be analyzed. They then use specialized equipment to study microorganisms. MLTs may also perform other functions like examining blood for transfusions and determining drug levels in the blood.
  • Running tests. Medical lab techs often perform tests on various bodily fluids—most commonly blood or urine. They test for diseases by monitoring levels of certain substances that indicate the presence of disease or other ailments.
  • Recording data. Doctors must receive results in order to notify patients of suggested action. Lab techs record the data so this can happen.
  • Ensuring accuracy. Making sure tests and analyses are carried out accurately is critical. Inaccurate recording could lead to errant reporting and devastating consequences. For instance, if data is wrongly recorded, a healthy patient might incorrectly be informed that they have a certain condition. If a patient is prescribed medication for a disease they don’t have, the side effects could be severe, not to mention any potential mental, emotional, and legal repercussions of such an error.
  • Maintaining equipment. It’s vital that lab equipment remains sanitary and in good working condition, according toOSHA regulations. Lab techs must keep a close eye on the instruments they use and dispose of any that are contaminated or not fit for use. In many cases, certain smaller pieces of equipment are only used once to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Creating and maintaining organizational systems. Experienced lab technicians may be charged with designing a way to keep samples organized. They followbest practicesand frequently communicate with their supervisor or laboratory manager.

How Much Does a Medical Laboratory Technician Make?

$57,800

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for clinical lab technicians and technologists in 2021 was $57,800. Many entry-level lab tech position salaries can be around $44,000. As with most professions, pay varies depending on location and experience level.

What is the Projected Job Growth?

7%

The BLS projects the job market for clinical lab techs and technologists to grow by 7% from 2021 to 2031, creating 21,800 new clinical and lab technician jobs.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician?

Yes

To become a medical lab tech, you’ll need at least an associate degree in an applicable field. It should include clinical and lab experience. It’s recommended that you obtain a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree if you wish to advance within the profession.

Interested in Becoming a Medical Laboratory Technician?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

(Video) Becoming a Medical Laboratory Technician

View degree programs

FAQs

How much are lab technicians paid in Kenya? ›

Laboratory Technician Salaries
Job TitleSalary
SGS Laboratory Technician salaries - 1 salaries reportedKES 35,000/mo
New Kenya Co-Operative Creameries Laboratory Technician salaries - 1 salaries reportedKES 25,000/mo
Twiga Chemical Industries Laboratory Technician salaries - 1 salaries reportedKES 20,000/mo
17 more rows

What do I need to become a medical laboratory assistant? ›

A levels (or equivalent level 3 qualifications) aren't usually required for this role, as you'd train while you're working. Typically you'd be working towards a relevant healthcare science qualification. You may be able to enter this type of role through a healthcare science assistant apprenticeship.

What is the salary of a lab technician? ›

How Do Medical Technician Salaries Compare?
CareerMedian Annual Salary
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians$57,800
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians$57,800
Phlebotomists$37,380
Biological Technicians$48,140
1 more row

What degree is best for lab technician? ›

To become a medical laboratory technician, you'll need either an associate or bachelor's degree in clinical laboratory science. This type of degree includes courses in chemistry, biology, math, and statistics, and will prepare you for an entry-level job.

Can I do lab technician with a D +? ›

Minimum entry requirements are an average D+ in KCSE or a division III in KCE. Those with D+ or credits in English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry of Physical Science have an advantage.

Is lab technician is a good career? ›

Medical Lab technology is a productive and challenging field. The initial salary package for a medical lab technology/ technician ranges from Rs 10,000 - Rs 20,000 per month in hospitals and in clinics.

Where do lab techs make the most money? ›

MLT professionals earned an average salary of $57,800 in 2021, and salaries are expected to increase in 2022 and 2023.
...
The BLS claims these are the states with the highest average salary for medical lab technologists:
  • New York – $72,500.
  • Rhode Island – $70,580.
  • Connecticut – $70,220.
  • Oregon – $69,330.
  • California – $68,450.
2 Jun 2022

How much does a lab assistant get paid? ›

The average laboratory assistant salary in South Africa is R 792 300 per year or R 406 per hour. Entry-level positions start at R 172 422 per year, while most experienced workers make up to R 3 505 569 per year.

