Years of School
There are many career paths in the healthcare industry.
While everyone is familiar with doctors and nurses, there are far more health care professions in the industry.
With technological advances in healthcare, the path for different careers is wide open.
As these positions become available it’s important to look toward the future and see the many other opportunities that are opening up in the healthcare industry.
Also known as a Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS), Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS) or Medical Laboratory Technologist (MT), medical technologist are health professionals that analyze and test body fluids and tissues.
Technologists test body fluids such as blood, urine, CSF (Cerebrospinal fluid), and synovial fluid. Any tissue sample taken from a patient will be tested and analyzed by a medical technologist.
There are many responsibilities for medical technologists but the main responsibilities include:
- Operating and maintaining complex analyzers used in a laboratory
- Ensure the laboratory results of each patient is accurate and timely
- Assist doctors and nurses in choosing proper lab tests
- Ensure proper collection methods
- Must also supervise medical technicians within the laboratory.
Working as a Medical Technologist
Medical technologists often work in clinical laboratories at hospitals, reference labs, as well as biotechnology labs and non-clinical industrial labs.
However, medical technologists often find work outside of the medical laboratory.
Organizations and industries such as the FDA, USDA, as well as non-medical laboratories, and manufacturing employ medical technologists and scientists.
While they perform a full range of laboratory tests from prenatal blood tests, to HIV/AIDS diagnosis, diabetes, and cancer, medical technologists are also responsible for the instruments within a laboratory.
Thus a medical technologist must also have critical analytic skills to maintain order and efficiency within the laboratory.
Medical technologists must be able to recognize anomalies in test results and find a way to correct problems with the instruments used.
They must be able to recognize factors that could introduce error and reject contaminated or sub-standard specimens.
The typical salary for a medical technologist working in a laboratory setting is slightly above $56,000 per year.
However, the highest 10% earners could possibly earn $81,341.
Working for the government pays better, with the median salary being $71,850 while the median for all medical technologists is $66,513.
Those working for private practices typically earn the least at $58,250 typically earned.
Average Annual Salary by State
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Most medical technologists are skilled in all areas of the clinical laboratory, these are called generalists.
Others may specialize based on undergraduate education or additional training that qualifies them to perform more complex analyses and tests.
- Clinical biochemistry
- Immunohematology (blood banks)
- IVF labs
Specializing in the medical technologist field usually requires additional training in a particular area.
Many medical technologists often specialize in an area as they move further into their career.
How to Become a Medical Technologist
Medical technologists perform more complex tests and deliver complex analysis to better help treat patients.
Thus becoming a medical technologist requires far more training and education than a medical technician.
Typically an undergraduate education in a science related field or medical laboratory science is required before embarking on the laboratory testing required to become a medical technologist.
The core curriculum in medical technology will comprise 20 credits in each of the following subjects: clinical chemistry, hematology, and clinical microbiology.
Students major in medical laboratory science, clinical laboratory science, medical technology, biomedical science or in a life/biological science.
Degree programs are set-up in different ways.
- 3 + 1 programs: enables the student to attend classroom courses for three years and complete a clinical rotation their final year of study.
- 2 + 2 programs: students have previously completed their lower division coursework and return to complete the final two years in a CLS program
- 4 + 1 programs: students who have already matriculated from an undergraduate program will return to complete a year of medical laboratory training. Training is completed at a clinical site instead of a college.
Clinical rotations involve students experiencing hands-on learning in each discipline of the laboratory.
They will also perform diagnostic testing under supervision.
Certification & Licensing
In the U.S. medical technologists are certified by a national board such as the American Society for Clinical Pathologists or the American Medical Technologists or the American Association of Bioanalysts or the National Medical Laboratory Science Council.
Prospective medical technologists must obtain certification from one of these boards to become employed.
All of the certifying boards have its own set of regulations and requirements about education and experience in the field.
12 states including Puerto Rico require medical technologists to be licensed statewide in addition to the national certification students must acquire.
The medical technologist is a profession in the healthcare industry that is quickly on the rise.
By most estimates employment opportunities for medical technologist is expected to increase 13% between the years 2016 and 2026.
This job offers the perks of helping people along with stability and longevity.
Thinking about becoming a medical technologist?
Here’s some information about the profession.