We have all been sick at least once in our lives.
This also means that we’ve taken a few trips to the doctor’s office in our lives, described our symptoms several times in our lives, and have been diagnosed with something at least once in our lives.
But, what happens before we get diagnosed with something? Who remembers all of our symptoms, and how do doctors make these diagnoses?
While the average person might think that all of this is the doctor’s job only, that is far from the truth. In fact, a medical laboratory technician might even play a bigger role than the doctor himself when it comes to diagnosing a patient and treating diseases.
Most people probably haven’t heard of the term “medical laboratory technician” before, or it might not be the first word that comes into their mind when they think of the medical field, but these healthcare professionals play such a huge role in the entire field.
So, if you are considering going to school to become a medical laboratory technician, then it is a thought worth holding onto and considering, because by doing so, you could contribute more than you know to the medical world.
But, what exactly is a medical laboratory technician and what are some of their basic responsibilities? And what are some of the best online classes and training that you can start receiving in order to make your way to becoming one of these super important medical professionals?
I will be answering all of these questions and more in this guide to the medical laboratory technician career, as well as the online classes and training you can receive.
What is a Medical Laboratory Technician?
Before we go any further, it is important to answer this very important question: what exactly is a medical laboratory technician, and what are some of their basic and everyday responsibilities?
As a medical laboratory technician, your job would be to help the patient’s doctor come up with a diagnosis as well as the treatment for whatever condition he or she is in, based on the symptoms that they have shown and tests that have been given to the patient.
Medical laboratory technicians also work under a supervisor, who is known as a medical technologist, or who is a physician.
Some of their basic and everyday responsibilities include preparing samples of test results and other data for analysis, locating microorganisms with special equipment, analyzing certain fluids’ chemical contents, monitoring tests and procedures, testing for drug levels in the patient’s blood, and finally, matching fluids for transfusions.
As a medical laboratory technician, you have the opportunity to work in a variety of places and settings, as well. These settings include hospitals, private laboratories, clinics, research and development departments, pharmaceutical companies, and public health organizations.
Plus, the education required to become a medical laboratory technician isn’t much at all. In fact, all you need to become one is either an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate.
Medical Laboratory Technician Salary Range
Another very important thing to look at when considering going into a certain job, field, career, or the like is of course, how much it pays.
Most of the time, when people think “doctors” or “medical professionals,” they think of people who have jobs that pay extremely well. However, what they don’t know is that there are definitely some positions in the medical field that are far from satisfactory when it comes to the salary range.
While becoming a medical laboratory technician can be very cheap, considering the fact that you only need an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate, the salary is definitely not the most attractive.
According to PayScale.com, the median salary for a medical laboratory technician is a simple $39,624 per year.
The lowest that a medical laboratory technician can make is $28,933, and the highest that one can make is a huge difference: $64,230. However, there are only a few rare cases who make that much as a medical laboratory technician.
However, there are definitely several options when it comes to advancing your career, which can ultimately lead to a higher pay in salary.
Advancing Your Career as a Medical Laboratory Technician
Even though the salary of a general medical laboratory technician can be extremely low, it definitely doesn’t mean that you can’t advance in your career.
If you are looking to take your medical lab skills to the next level, and to step up a position in the medical field, then there are multiple ways you can do that while having a medical laboratory technician certificate or associate’s degree.
The best way to do this is to become a medical technologist, which is the supervisor position we briefly touched on a bit earlier.
As a medical technologist, you get to specialize and focus on new areas of the field while advancing your career. These subject areas include blood bank technology, clinical chemistry technology, becoming a cytotechnologist, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, phlebotomy, and histotechnology.
While the certification requirements differ from state to state, having certification puts you above the rest as well as shows your dedication, experience, and skill to employers. Some states require you to have a certificate in order to become licensed, and even if your state doesn’t require it, some individual employers might still.
If you plan on getting your certification, then you can take it through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) or the American Medical Technologists.
Taking Online Classes and Training
Instead of taking the classes and training that you need in a physical location, at certain times, and in certain places, such as a university, college, or community college, you also have the luxury of being able to choose to take these same courses online.
Nowadays, there are so many colleges and universities who offer their classes and programs online, which can make it extremely easy to find one to complete from the comfort of your own home.
There are university websites such as UltimateMedical.edu that offer these programs for various positions in the medical field, which you can complete online.
However, when looking for an online program for going through your basic training and finally, receiving your certification (or associate’s degree), then it is important to keep a few things in mind.
First of all, make sure that it is a school or program that has received accreditation from one of the United States’ healthcare organizations and foundations. If your course doesn’t have accreditation, then problems might occur when you take the exam to get your certification, and all of those hours you have put in trying to finally complete the program would have gone to complete and utter waste.
However, another very important thing to note is that many online courses do require clinic and lab days, where you are required to be on campus to put into practice all of the skills that you have learned.
I am sure that there are several out there that do not incorporate on campus lab days, but be prepared to find a school close to you just in case the program does require it.
Who Can be a Medical Laboratory Technician?
Not every job is right for every person. There are simply jobs and positions that fit certain people better than others.
So, how exactly can you tell if the title of Medical Laboratory Technician is the right one for you?
Just like with any other job and position, and in any field, being a Medical Laboratory Technician requires certain personality traits, characteristics, skills, and interests in order to make you good at what you do.
First of all, if you want to become a Medical Laboratory Technician, then you have got to have an interest in science (and be somewhat good at it, too). It is obvious that nearly every position in the medical field requires you to know and practice some sort of science. However, working in a lab, giving out tests to patients, and analyzing and interpreting medical and chemical data is extreme science.
This kind of job combines the use of chemistry, biology, molecular biology, and so much more, especially beyond the science classes you’ve ever taken in high school. And you can expect all of the training programs to put a strong emphasis on the subject areas as well.
Secondly, in order to be a good Medical Laboratory Technician, you have got to be okay with and accept the fact that you will be doing most of your work behind the scenes.
We’ve already talked about how underrated this position of medical professional is, and if you think you have what it takes to be one of them, then you must be okay with that fact.
Many patients don’t even know what’s going on behind the scenes with their test samples, medical history, and other data, but the medical laboratory technician does.
Becoming a Medical Laboratory Technician is a Decision Worth Consideration.
Even though this job may be performed mostly behind the scenes, it is still a very important one, and medical laboratory technicians are vital to the entire medical and healthcare system.
So, if you are considering becoming one of these important roles, then I highly encourage you to continue giving it consideration.
While it might not pay very well at first, it is very simple to earn your certification, and very easy to advance the career to increase that paycheck.