Medical Laboratory Technicians
Medical Laboratory Technicians work under the direction of a Medical Technologist in laboratories performing tests on samples of bodily fluids to help doctors diagnose diseases. To have a health care career as a Medical Laboratory Technician, you must be a problem-solver who is fascinated by all that science has to offer.
Description of health care career information and the daily work:
Being a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT), you have the best of both worlds – science and medicine. It also means you have the challenges of those fields. The MLT performs general tests in all laboratory areas – blood banking, chemistry, hematology, immunology and microbiology. To perform this work, MLTs use laboratory instruments ranging from microscopes and computers to automatic analyzers.
Supervised by a Medical Technologist, the MLT looks for data to understand the absence, presence, extent, and causes of diseases. A MLT’s typical duties may include collecting blood specimens, preparing chemical solutions, preparing and analyzing specimens, trouble-shooting instrumentation, keeping records of laboratory tests, and reporting the results. Like Medical Technologists, they may work in several areas of the clinical laboratory or specialize in just one. Histology technicians cut and stain tissue specimens for microscopic examination by pathologists, and phlebotomists collect blood samples.
While MLT’s are employed in a variety of settings, most work in hospital laboratories. Other settings include private physicians’ offices, public health laboratories, medical research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, universities, and industrial medical laboratories. The type of setting influences the hours you work. Large hospitals or laboratories may need staff to work the day and night shift, as well as weekends and holidays. In smaller facilities, you may work on rotating shifts instead of on a regular shift. Or you may be on call for weekends or nights.
Accuracy and reliability are characteristics shared by MLTs. They also need to work well under pressure, and enjoy challenge and responsibility.
Education Requirements, Licensure/Certification:
High school students can prepare for a career as a MLT by studying biology, chemistry, mathematics and related courses. Students are required to have an associate’s degree, or a certificate from a hospital or technical school. You will need a combination of formal education plus clinical education in a medical laboratory technician program accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).
Certification, although voluntary, is often expected for most jobs and is usually necessary for advancement. The Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology gives a national certification exam. Students can take this exam after meeting their academic and laboratory education requirements. Those who pass the exam for Medical Laboratory Technician can use the initials, MLT (ASCP), after their name as an indication of proficiency.
Nationally, the average salary for a Medical Laboratory Technician is $30,260.
Career Path and/or Opportunities for Growth:
The most typical advancement is to a Medical Technologist. A MLT who earns a BS degree and either has two years of experience or attends a NACLS accredited medical technologist program, can become a medical technologist.
Employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations as the volume of laboratory tests increases with population growth and the development of new types of tests.
American Medical Technologists
American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
American Society for Clinical Pathology
National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences