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Medical And Clinical Laboratory Technicians And Technologists Career

Career Description

A Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician performs routine medical laboratory tests for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. They may work under the supervision of a medical technologist.

Common Work Tasks

  • Examine and analyze body fluids, and cells
  • Look for bacteria, parasites, and other microorganisms; analyze the chemical content of fluids; match blood for transfusions; and test for drug levels in the blood that show how a patient is responding to treatment
  • Prepare specimens for examination, count cells,  and look for abnormal cells in blood and body fluids
  • Use microscopes, cell counters, and other sophisticated laboratory equipment, as well as automated equipment and computerized instruments capable of performing a number of tests simultaneously.
  • Make cultures of body fluid and tissue samples,  to determine the presence of bacteria, fungi, parasites, or other microorganisms
  • Analyze samples for chemical content or a chemical reaction and determine concentrations of compounds such as blood glucose and cholesterol levels
  • Evaluate test results, develop and modify procedures, and establish and monitor programs, to ensure the accuracy of tests
  • Cut and stain tissue specimens for microscopic examination by pathologists
  • Analyze the results and relay them to physicians
  • Collect, type, and prepare blood and its components for transfusions

Other Job Titles

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Immunohematology Technologists
  • Cytotechnologists
  • Phlebotomists
  • Histotechnicians

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
Clinical laboratory technologist generally require a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or in one of the life sciences; clinical laboratory technicians usually need an associate degree or a certificate.

Certification and Licensure
     
Some States require laboratory personnel to be licensed or registered. Licensure of technologists often requires a bachelor’s degree and the passing of an exam,  but requirements vary by State and specialty. Information on licensure is available from State departments of health or boards of occupational licensing.

Experience
  Employers seek clinical laboratory personnel with good analytical judgment and the ability to work under pressure. Technologists in particular are expected to be good at problem solving. Close attention to detail is also essential for laboratory personnel because small differences or changes in test substances or numerical readouts can be crucial to a diagnosis. Manual dexterity and normal color vision are highly desirable, and with the widespread use of automated laboratory equipment, computer skills are important.

Salary

The median annual salary for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists is $51,000.  The top 10 percent earn more than $72,000,  and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $35,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of medical and clinical laboratory technicians and technologists are:

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals - $53,060
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories - $53,280
  • Offices of Physicians - $48,710
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools  - $47,720
  • Federal Executive Branch - $58,100

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  14%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 43,000
  • Employment 2006 : 319,000
  • Employment 2016:  362,000
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