lab technicians and technologists are the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry. You'll be behind the scenes, generating
the critical data that physicians use to make their diagnoses. You'll perform tests or prepare tissue specimens for examination.
For example, phlebotomists are technicians who specialize in drawing blood. As a technician, you'll typically do less complex
tests and procedures than a technologist, who would supervise your work. You'll need much less schooling to be a technician,
Job growth is expected to be
faster than average, with the number of clinical lab workers rising about 16 percent between 2008 and 2018, adding about 25,000
jobs, according to the Labor Department. But you can count on even more opportunities thanks to retirements and turnover.
Expect the most rapid growth in private diagnostic labs, as well as in physicians' offices.
You might be paid hourly, but median
annual take-home pay was $36,030 in 2009. For those at the top of the pay bracket, salaries can be more than $55,210.
The natural next step is to
become a technologist. You'll most likely need additional education, as well as a license—a requirement in some states.
Some technologists also move up into laboratory management roles.
Moderate. You're on your feet
quite a bit, if not always moving.
Pretty low, though hefty patient loads and keeping up with technological and regulatory
issues can require some serious multi-tasking. You'll be working in a clean, well-lighted lab most of the time. Things could,
however, get a little dicey if you're an entry-level technician at a hospital: You can expect to work nights, weekends, or
Education and preparation:
The lower-cost education is a highlight of this occupation. For entry-level work,
you'll likely need to have an associate's degree or complete a certificate program. It's possible to learn some of your skills on the job.
Real advice from real people about landing a job as a medical laboratory
When you are preparing your application materials
for a medical laboratory technician (MLT) position, it's essential that
you communicate not only the technical skills you learned in the classroom and on the job, but also focus on the "soft"
skills. "Laboratory managers are looking for candidates with flexible schedules, who work well both in teams and independently
when needed, who communicate well with patients, physicians, and nursing staff, and who are dependable and accountable,"
says Tamryn Hennessy, national director of career
development at Rasmussen College. "The great news is that if you're new to the field, you can directly convey these important
skills with prior job experience through specific examples given during the interview, strong letters of reference, and recommendations
from past employers."