The Scoop on Clinical Laboratory Technologists

Clinical Laboratory Technologists play a very important role in the function of doctors who are diagnosing diseases and managing patient care.

A Clinical Laboratory Technologist works in the cramped corners or a hospital or Doctor's office where they perform all the tests that the Doctor calls for. (Just imagine the doctors on ER asking some test you can't even pronounce "stat". The Clinical Laboratory Technologist is the person who gets the test done..."stat".) With the field expected to grow faster than the national average (we'll need more tests done as the population grows) then this field is a great place to make a career or get your foot in the Medical community's door.

What in the World Does a Clinical Lab Technologist Do Anyways?

A Clinical Lab Technologist does really complex laboratory tests at Doctor's orders. The tests range from biological, to chemical, to microscopic, to immunological. Any kind of test you can imagine...that's the kind of test you would do in this job. Depending on where you work you may do one kind of test more than another and you may also be tasked with collecting samples for your tests. (If you're squeamish about blood you might want to stay away or make sure you get a job where you're never sticking people.)

The job can intense because you work in your laboratory (which must be sterile) and you don't have many chances to get out. Also, the tests themselves many times require fine motor skills and a constant watchful eye. The job can become stressful when you have a lot of different (and very complicated) things going on at once.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

In order to get into Clinical Lab Technology you will need a little training. Most employers are looking for a Technologist who majored in a science in college (biology or chemistry) or someone who has been able to get a Degree in Medical Technology. Sometimes, however, you may be able to qualify for a job if you have some sort of science education and you can complete an on-the-job training program that is usually offered by a hospital or large health clinic. If you were doing very complex tests you would definitely be required to have a full Associate's or Bachelor's Degree whereas on-the-job training might be for less complex tests that require a little less formal education. The bottom line: You have a couple avenues to get training in this field, but the training you choose highly impacts the kinds of jobs you can gets.

Once you get trained your State may require you to get a license in Medical Technology. This usually means you have to pass a written test and a "skills" exam of sorts before you can be awarded your license. Typically, when a State wants you to be licensed they also require that you have a Degree.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

After you get your Degree (and in some cases your license) you can get work at a hospital or medical clinic. Most jobs in Hospitals and Health Clinics are not highly specialized and you will required to do every test under the sun. If you wanted to get into a specific type of testing then you will want to get a job at a Laboratory or Testing Center. Sometimes these jobs are in research and in other cases these jobs are for testing on a large scale but in a specific area.

As a Lab Technologist you can advance your career quite quickly by getting into management or supervision. Usually it is helpful to get an advanced degree in Medical Technology and with that you can become "Director of Medical Technology" or a testing Supervisor. If you wanted to get into research certain laboratories would require that you have a Master's Degree or Doctorate in Medical Technology.

If you wanted to move farther in the profession you could teach Medical Technology at a college or university or you could instruct on-the-job training programs at a hospital or health clinic. Either way, you don't JUST have to run blood tests your whole life if you don't want to.

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Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists Overview

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologist Salary:$53,500
Job Prospects:A+
Education after high school:4 years
# Employed in US:166,510
% Who work Part Time:18%
Physical Difficulty:+ + +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ +
Emotional Difficulty:+

The Pros of being a Clinical Laboratory Technologist

  • You have many routes to get your training
  • You can work in a specialized or generalized setting
  • You can advance quickly with an advanced degree

The Cons of being a Clinical Laboratory Technologist

  • You might work in a dark and dreary lab
  • It might be hard to get when you're testing in a sterile lab all day
  • It may be emotionally difficult to see results of test that will be hurtful to the patient