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Medical Lab Technologists picture    Medical Lab Technologists image

A medical lab technologist's role is to provide accurate laboratory results. The test results are utilized by clinical practitioners to confirm or rule out diagnoses, examine the effects of various medical therapies and to monitor chronic disease changes. Medical lab technologists perform complicated tests such as chemical, microscopic, immunologic, hematological, biological and bacteriological.

They utilize microscopes and analytical equipment to analyze blood and other body fluids. They check for parasites, bacteria and other types of microorganisms. Due to their tasks, they're trained to work with infectious specimens. In addition, their work has become more analytical and less hands-on due to automation and computer technology.

Lab technologists utilize techniques including bone marrow counts and manual white blood cell differentials. They also analyze test results and design and make modifications to procedures. Overseeing programs to make sure tests are accurate is part of the occupation. Lab technologists also look for anomalies in test results and correct the problems with instrumentation. In addition, they consult with doctors and nurses regarding the selection of the correct lab tests and collection procedures.

Lab technologists employed in large laboratories typically have a specialty. Those working in small laboratories perform a variety of tests. Specialties are available in numerous areas including microbiology, genetics, parasitology, mycology, immunohematology, cytotechnology, immunology and molecular.

Laboratory technologists usually have more education and training than lab technicians. Technologists are typically required to have a bachelor's degree. Technologists perform more complicated procedures and tests than technicians.

Responsibilities

  • Make cultures of tissue samples and body fluids to determine if parasites, bacteria, fungi or other microorganisms exist
  • Evaluate samples for chemical content or a chemical reaction and ascertain the concentrations of particular compounds
  • Type and cross-match blood samples for transfusions
  • Perform tests such as metabolic panel, electrolyte panel, complete blood count and liver function tests
  • Examine the chemical content of fluids
  • Perform urinalysis, renal function, lipid profile, thyroid function and coagulation profile tests
  • Perform tests on routine cultures
  • Test drug levels in patient's blood to determine how a patient is responding to treatment
  • Prepare specimens for examination
  • Check for abnormal cells in body fluids
  • Analyze test results
  • Detect and remove contaminated or sub-standard specimens
  • Monitor, screen and troubleshoot analytical equipment
  • Calibrate laboratory equipment
  • Utilize automated equipment and computerized instruments to simultaneously perform numerous tests

Job Characteristics

Lab technologists usually wear protective goggles, masks and gloves. Laboratories are usually clean, however sometimes fumes are produced by solutions, specimens and reagents.

Those in the profession should be able to perform well under pressure, pay close attention to details and have good analytical judgement. Good manual dexterity and normal color vision are also important. In addition, they should be proficient with computers.

Laboratory workers in large hospitals typically work the day, evening or night shift. Also, they sometimes have to work on weekends and holidays. Medical laboratory technologists that work in small facilities may have rotating work shifts. In some facilities, they may be called at night or during the weekends, in case of an emergency.

Employment Outlook

The median annual earnings for medical and clinical lab technologists in 2006 was $49,700. There were about 167,000 positions for medical and clinical laboratory technologists in 2006. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates a 14% growth rate in the employment of clinical laboratory workers from 2006 to 2016, which is faster than average for all other occupations. The majority of the increase in demand for laboratory workers will be due to population growth and the development of new types of tests.

Employment for laboratory jobs is expected to grow the fastest in medical and diagnostic laboratories and physician offices. However, hospitals are projected to be the major employers. It's projected that the need for clinical laboratory workers will exceed the number of workers available.

Experienced lab technologists have opportunities to advance into supervisory positions in laboratory work. They also may become chief medical or clinical laboratory technologists and laboratory managers in hospitals. A graduate degree in medical technology, chemistry, biological sciences, education or management along with professional certification typically speeds up career advancement.

Medical Lab Technologist Schools, Certification, and Licensing

Medical lab technologists usually obtain a bachelor's degree in medical technology, also referred to as clinical laboratory science, or a degree in one of the life sciences. Some may qualify as a medical lab technologist with a combination of on-the-job training, specialized training and education. In addition, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act requires technologists that perform very complex tests to have, at a minimum, an associate degree.

Universities and hospitals provide medical technology education programs. In the majority of medical technology curriculums, students take classroom courses for three years and are provided with clinical rotations for one year. Some programs include different time frames for classroom learning and clinical rotations. During clinical rotations, the students are provided with hands-on training in each laboratory subject and perform diagnostic testing in a laboratory.

