Medical technicians mainly perform tests on blood, tissue, and other body fluids to help doctors diagnose and treat patients. They are sometimes called as medical laboratory technicians or clinical laboratory technicians. They usually work with laboratory technologists and professionals to prepare, examine, and study specimens. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 50% of all medical lab technicians and technologists were working in hospitals in 2012. Others were employed in diagnostic laboratories or physicians’ offices. But before they become qualified to work, they have to comply with several education and training requirements first.
Medical technician education
To become a medical technician, one needs to at least earn an associate’s degree from an accredited university or college. There are even vocational schools and hospitals offering this program. Students have to make sure that their program is approved by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). These programs usually cover infection control and microbiology, medical terminology, serology, immunology, clinical hematology, and urinalysis. They also provide students with a hands-on experience by sending students to clinics, where they work under the supervision of experienced medical technicians.
Medical technician training
After graduating from school, aspiring medical technicians need to take continuing education courses and professional conferences to add to their knowledge and training. Some hospitals provide training programs for medical technicians.
Medical technician licensing and certification
Some states in the US accept only certified medical technicians to work. There are a lot of certifications available for these medical professionals. The NAACLS or the American Medical Technologists can provide the necessary information about these certifications. Certification must be renewed every three years.
To get a license, medical technicians must complete a minimum amount of education and pass the state examination. However, state licensure requirements vary from one state to the next.
Medical technician advancement
Medical technicians can pursue more certifications and training to specialize in their field. It could be in vascular ultrasound or testing skin samples to diagnose cancer. Getting a specialty will help the medical technicians look more attractive to employers and increase their salary.
Some medical technicians even work on becoming medical technologists by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or a related field. They also have the option to pursue a master’s degree or even a doctoral degree. Others even proceed to medical school, capitalizing on their experience in patient care or medical laboratories as a medical technician.
Medical technician schools
Those who want to become a medical technician have plenty of schools to choose from. In the US, the Community College of the Air Force, Miami Dade college, and City College of San Francisco are among the biggest schools offering medical technician programs. They may also choose to enroll in Houston Community College System, Northern Virginia Community College, or Lone Star College System, among others.