Medical laboratory technicians perform lab tests and other procedures, but under the supervision of experienced health professionals. Their main job may involve matching blood in preparation for transfusions, checking a patient’s blood for the presence of prescription drugs, and counting white blood cells. Most of these technicians earn a certificate or associate’s degree after taking programs that include lectures, labs, and hands-on experience. Graduates may get certified by professional organizations.
Medical Lab Technician Education
To become a medical laboratory technician, candidates need to complete a two-year associate’s degree. Those with experience or degrees in the healthcare field can complete a one-year certificate program. These programs usually cover science-oriented courses, with a focus on general laboratory knowledge. Medical laboratory technician programs are accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical laboratory technicians can apply for entry-level positions after earning an associate’s degree in clinical laboratory science. Certificate programs that last for a year are often offered by hospitals for individuals who already have a degree in a related medical field like nursing. Aspiring medical laboratory technicians may also choose to complete certificate programs in technical schools, vocational schools, or Armed Forces schools.
High school students who want to become medical laboratory technicians can take courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
Medical Lab Technician Training
Medical laboratory technicians can participate in hands-on training under the supervision of a senior medical laboratory technician or technologist. They should be trained by a medical professional. Their training could last for as long as the employer requires and based on the technician’s experience.
Medical Lab Technician Registration and Certification
In some states, medical laboratory staff must be licensed to work. To be licensed, medical laboratory technicians must obtain certification first. They could get a general certification, or a certification in an area they chose to specialize in, such as medical biology or cytotechnology.
Most organizations that offer certification to these technicians require candidates to complete an accredited education program before they can sit for an exam. The American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification, the American Association of Bionanalysts Board of Registry, and the American Medical Technologists can certify medical laboratory technicians.
When it comes to certifications though, the American Society of Clinical Pathology Board of Certification has categorized certifications into two – Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) and Medical Laboratory Technician.
Getting an ASCP certification successfully means getting access to a group of professional laboratory technicians. Members can keep up with the fast-changing industry, while sending newsletters, annual workshops or continuing education courses.
The American Medical Technologists allow its candidates to use the titles Medical Lab Technologist and Medical Lab Technician. All the requirements needed to earn this certification can be found on the AMT site.
Another certification that medical laboratory technicians can earn is that of a Medical Laboratory Technician, which can be obtained from the American Association of Bionalysts. They can offer certification in at least one of these disciplines – Hematology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Immunology, Immunohematology, and Molecular Diagnostics.
The credentialing organization also offers the title of Medical Technologist in these disciplines – Hematology, Chemistry, Andrology, Embryology, Microbiology, Immunology, Immunohematology, and Molecular Diagnostics.
Although techs are not obliged to get a certification, employers do favor those who are certified.