The education programs typically included courses in microbiology, chemistry, biological sciences, mathematics and statistics. Specialized courses are also included. Some of the programs include training in computer applications. Those seeking to specialize in the profession, often take unique undergraduate education courses for their specialty. However, the majority of medical technologists are generalists.

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences accredits a large number of programs for medical lab technologists. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools provide accreditation for distinct fields for clinical laboratory workers.

In order for lab technologists to be licensed, they often must have a bachelors's degree and pass an exam. However, the requirements vary by state and by the specialty. Many employers prefer to hire laboratory personnel that have been certified by a recognized professional association. Associations offering accreditation include the Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the National Accrediting Agency for Laboratory Personnel and the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts. The agencies have different requirements for certification.

Resources

Major Employers

The major employers of medical lab technologists are hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, physician offices, the federal government and colleges and universities.

Schools for Medical Lab Technologists are listed in the column to the left.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Medical Lab Technologists

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Medical Lab Technologists jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 880 $57,470
Hoover 880 $57,470
Mobile 270 $54,410
Montgomery 230 $48,560
Huntsville 210 $55,250
Dothan 100 $49,960
Tuscaloosa 80 $48,700
Opelika 80 $51,260
Auburn 80 $51,260
Oxford 50 $44,620
Jacksonville 50 $44,620
Anniston 50 $44,620
Fairhope 50 $48,520
Daphne 50 $48,520
Foley 50 $48,520
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 140 $71,370
Fairbanks 40 $68,030
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 1730 $61,860
Mesa 1730 $61,860
Phoenix 1730 $61,860
Tucson 1040 $57,000
Prescott 70 $65,550
Flagstaff 70 $71,730
Lake Havasu City 50 $64,250
Kingman 50 $64,250
Douglas 40 $50,960
Sierra Vista 40 $50,960
Yuma 40 $67,740
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 500 $54,910
North Little Rock 500 $54,910
Little Rock 500 $54,910
Jonesboro 70 N/A
Hot Springs 40 $48,970
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Los Angeles 4900 $81,020
Long Beach 4900 $81,020
Anaheim 4900 $81,020
Oakland 1250 $83,070
Hayward 1250 $83,070
San Francisco 1250 $83,070
San Diego 1100 $77,160
Carlsbad 1100 $77,160
Santa Clara 730 $87,560
Sunnyvale 730 $87,560
San Jose 730 $87,560
Arcade 460 $96,910
Roseville 460 $96,910
Sacramento 460 $96,910
Arden 460 $96,910
Ontario 430 $82,530
Riverside 430 $82,530
San Bernardino 430 $82,530
Fresno 230 $91,610
Bakersfield 160 $86,440
Modesto 150 $62,410
Stockton 150 $95,310
Lodi 150 $95,310
Santa Maria 120 $90,950
Santa Barbara 120 $90,950
Santa Rosa 110 $73,690
Oxnard 110 $87,320
Ventura 110 $87,320
Thousand Oaks 110 $87,320
Redding 100 $87,900
Paso Robles 60 $90,640
Arroyo Grande 60 $90,640
San Luis Obispo 60 $90,640
Chico 60 $94,840
Yuba City 50 $85,050
Salinas 50 $90,600
Santa Cruz 50 $109,790
Watsonville 50 $109,790
Vallejo 40 $95,660
Fairfield 40 $95,660
Merced 30 $106,260
Visalia N/A $96,590
Porterville N/A $96,590
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 1610 $63,860
Aurora 1610 $63,860
Denver 1610 $63,860
Boulder 170 $67,430
Fort Collins 150 $61,900
Greeley N/A $61,740
Colorado Springs N/A $64,220
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Haven 1080 $69,890
West Hartford 570 $73,610
Hartford 570 $73,610
East Hartford 570 $73,610
Norwalk 470 $71,140
Bridgeport 470 $71,140
Stamford 470 $71,140
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 3180 $60,800
West Palm Beach 3180 $60,800
Fort Lauderdale 3180 $60,800
St. Petersburg 2170 $59,760
Clearwater 2170 $59,760
Tampa 2170 $59,760
Sanford 1390 $57,900
Orlando 1390 $57,900
Kissimmee 1390 $57,900
Jacksonville 720 $59,290
Gainesville 370 $56,330
North Port 300 $58,790
Sarasota 300 $58,790
Bradenton 300 $58,790
Cape Coral 280 $57,790