How do I start working in a lab? ›

Lab technicians need at minimum a high school diploma or equivalent to work. Most companies prefer at least an Associate's Degree in Laboratory Science or related major. It can be helpful to earn a degree from an institution accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

What comes after medical lab technician? ›

With additional training and experience, a medical lab scientist can become a department lead or lab manager. Others may seek specializations to advance their careers. Typically, a medical lab technician will progress to a medical lab scientist with more training.

What kind of technicians make the most money? ›

From medical technicians to electricians, the earning potential of a technician is largely dependent on the industry in which they work. A career as a nuclear technician is one of the highest paying jobs that fall under the technician umbrella. Nuclear technicians tend to make salaries in the range of $80,000 per year.

Which medical technician makes most money? ›

20 Highest Paid Non-Physician Jobs in Healthcare
  • Orthotic and Prosthetics Professionals.
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists. ...
  • Radiologic and MRI Technicians. ...
  • Dietitians and Nutritionists. ...
  • Respiratory Therapist. ...

What is the work of a medical lab technician? ›

Medical lab technicians prepare samples for analysis, use equipment to locate microorganisms, monitor tests and procedures, analyze the chemical content of fluids, match blood for transfusions, and test for drug levels in the blood.

Is studying lab technician hard? ›

Due to the technical nature of these courses, the skills and topics you'll learn can be challenging at times. After all, the human body is an amazing thing and requires in-depth study.

What course should I take if I want to work in a laboratory? ›

Medical laboratory scientists must complete a bachelor's degree in health, medical or biomedical science. To further your career as a medical laboratory scientist, consider postgraduate studies to specialise in a particular subject area within the field.

How long is medical lab technician? ›

Admission in Medical Lab Technology Course

One can do a certificate program (CMLT) which is of six-month duration. A diploma program (DMLT) which is of one-year duration. An advanced diploma program in medical lab technology (ADMLT) of two years. Bachelors in medical lab technology (BMLT) a 3-year program.

Where can I study laboratory technician? ›

Universities Offering Medical Laboratory Programs in South Africa
  • Tshwane University of Technology.
  • Durban University of Technology.
  • Vaal University of Technology.
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
  • Nelson Mandela University.
  • Pathcare.

Is lab technician is a doctor? ›

Ans. Medical lab technicians are healthcare professionals who work with physicians, but they are not doctors. A medical technologist can become a doctor by enrolling in medical school and completing their education in their chosen field.

What are the requirements to study medical laboratory science? ›

UTME Requirement for Medical Laboratory Science: Five (5) SSC credit passes in English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

How many hours a week do lab techs work? ›

Most work full time, about 40 hours per week. May work nights, weekends, or holidays. Hospitals need tests run at all hours of the day.

What are the disadvantages of being a lab technician? ›

It's a fast-paced job. This job will keep you on your toes as it requires a lot of work around the lab. At times, it can be very busy or hectic, especially with the pandemic.

Do lab technicians draw blood? ›

While both a lab technician and phlebotomist collect blood samples. A phlebotomist works solely with blood samples and does clerical work, and a medical lab technician can deal with all bodily fluids including blood and also runs sample testing.

How many types of lab technicians are there? ›

8 Types of Medical Lab Technician Jobs you can opt for!

Are MLT in demand? ›

Employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Is a Masters in medical laboratory Science worth it? ›

A master's degree helps medical laboratory scientists become leaders in a field that is highly valued and continues to grow as the instruments and technologies used to detect disease and monitor treatment become more sophisticated.

Who pays the most for phlebotomist? ›

California

Is being a lab assistant stressful? ›

More than 53% reported high stress, compared with 42.7% who felt no stress at all.

