Are you interested in having some kind of job in the healthcare field? But you don’t want to be a doctor or a nurse? If so, you might want to consider becoming a medical lab technician. This line of work allows you to work in the medical field without all the demands of many other jobs. Of course, that’s not to say that becoming a medical lab technician is not without its challenges. Here, we’ll dive into what this profession is all about and how people become medical lab technicians.
What Does Medical Lab Technician Do?
First things first, you may be wondering what, exactly, medical lab technicians do. In this line of work, you’ll help a doctor or other healthcare professional perform and read medical tests to diagnose health conditions and diseases. Aside from that, you’ll also get samples ready to be analyzed, analyze fluids as necessary, prepare blood for transfusions, and test blood and other bodily fluids as required.
If you like working in labs and performing tests, then this job should be right up your alley. You may also enjoy the job if you prefer to work mostly independently. While you will likely have some contact with the supervising health care professionals and others in the lab. Most of your work will be done on your own.
Here's A Video of Skillful Jobs: Medical Lab Technician/Technologist
An Associate’s Degree Is All You Need
While you might think that becoming a medical lab technician would require years and years of schooling, that’s not the case. There are many associate’s degree programs that will prepare you for this line of work. Upon graduation, you’ll have everything that you need to work productively in the field. Most people can earn an associate’s degree program in two years or less. This is even possible if you work since many classes nowadays are offered online.
Choose An Accredited College
The key is just to make sure you choose an accredited college with a good program in medical lab technology. Also, ensuring the school can provide you with a solid education. Try and choose one that has good connections, such as for internships. Internships and clinical programs are where you can often make the kind of good connections that lead to a career. Or at least a real foot in the door of the industry. Thus, the better the opportunities your college offers, the better your chances of getting started off on the right foot.
Success Rate of Graduates
When researching programs, also ask about past graduates of the program and the success rate of it. Meaning how many graduates go on to work in the field. This will help you to determine, to some degree. How good the program is and how fully prepared its students are for work in the field. Of course, you could always be the exception. But you’ll probably have the best luck if you choose programs with long histories of success.
All this being said, you do not necessarily have to have an associate’s degree to become a medical lab technician. There are other options if you’re not up to two full years of school.
A Certification Program is a Step Toward Success
If you want to get out in the field more quickly. You could always skip the associate’s degree in favor of a certification program. There are certification programs specifically for this line of work. And they vary regarding how long they take to complete. However, these programs generally take less time than an associate’s degree. Plus, some of them even allow you to work at your own pace. The only downside to certification programs is that they are not a full degree. And many employers do prefer a degree as opposed to certification. That is unfortunate since you learn mostly the same thing in both types of schooling. However, there are some employers who are just fine with a certificate.
A Certificate Program is Good Than Associate's Degree
So you can go this route if you prefer and still find success. Plus, there are many situations in which a certificate makes more sense than an associate’s degree. If you already work for an employer in another capacity, for example. And they ask you to get certified for technician work, a certification program is perfect.
Certification programs are also good for people who already have degrees in a different field. There’s no sense going back for a whole other degree when you already have one and when you could simply get a certification. In the end, only you can decide whether or not certification is a right choice for you. If it is, you’ll likely benefit from a speeder education and pay a lot less in tuition fees.
What About Licensure?
Depending on where you live, you may be required to get a license to work as a medical lab technician. Make sure you know and carefully follow the requirements in your state to avoid disappointment or problems.
If you do need a license, there is usually testing involved. As well as having a certain number of experience hours logged, to obtain it. This can be done after you obtain either a degree or a certification.
Both types of programs should adequately prepare you for the licensure examination if there is one in your state.
You May Want to Consider Specialization
As they grow in experience in the field. Many people will eventually decide to become full-on medical technologists instead of just lab technicians. Often, this does involve more training and time. But the nice thing about is that you can specialize in a specific area of your choice.
Many people, for example, choose to specialize in blood back technology. Others decide to focus their efforts on immunology, molecular biology, or clinical chemistry technology. These are just a few of a great many possible specializations so. As you can see, once you get started down this career path, the possibilities are truly endless.
Thinking About Where You Want to Work
Whether you decide to advance and specialize or not. You will typically have a great deal of choice regarding where you work. And each workplace type has its pros and cons to consider. For example, some people like the hustle and bustle of a hospital. Others, however, find themselves feeling rushed and overwhelmed in that type of atmosphere. These types of people tend to do better in clinics and private labs. Which are generally a lot less busy and a lot less rushed than hospitals and other larger scale organizations.
There's A Lot of Choices Where You Work
Some people also like to feel more like they are giving back to their communities. And they choose to work for public health organizations. Some people would focus on the research side and may partner with colleges and universities or even with pharmaceutical company.
The great thing about all of this is that you have a lot of choices regarding where you work. With so many options to choose from. You can easily find a working environment that’s just right for you.
Plus, even better, if you happen to get bored and need a change of pace. Then you can always switch up where you work. The opportunity for newness and excitement is always present. Which is a great thing about this line of work.
How Much Can You Expect to Make?
Of course, as with any job, the big question on everyone’s mind is how much they can make in the career field. The possibilities here are endless. Especially for those willing to stay put with a company long-term and to further their education.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, on average, medical lab technicians make around $38,950 according to current data. That’s not a huge salary. But it’s enough to get started and turn it into more. And, you have that possibility with this line of work.
Do keep in mind, though, that where you work, where you live. Your training type and level, and your experience can all play a role in how much you earn. Some people will make well above the average while others will make well below it.
If You’re Ready to Get Started…
If based on this information, you feel ready to dive into a career as a medical lab technician. Your first step is to consider which educational option, as discussed above, that you wish to pursue. After that, you’ll need to look around at different programs. Using the criteria we’ve offered to help you pick a good one. Then, it’s as simple as applying, working hard, and getting the ball rolling on this great career option.