Fort Myers 280 $57,790
Winter Haven 270 $57,450
Lakeland 270 $57,450
Titusville 250 $52,750
Melbourne 250 $52,750
Palm Bay 250 $52,750
Deltona 230 $59,170
Ormond Beach 230 $59,170
Daytona Beach 230 $59,170
Brent 220 $58,610
Ferry Pass 220 $58,610
Pensacola 220 $58,610
Port St. Lucie 170 $58,520
Tallahassee 110 $58,850
Destin 100 $52,660
Crestview 100 $52,660
Fort Walton Beach 100 $52,660
Marco Island 80 $57,900
Immokalee 80 $57,900
Naples 80 $57,900
Punta Gorda 70 $56,730
Sebastian 70 $59,780
Vero Beach 70 $59,780
Panama City 40 $59,470
Ocala N/A $61,220
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Atlanta 2830 $60,340
Roswell 2830 $60,340
Sandy Springs 2830 $60,340
Savannah 200 $49,830
Gainesville 100 $58,360
Valdosta 80 $48,130
Warner Robins 80 $52,370
Rome N/A $63,230
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 520 $68,290
Lahaina 30 $57,910
Wailuku 30 $57,910
Kahului 30 $57,910
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 280 $60,110
Idaho Falls 50 $66,550
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 250 $59,560
Springfield 120 $54,500
Champaign 90 $58,880
Urbana 90 $58,880
Carbondale 60 $62,920
Marion 60 $62,920
Bloomington 50 $56,740
Kankakee N/A $59,460
Rockford N/A $61,740
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carmel 1790 $62,210
Anderson 1790 $62,210
Indianapolis 1790 $62,210
Fort Wayne 330 $58,090
Terre Haute 80 $45,600
Elkhart 40 $48,220
Goshen 40 $48,220
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 240 $57,160
Des Moines 240 $57,160
Cedar Rapids 110 $54,560
Cedar Falls 80 $60,110
Waterloo 80 $60,110
Iowa City 80 $62,160
Dubuque 60 $54,360
Ames 40 $53,300
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 350 $54,000
Topeka 70 $61,530
Manhattan 50 $49,240
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 480 $54,850
Lexington 480 $54,850
Owensboro 40 $58,620
Bowling Green N/A $55,910
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 880 $52,210
Metairie 880 $52,210
Shreveport 400 $48,450
Bossier City 400 $48,450
Baton Rouge 390 $47,820
Lafayette 180 $41,850
Alexandria 160 $53,150
Lake Charles 120 $45,070
Houma 80 $52,180
Thibodaux 80 $52,180
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Portland 290 $55,510
South Portland 290 $55,510
Bangor 140 $54,030
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 2560 $55,380
Columbia 2560 $55,380
Baltimore 2560 $55,380
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Leominster 70 $70,690
Gardner 70 $70,690
Barnstable Town N/A $70,390
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 2760 $58,100
Detroit 2760 $58,100
Dearborn 2760 $58,100
Wyoming 670 $57,550
Grand Rapids 670 $57,550
Portage 220 $64,180
Kalamazoo 220 $64,180
Flint 220 $66,200
Muskegon N/A $55,280
Saginaw N/A $56,470
Benton Harbor N/A $57,250
Niles N/A $57,250
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 120 $69,390
North Mankato N/A $62,450
Mankato N/A $62,450
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 570 $58,080
Gulfport 210 $55,680
Pascagoula 210 $55,680
Biloxi 210 $55,680
Hattiesburg 70 $47,540
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 320 $52,720
Jefferson City 100 $42,020
Joplin 80 $56,340
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 100 $63,780
Great Falls 70 $60,480
Missoula 60 $59,020
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 180 $54,540
Grand Island 60 $53,810
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 820 $68,150
Henderson 820 $68,150
Las Vegas 820 $68,150
Reno 140 $71,060
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 120 $70,120
Hammonton 90 $68,670
Atlantic City 90 $68,670
Bridgeton 60 $65,840
Vineland 60 $65,840
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 810 $46,860
Las Cruces 70 $38,320
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 810 $57,540
Albany 610 $59,010
Troy 610 $59,010
Schenectady 610 $59,010
Syracuse 450 $55,640
Niagara Falls 360 $57,630
Cheektowaga 360 $57,630
Buffalo 360 $57,630
Rome 130 $63,110
Utica 130 $63,110
Ithaca 50 $58,650
Fort Drum 40 $59,700
Watertown 40 $59,700
Binghamton N/A $61,350
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Durham 1130 $57,450
Chapel Hill 1130 $57,450
Burlington 740 $61,580
Raleigh 530 $54,720
Winston 320 $55,590
Salem 320 $55,590
Greensboro 300 $58,050
High Point 300 $58,050
Asheville 260 $53,710
Greenville 150 $55,280