Who works in a lab at a hospital? ›

A clinical laboratory technician (CLT) or Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) performs routine tests in all areas of the clinical laboratory. Usually, CLTs/MLTs have an associate degree and have completed an accredited CLT or certificate program.

Do you need experience to work in a lab? ›

Most employers provide training for lab assistants with no experience before the official start of your employment. You usually do not need a license to work in a research laboratory, but some states require licenses for medical lab assistants, so make sure to check the criteria where you live.

What is the difference between a Med Tech and a lab tech? ›

The difference between a medical technician vs medical technologist is this: medical laboratory technicians are limited to performing only routine testing duties in most situations. Medical technologists, or clinical laboratory scientists, usually oversee the technicians' work in addition to their own duties.

What is difference between MLT and lab technician? ›

DMLT stands for Diploma in Medical Lab Technology. This is a specialised course in the paramedical science field. Once you complete the course from a recognised institute of health sciences, you'll be recognised as a professional in the field as a medical laboratory technician.

What careers are in a lab? ›

20 types of jobs in a laboratory
  • Medical equipment repairer.
  • Research technician.
  • Microbiology technician.
  • Chemistry technician.
  • Phlebotomist.
  • DNA analyst.
  • Histotechnologist.
  • Forensic science technician.
14 Dec 2021

Do you need to go to school to be a lab technician? ›

Lab technicians need at minimum a high school diploma or equivalent to work. Most companies prefer at least an Associate's Degree in Laboratory Science or related major. It can be helpful to earn a degree from an institution accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Do lab technicians earn well? ›

The highest-paying job at Lab Tech is a Laboratory Technologist with a salary of ₹2.8 Lakhs per year. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹3 lakhs per year. The top 1% earn more than a whopping ₹4.89 lakhs per year.

What skills do lab techs need? ›

Qualities of Laboratory Science Technicians
  • Good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Ability to multi task.
  • Good problem solving skills.
  • Ability to think analytically and critically.
  • Ability to read.
  • Enjoy learning.
  • Students should have a strong background in math and science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics)

Is lab technician a good career? ›

So, if you're aspiring to be a part of the healthcare industry but aren't keen on working frontline, a career in Medical Lab Technology could be ideal for you. To pursue a professional career, you must complete a BSc MLT course from a reputed college or institute.

How long does Certificate in medical laboratory take? ›

This is a two year course.

What are the highest paying lab jobs? ›

6 high-paying laboratory jobs
  1. Laboratory technician. National average salary: $59,410 per year. ...
  2. Microbiologist. National average salary: $61,637 per year. ...
  3. Medical technologist. National average salary: $64,596 per year. ...
  4. Forensic scientist. National average salary: $69,263 per year. ...
  5. Laboratory manager. ...
  6. Cytotechnologist.
25 Apr 2022

Is being a medical lab tech stressful? ›

A nationwide survey of more than 4,600 laboratory professionals revealed that most remain satisfied with their jobs despite high levels of stress and burnout.

What is the difference between lab technician and lab technologist? ›

Both technicians and technologists perform tests and procedures that physicians and surgeons or other healthcare personnel order. However, technologists perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians do.

What can I be to work at a lab? ›

20 types of jobs in a laboratory
  • Medical equipment repairer.
  • Research technician.
  • Microbiology technician.
  • Chemistry technician.
  • Phlebotomist.
  • DNA analyst.
  • Histotechnologist.
  • Forensic science technician.
14 Dec 2021

Do you have to be good at math to be a lab tech? ›

While mathematics is not a large portion of a laboratory technician degree program, laboratory technicians are expected to know a certain amount of mathematics. Most programs require students to take a mathematics placement exam to test their level of math knowledge.

What is the next position after lab technician? ›

Some medical laboratory technicians advance to technologist positions after gaining experience and additional education. Some colleges have bachelors degree programs for medical laboratory technicians to become technologists (often referred to as MLT to MLS programs).

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