Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician

Biotechnician, Blood and Plasma Laboratory Assistant, Blood Bank Laboratory Technician   More Names
Blood or Blood Bank Technician, Blood Typer, Catheterization Laboratory Technician, Certified Clinical Laboratory Technician, Certified Dialysis Technician, Clinical Laboratory Assistant (Clinical Lab Assistant), Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Laboratory Technician (Clinical Lab Technician), Clinical Research Assistant, Clinical Technician, Cytogenetic Technician, Hematology Technician, Hemodialysis Technician, Histologic Aide, Histologic Technician, Histology Technician, Histopathology Technician, Histotechnician, Laboratory Assistant (Lab Assistant), Laboratory Supervisor, Laboratory Technician, Laboratory Worker, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians, Medical Lab Assistant, Medical Laboratory Assistant, Medical Laboratory Technician (Medical Lab Tech), Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), Medical Laboratory Technicians (Medical Lab Technician), Medical Numerical Control Operator, Medical Technician, Microbiology Technician, Neurology Technician, Pathological Technician, Pathologist Assistant, Pathology Technician, Patient Care Technician, Pharmaceutical Laboratory Technician, Serology Technician, Sleep Technician, Specimen Accessioner, Specimen Processor, Tissue Technician, Vascular Technician
Description

Perform routine medical laboratory tests for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Conduct chemical analysis of body fluids, such as blood and urine, to detect abnormalities, diseases, or infections.

Conduct blood tests for transfusion purposes and perform blood counts. Analyze the results of tests and record data for reports. May work under the supervision of medical and clinical laboratory scientists (this is the new name that now is commonly used by practitioners in place of medical and clinical laboratory technologists).

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians are employed in hospital laboratories, physician and other private laboratories and clinics, industrial medical laboratories, and in various medical and clinical laboratories operated by federal, state, or local government agencies. In general, they do less complex procedures than those performed by medical and clinical laboratory scientists.

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians examine and analyze body fluids including blood and urine in a laboratory setting. The samples they analyze are provided by physicians and surgeons. They look for bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions; and test for drug levels in the blood that show how a patient is responding to treatment. They also prepare specimens for examination, count cells, and look for abnormal cells in blood and body fluids.

In their daily work, they use microscopes, chemistry analyzers, cell counters, and other laboratory equipment. After testing and examining a specimen, they evaluate test results and inform their supervisor or the requesting physician or surgeon what they are.

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians help to carry-out quality assurance programs and activities to ensure the accuracy of laboratory results. They help to set up, clean, and maintain laboratory equipment, and ensure that proper safety procedures are implemented to prevent the spread of infectious disease or contamination of laboratory samples.

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians, like medical and clinical laboratory scientists, may work in several areas of the clinical laboratory or specialize in just one. Such clinical laboratory specialty areas include clinical chemistry; microbiology; hematology; immunology; molecular biology; and urinalysis. Technicians who work in small laboratories often may help medical and clinical laboratory scientists perform a number of these specialty tests, while those in large laboratories may work with just one or two testing types.

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians need to have good analytical judgment, the ability to work under pressure, and have good problem solving skills. Close attention to detail is also essential for laboratory personnel because small differences or changes in test substances or numerical readouts can be crucial to a diagnosis. Manual dexterity is highly desirable with the ability to see fine detail also important, and with the widespread use of automated laboratory equipment, computer skills too are important.

Medical and clinical laboratory technicians are trained to work safely with infectious specimens. When proper methods of infection control and sterilization are followed, hazards can be minimized. Among the kinds of protective equipment often used are masks, gloves, and goggles.

The occupation of medical and clinical laboratory technician is an entry-level position on the laboratory technology career ladder. With additional training and experience, it can lead to a mid-level, next step position as a medical and clinical laboratory scientist. With more experience a technologist may move up to a supervisory position, and with further management training possibly become a laboratory manager.

Credentials Needed: Some states require medical and clinical laboratory technicians to be licensed to practice in the state. As of mid-2011, these states included: California; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Illinois; Louisiana; Montana; Nevada; New York; North Dakota; Rhode Island; Tennessee, and West Virginia. This list will update periodically, so it is a good idea to check with your state to see if they have current licensing requirements to work as a medical and clinical laboratory technician.

Information on licensure is available from State departments of health or boards of occupational licensing. The "Education & Training - Find Programs" link for this career also includes direct links to a number of the states that license medical and clinical laboratory technicians. Licensure requirements vary by State.

Many employers prefer, and some may require, that entry-level medical and clinical laboratory technicians, as well as current employees, have or obtain an appropriate voluntary industry-based certification in the clinical laboratory field. There are a number of associations that offer such credentialing. These include the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Medical Technologists (AMT), and American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB).

Each of these organizations has different requirements for certification, and several sponsor multiple general and specialty credentials. When checking state licensing or employer requirements, it may be helpful also to find out if there is a preference for one or more of these different credentials or certification sponsors.

Some Key Things to Remember: Medical and clinical laboratory technicians perform routine medical laboratory tests for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. They conduct chemical analysis of body fluids, such as blood and urine, to detect abnormalities, diseases, or infections. They may work under the supervision of medical and clinical laboratory scientists, who are responsible for performing more complex tasks.

A two year associate degree in medical technology, or a certificate, is the usual education and training requirement for an entry-level position as a medical and clinical laboratory technician. Some states require technicians to be licensed. Voluntary industry-based certification plays an important role in this occupation.

Preceding written narrative as well as that for the Education & Training narrative section reviewed for content and accuracy by Donna J. Spannaus-Martin, Ph.D., MLS, Professor of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Minnesota, December 23, 2011.

More Details
Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
18% - Faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $31,250 - $49,920    Hourly: $15 - $24
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Manual dexterity is highly desirable and the ability to see fine detail is important.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Bachelor's Degree (High School + 4 or more Years)
Find Programs

Percent Job Growth:

18% - Faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $31,250 - $49,920

Hourly: $15 - $24