Laboratory technicians gather, examine, and test body fluids, tissue samples, and other substances. They study the composition and content of urine, blood, and other fluids; stain and study cell tissue; find disease-carrying organisms and damage cells; and documenting test results. They also manage the records of lab tests and prepare the laboratory and lab equipment before conducting tests.
Laboratory technician duties and responsibilities
To become a laboratory technician, laboratory technicians need a certificate or an associate’s degree in medical laboratory technology. Associate’s degree programs usually include science courses, clinical instruction, and liberal arts studies. They may discuss topics such as laboratory procedures, biology, and hematology. When the students go on clinical rotations, they will engage in practical experience and work under the supervision of certified laboratory personnel. Those who already have a related medical degree can opt for the one-year certificate programs, usually offered by vocational schools or hospitals.
In the US, many employers prefer laboratory technicians with a certification from professional associations such as the American Medical Technologists (AMT), the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification (ASCP), or the American Association of Bioanalysts Board of Registry (AAB).
The ASCP even offers two types of designations to lab technicians – Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) and the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS). To get either of these certifications, candidates should provide proof of meeting educational requirements and get a passing score on the ASCP exam. The certification should be renewed every five years.
The ASCP certification gives lab technicians the opportunity to connect to a network of laboratory clinicians in the field. It also provides them continuing education courses, newsletters, and annual workshops, helping clients with industry standards and regulations. ASCP certified laboratory technicians also enjoy a higher pay.
Laboratory technician certification and degree
The AMT offers the Medical Lab Technician (MLT) and Medical Lab Technologists (MT) certifications, given only to those who pass the AMT exam. Their certification allows laboratory technicians to use career placement databases, educational workshops, and continuing education programs.
The AAB offers Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) and Medical Technologist (MT) certifications. The association offers MLT certification in Chemistry, Microbiology, Hematology, Immunology, Molecular Diagnostics, and Immunohematology. Their MT certification is available in Hematology, Chemistry, Immunology, Andrology, Molecular Diagnostics, Microbiology, Immunohematology, and Embryology.
To get an AAB certification, candidates have to submit a college transcript and pass the certification exam. Certified AAB lab technicians can connect to other AAB members and see what the job board is like.
There are also online degree programs for aspiring laboratory technicians. They are offered by junior colleges, community colleges, vocational schools, hospitals, and the military. Classes may be held online, on-campus or a hybrid of both.
With online education, students can go through the materials at their own pace, while interacting with their professors and classmates online. They can also enjoy the convenience of taking their online classes in their own home, saving them from having to drive to the classroom. They also save time and fuel in the process.