Medical lab technician helps to diagnose, treat and prevent disease through clinical laboratory studies. It complements medical science. It includes analysis of body substances such as fluid, tissues and blood. It also covers microorganism screening, chemical analysis and cell count.
These professionals, medical technicians and technologists, play an important role in collecting information, sampling, testing, reporting and documenting medical investigations.
A career in clinical laboratories involves managing and providing diagnostic services for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases. Clinical trial results and accurate results can provide clinicians with the data needed for therapeutic guidance.
It is estimated that 70 percent of a doctor’s medical decisions about any patient are a direct result of laboratory tests. In addition to providing the results of clinical trials, laboratory scientists can also offer health informatics and other data that support the research and development of biotechnology.
Medical laboratory science covers two different career paths: (1) medical laboratory scientists (MLS) and (2) medical laboratory technicians (MLT or MT). There are several specialties in the MLS and MT groups (eg microbiologist, histologist). Although both MLS and MT conduct tests for clinicians, hospitals, and health services, laboratory scientists are more qualified and perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians.
Lab Technician Job description
As a laboratory technician, your main responsibilities will include testing for disease. These tests are performed on body fluids and tissue cells of patients. Using scientific approaches, the laboratory is able to identify any deviations.
Laboratories play a useful and supportive role for physicians seeking to understand the current and current conditions of their patients. The work performed by a medical laboratory assistant can directly lead to a doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat a number of different conditions.
The technicians and technologies of medical laboratories rely on several important skills to perform their work. They must have strong experience in technology, especially computerized laboratory equipment. They also need to have a detailed worldview to effectively conduct tests and collect results.
Most medical laboratory technicians and technologists work in hospitals, medical or diagnostic laboratories or doctor’s offices. Further specialization can be obtained as a laboratory technician in the field of microbiology, immunology and human chemistry.
In both generalized and specialized work, the laboratory technician plays a vital role in helping physicians diagnose serious illnesses so that they can determine the right treatment for their patients as quickly as possible. Laboratory technicians also play an important role in preventing and managing conditions through early detection.
Required Skills for a Lab Technician
A medical laboratory scientist must possess certain key properties to succeed in this field. The Mayo Clinic notes the following important personal qualities that a novice scientist in a medical laboratory should possess:
- Aptitude for basic sciences, laboratory instruments and computers: A medical scientist-laboratory will use a variety of devices and computer technology and must use his knowledge of science to perform tests correctly.
- Ability to perform tasks carefully and quickly: tasks must be performed efficiently and correctly within a specified time frame.
- Ability to be thorough, accurate and self-sufficient: Medical laboratory scientists often have to work with little supervision and be careful and precise in their tasks to get accurate results.
- Emotional stability: Even though medical laboratory scientists deal with patients’ personal information, they must remain emotionally stable in the course of their work.
- Ability to think critically and solve problems: answers to urgent questions may not always be obvious; as such, the medical laboratory researcher should be able to analyze the problem and propose fact-based solutions.
- Ability to write well and communicate orally: Medical laboratory scientists may be required to write reports on their results and often pass information orally to physicians. Because of this, they must have excellent communication skills, both written and oral.
These are just a few useful skills that effective medical laboratory scientists have. Many others can be important depending on the purpose of the laboratory and the scope of responsibilities.
Qualification and training required to become a Lab Technician
Both university graduates and school graduates can become laboratory assistants. Graduates will require a degree in a relevant subject, such as biology, biochemistry, chemistry or physics. They usually start with a laboratory assistant and go on to the senior role of research and development work.
A school graduate can apply to study or participate at the elementary level. Typically, you will need a GCSE or standard grades, and you may need a Level A or Scottish high school, including a science subject. With experience, a graduate of the school could move to the position of head of the laboratory. However, to move on to a research role, you need to earn a degree.
What is Lab Technician Salary?
The work of a medical laboratory assistant and a technologist offers good salaries with high growth forecasts. The average salary of laboratory technicians and technologists was just over $ 50,000 per year in 2019. Most medical laboratory jobs require a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate certificate, while medical laboratory technologists usually require a bachelor’s degree.