Wilmington 120 $55,700
Morganton 110 $54,750
Hickory 110 $54,750
Lenoir 110 $54,750
Fayetteville 100 $56,060
Rocky Mount 30 $53,750
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 120 $56,470
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 1380 $57,110
Dayton 590 $60,370
Toledo 330 $63,320
Akron 280 $57,900
Massillon 140 $56,760
Canton 140 $56,760
Cleveland N/A $58,320
Elyria N/A $58,320
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 1010 $58,280
Tulsa 510 $53,160
Lawton 60 $55,020
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 170 $68,320
Salem 140 $70,710
Redmond 90 $67,770
Bend 90 $67,770
Corvallis 60 $63,530
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 1710 $55,120
Harrisburg 350 $61,740
Carlisle 350 $61,740
Wilkes 300 $53,490
Barre 300 $53,490
Hazleton 300 $53,490
Scranton 300 $53,490
Erie 180 $51,390
York 130 $61,430
Hanover 130 $61,430
Altoona 90 $58,080
Williamsport 80 $56,970
East Stroudsburg 70 $54,390
Lancaster N/A $57,960
Lebanon N/A $58,330
Gettysburg N/A $60,020
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carolina 1890 $32,640
Caguas 1890 $32,640
San Juan 1890 $32,640
Ponce 330 $26,150
Mayag�ez 140 $24,650
Arecibo 120 $30,250
Isabela 100 $25,770
Aguadilla 100 $25,770
San Germ�n 70 $24,440
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mauldin 840 $54,640
Anderson 840 $54,640
Greenville 840 $54,640
Columbia 540 $45,600
North Charleston 420 $54,730
Charleston 420 $54,730
Spartanburg 180 $42,470
Florence 140 $52,140
Sumter N/A $29,010
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rapid City 110 $54,820
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Murfreesboro 1250 $59,690
Franklin 1250 $59,690
Davidson 1250 $59,690
Nashville 1250 $59,690
Knoxville 620 $54,520
Jackson 130 $51,500
Johnson City 100 $56,460
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 3680 $61,030
Dallas 3680 $61,030
Arlington 3680 $61,030
Sugar Land 3330 $61,120
The Woodlands 3330 $61,120
Houston 3330 $61,120
San Antonio 1430 $54,850
New Braunfels 1430 $54,850
Round Rock 800 $52,640
Austin 800 $52,640
El Paso 360 $54,100
Killeen 320 $57,550
Temple 320 $57,550
Edinburg 270 $51,630
Mission 270 $51,630
McAllen 270 $51,630
Lubbock 160 $57,010
Corpus Christi 150 $56,000
Amarillo 140 $57,620
College Station 130 $55,390
Bryan 130 $55,390
Port Arthur 120 $59,010
Beaumont 120 $59,010
Tyler 100 $54,970
Brownsville 80 $53,750
Harlingen 80 $53,750
Longview 80 $56,270
San Angelo 70 $59,870
Victoria 60 $47,760
Abilene 40 $52,480
Laredo 40 $56,540
Midland 40 $56,790
Wichita Falls N/A $56,140
Waco N/A $61,210
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 1780 $50,450
Clearfield 200 $45,060
Ogden 200 $45,060
Provo 140 $54,450
Orem 140 $54,450
St. George 80 $66,990
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 770 $59,380
Charlottesville 180 $58,780
Roanoke 160 $43,340
Lynchburg N/A $51,940
Harrisonburg N/A $55,110
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 2010 $68,230
Seattle 2010 $68,230
Tacoma 2010 $68,230
Spokane Valley 640 $68,030
Spokane 640 $68,030
Kennewick 110 $66,850
Richland 110 $66,850
Yakima 90 $64,850
Tumwater 80 $71,320
Olympia 80 $71,320
Wenatchee 50 $70,630
Walla Walla 40 $67,520
Bellingham N/A $65,150
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Beckley 70 $54,690
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 1510 $56,770
West Allis 1510 $56,770
Milwaukee 1510 $56,770
Madison 430 $60,770
Green Bay 170 $49,630
Wausau 100 $55,880
Oshkosh 90 $61,160
Neenah 90 $61,160
Appleton 70 $59,920
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cheyenne 70 $63,890

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Medical Lab Technologists

To find out more about building a career as Medical Lab Technologists, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Medical Lab Technologists

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Hospital 102,390 61% $54,250
Medical Office 43,900 26% $51,670
Government 7,470 4% $58,080
Education 6,900 4% $48,080
Professional And Technical Services 2,950 1% $51,920
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles). Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
 
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Medical Lab Technologists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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