Medical Technologist & Technician
Years of School
4 & 2
Medical technologists and technicians collect samples from patients and perform tests on bodily fluids, cells, and substances.
Medical Technologist Salary
The national median annual salary for medical laboratory technologists was a little more than $56,000 when surveyed in 2010. The highest 10% earned over $76,780, while the lowest 10% earned just over $38,810.
Medical technologists working for the federal government have the highest median pay at $62,880, while those working in private physician offices earned the lowest median pay of $52,250. Median annual salary for medical laboratory technologists working in hospitals and laboratories is approximately $56,000.
Medical technologist can expect to work regular full time hours, although technologists and technicians who work in facilities with around-the-clock working hours – such as certain private laboratories and hospitals – often work weekend, evening, or overnight hours as well.
Medical Laboratory Technician Salary
The national median medical lab technician salary is $36.280. The medical technician salary of the highest 10% was slightly over $56,000, while the median salary of the lowest 10% was just over $24,000.
Like medical technologists, medical laboratory technicians employed by the federal government earned the most, with a median salary of $40,180, followed by those employed by hospitals at $37,130, and those working in private doctor’s offices at $35,790. Clinical laboratory technician salary for those working for medical and diagnostic laboratories was the lowest at just slightly over $34,000.
Medical Technologist & Technician Job Description
Medical technologists – often referred to as medical laboratory scientists – and medical technicians both work to collect samples from patients and run tests. These tests analyze tissue, bodily fluids, and other bodily substances for a wide variety of purposes.
Although they work in similar capacities, the medical technologist job description and the medical technician job description are not entirely the same. They have different job responsibilities – technologists will perform tests and procedures that are more complex. Technicians may independently run simpler tests and procedures, and are also responsible for assisting medical technologists and working under their supervision.
Medical Technologist Duties
- Supervise medical technicians
- Collect samples and analyze bodily fluids and substances for abnormalities
- Collect blood and study blood samples used in transfusions
- Operate laboratory equipment
- Perform automated tests using computerized instruments & automated equipment
- Perform manual tests based on detailed instructions from a physician
- Run tests and analyze the results to be reported to the patient, physician or registered nurse
- Log test data into a patient’s medical record
Medical Laboratory Technician Duties
- Assist medical technologists
- Perform basic tests and analysis as ordered by the physician, but under the supervision of a medical technologist.
Medical Technologist Specialties
Although in smaller labs technologists may perform a wide variety of tests, medical technologists employed in larger labs tend to specialize in a specific area of medical laboratory technology. Below are some of the more common medical technologist specialties:
- Immunohematology Technologists
- Immunology technologists
- Microbiology technologists
- Molecular biology technologists
How To Become A Medical Technologist or Medical Technician
While both medical technologists and technicians work in similar capacities within the healthcare industry (medical laboratory sciences), becoming a medical technologists requires a higher level of education. To become a medical technologist, one needs to have a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory technology or life sciences.
Medical technicians will need earn either an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. The degree should also be in science and lab-related programs. Some hospitals also offer a one-year program for this occupation.
Before entering into a university program, prospective students should have a background in biology, chemistry and math during high school. Some hospitals also offer a senior-year of college program to those interested in entering the field, but they have chosen to major in a different type of science.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers certifications for both of these occupations. A passing score on this exam will allow medical technologists to use the title of MT. Medical laboratory technicians will be able to use the title of MLT. The difference in formal education is what sets a medical technologist apart from a medical laboratory technician. The test will have 100 questions, and it costs $200.
Medical Technologist Education & Training Requirements
A bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory technology – also known as a medical laboratory scientist program – or life sciences is required for entry-level medical technologist positions. High school students entering a medical technologist program should have completed senior level courses in biology, chemistry, and math.
In addition to the traditional university pathway, medical technologist courses can be found in hospital-based programs that are attended by students during their senior year of college. This program is suitable for students who may have majored in other science program, or have obtained another science degree, but would like to become a medical technologist.
Below is a list of sample courses included in a medical technologist degree:
- Physiology I and II
- Anatomy I and II
- Microbiology (standard and clinical)
- Organic chemistry
Medical Technician Education & Training Requirements
In order to become a medical technician, prospective candidates must complete a 2 year associate’s degree program, which will include clinical laboratory science courses. Coursework for medical technicians will address both practical as well as theoretical aspects of the major laboratory disciplines. However, the medical technician course-load is not as in-depth or rigorous as those undertaken by medical technologists.
For prospective medical laboratory technicians who already possess a degree in a science or health-related field, 1 year certificate programs may be completed in place of an associate’s degree. These certificate programs can be found at hospitals and technical or vocational schools.
List of some Medical Technician Schools:
- Tarrant County College District
- Valencia Community College
- Salt Lake Community College
- College of Southern Nevada
- Portland Community College
- St. Petersburg Community College
Medical Technologist & Technician Certification & Licensing
Certain states require licensing for all medical laboratory personnel, while others do not. Because these requirements vary by state as well as specialty, details should be obtained through your local state board or department of health.
Although certification is not required in all states, some states do require certification for technologists and technicians. Additionally, employers in states that do not possess certification requirements may prefer to hire those with certification. This can be general medical technologist certification/medical technician certification, or it can be certification in a specific specialty e.g. Phlebotomy.
In order to obtain certification, technologists and technicians will generally be required to complete an accredited program, pass a certification exam, and take continuing education courses to maintain certified status.
A medical technologist can choose to receive certification from the ASCP. To achieve this certification, once must complete the 100 question, multiple-choice exam. The cost of the exam is $275. Anyone who holds a four-year degree in medical technology will be eligible to take this exam, or those who finish a senior-year program at a hospital will also be eligible. The exam has a 2.5 hour time limit. Medical laboratory technician certification can also be obtained through the ASCP.
Medical Technologist & Technician Job Outlook
The projected job outlook for medical laboratory technologists and technicians over the next decade is average. Job growth for technologists is projected at 11%, while employment for technicians is expected to grow by 15%, which both fall into the average growth range for all occupations of 10-19%.