The employment of medical and clinical laboratory technicians is expected to increase by 7% over the 10-year period from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the national average. The increase is mainly due to the increase in the number of elderly people and the need to perform tests such as prenatal screening for genetic diseases, which has only recently become commonplace.
Lab Technician Career prospects
Medical technology is an integral part of the medical profession. These specialists are involved in practical and technical work to help correctly diagnose and function biochemical laboratories effectively.
Career prospects in this field depend on the academic and technical skills of the technologist / technician. He / she initially joins any laboratory as a certified medical laboratory technician. Nowadays, with the growth of the private sector, there are so many private hospitals, nursing homes, blood banks, pathology laboratories and so on.
Demand for laboratory technicians is growing. With adequate knowledge and experience, medical laboratory technology can be transferred to management or leadership positions in laboratories and hospitals.
They can also work as a manager / consultant / laboratory manager, health care administrator, hospital coordinator, laboratory information system analyst, education consultant / coordinator, etc. Additional opportunities are available in the field of molecular diagnostics, molecular biotechnology companies and in vitro fertilization laboratories as well as in research laboratories.
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Lab Technician licensing and certification
In some states, medical laboratories must be licensed. The licensing process often involves meeting the minimum requirements for education and experience and passing an exam. Some states set certification as a licensing requirement only by issuing licenses to certified medical laboratories. The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences provides additional information on licensing requirements.
In addition to a professional license, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians can receive professional certification. Certification remains voluntary in most states, but helps professionals advance their careers and demonstrate their experience.
Medical laboratory technicians and technologists can conduct general or specialized certification in areas such as medical biology or cytotechnology. Candidates for certification usually need a medical laboratory certificate or a degree from an accredited program. Candidates must then pass an exam.
How To Become A Lab Technician
• Get an education
Although you can hurry, you will not be able to circumvent the requirements for the education of a medical laboratory assistant. Most likely, you will need a degree to get a job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) , you will be glad to hear that these programs usually last less than two years – the Rasmussen College program can be completed in just 21 months.2
MLT programs will include comprehensive courses to help students understand diagnostic testing, blood safety standards, and equipment and technology. Take a look at some of the courses included in the Rasmussen College program.
• Pass the ASCP certification exam
Upon completion of the accredited program, you must be eligible to take the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) exam for certification. Think of certification as your driver’s license. This is proof that you really know what you are doing. This proof of your competence in the field of medical laboratory only puts you one step closer to finding your first job.
Rasmussen College’s MLT program prepares graduates for the ASCP certification exam – the fee for the first attempt of each qualified student’s exam is even included in the cost of the program.3 It is true that not all employers require certification, but job prospects will be best for MLT candidates.
• Obtain licensing
The requirements of the medical laboratory assistant depend on the staff. The BLS states that in some areas, laboratory personnel may need to be licensed. To learn local requirements, contact the state Department of Health, the Professional Licensing Council, or visit the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Sciences (ASCLS) website for more information.
• Familiarize yourself with the required MLT skills
Before you start applying for a job with a health technician, it is helpful to know exactly what employers are looking for so that you can be prepared and take the best steps forward. Working in a medical laboratory requires a unique combination of hard and soft skills.
We used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 110,000 MLT jobs published in the past year. These data helped us identify the best hard and soft skills that employers are looking for in potential lab technicians.
• Get a Job
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), hospitals, medical laboratories and medical offices are the leading employment prospects. Outpatient health services and high schools also provide a small number of opportunities.
From 2018 to 2028, employment in laboratory jobs is projected to increase by 11%, which is faster than the average, and which indicates employment prospects. The average annual salary for laboratory assistants and laboratory technologists was $ 52,330 as of May 2018.
In some states, you need a license to work as a laboratory assistant. Licensing usually involves passing an exam and obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
• Develop your career
After earning a bachelor’s degree and further experience, you can become a laboratory technician and then potentially a laboratory manager or manager. A postgraduate certificate or graduate degree in relevant subjects, such as management, life sciences, or medical technology, can improve your chances of promotion.
You can also go to a marketing or product development position at a lab equipment manufacturer. A doctorate will allow you to become a laboratory director.