Medical Technician Overview: Programs, Degrees and Careers

Learn about medical technician programs, degrees, salaries and career outlook information.
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Medical Technician Career Facts

Introduction

Many of us have gone to the doctor for a regular checkup.

Blood pressure. Check. Heartbeat. Check. Pulse. Check. Ears, nose, throat. Check, check and check.

Then finally a nurse draws blood into a clear vial, labels, then packages to send to a lab.

On the receiving end of the vial of blood is a medical technologist and their team of medical technicians who perform work under the supervision of a technologist.

They will process the blood plasma and provide the doctor an analysis of the results which is critical to the diagnosis of the patient.

The lab work is one of the many different jobs that a person with a Medical Technology degree could perform depending on what specialty they choose to follow.

Global wellness is a $4 trillion industry and growing. The Bureau of Labor (BLS) predicts 35,100 new Medical technician jobs by 2028 growing at 11% making it a much faster than average growth market.

A Medical Technician requires a 2-year degree and Medical Technologist will need to earn a 4-year degree. According to the BLS, the average wage for a Medical and Clinical Lab technician is $43,590. A Medical and Clinical Lab Technologist is $52,330 annually.

The main function of Medical and Clinical laboratory technicians is to support a Medical Technologist in the collection of samples of body fluids, tissue, and other substances and perform analytical tests along with other office duties that support patient well-being.

Doctors make their decisions in part on the analysis of the Technologist making it critical that the analysis be accurate.

Medical Technician and Technologist Careers

Once you get your degree from an accredited university, what’s next?

Your associate degree has prepared you for many different Technician roles in the Healthcare industry at facilities such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, and long-term care facilities.

If you achieved a bachelor’s degree, a Technologist career awaits you with your acquired analytical and laboratory skills. Many companies also prefer job candidates to have certifications such as a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT).

The BLS reports that Hospital Medical technologists and technicians account for 48% of the Medical technician jobs but outside of the hospital there are a variety of work environments that employ technicians.

Medical and diagnostic laboratories, office of physicians, colleges, schools, and outpatient care centers account for the other 52% of careers. The technician takes direction from the technologist and performs a variety of duties that support the lab and analysis work of a technologist.

Some of the careers that a Medical Technologist and Technicians can choose are:

Medical Technician

  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) – trained to assist medical emergency patients and provide immediate treatment to patients. Ambulance crews are typically EMT trained.
  • Occupational Health Technician – treat patients in a business environment ranging from office injuries like repetitive strain to construction projects where manual labor injuries occur.
  • Mental Health Technician – help treat mentally ill patients, recovering drug and alcohol addiction and mental disorders like cognitive impairment.
  • Laboratory Equipment Technician – performs diagnostics in laboratory setting with equipment like dialysis machines, heart monitors, and x-ray.
  • Surgical Technician – usually works in hospital operating rooms and is involved in preparing patients for pre-operative procedures and surgeries.
  • Perinatal Health Technician – works to prepare delivery room for new moms and prepares in transporting patients from hospital room to operating room and records medical information.

Medical Technologist

  • Blood Bank or Immunohematology Technologist – Draws blood from patients or volunteers, classifies, and prepares to transfer blood for transfusions.
  • Clinical Chemistry Technologist – Analyzes the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluid specimens.
  • Cytotechnologists – Examines body cells under magnification to determine if abnormalities exist that could be cancerous.
  • Immunology Technologist – studies patient’s immune system and its response to foreign substances.
  • Microbiology Technologist – studies samples from patients to identify bacteria or other microorganisms.
  • Molecular Biology Technologist – Test patient cell samples and examines proteins and nuclei test at a molecular level.

Steps to Becoming a Medical Technician

The pay scale for Medical technician is higher than average in the healthcare industry and that means a degree is required. An associates degree is the minimum required by most employers. Potential employers look at many factors in the hiring process and here are steps to becoming a Medical technician:

  • Complete an Associate degree program for a Medical technician
  • Consider completing a bachelor’s degree program to become a Medical Technologist
  • Earn key industry certifications from associations like the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) certification exam
  • Gain additional experience by attending key conferences and joining industry organizations along with subscribing to medical and healthcare publications

Many potential employers and even some states require additional certifications for certain specialties. The American Medical Technologist (AMT) is the most common certifying board used. Some of the certifications a graduate can test for are:

  • Medical Assistant (RMA)
  • Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)
  • Medical Administrative Specialist (CMAS)
  • Dental Assistant (RDA)
  • Medical Technologist (MT)
  • Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)
  • Medical Laboratory Assistant (CMLA)
  • Molecular Diagnostics Technologist (MDT)
  • Certified Laboratory Consultant (CLC)
  • Allied Health Instructor (AHI)

Medical technician Education: Degrees and Programs

Colleges and University’s follow the degree programs set by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and for Clinical Science recognize Health curriculum from the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) which offer the following specialty designations upon school completion:

  • Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS)
  • Doctoral Clinical Laboratory Scientist (DCLS)
  • Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)
  • Cytogenetic Technologist (CG)
  • Diagnostic Molecular Scientist (DMS)
  • Histotechnician (HT)
  • Histotechnologist (HTL)
  • Pathologists’ Assistant (Path A)

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A typical school curriculum for an associate degree is 60 credit hours of school.

Tuition costs will vary at different universities depending on factors such as living in the college district or out, public or private school and how long it takes you to finish.

A sample state community college in the southern U.S. estimated that a credit hour was $67 if you lived within the community college district and $416 if you lived out of the state or country. One semester for tuition for an in district student would be $1,005 not including books, room and board, and other costs and total tuition would be $4,020 for 60 credit hours.

Although a bachelor’s degree at a state university would be 120 credit hours for a Medical Technologist, a typical Medical Clinical Technician Associates degree in the U.S. is 60 credit hour curriculum and would look similar to:

Year 1

Semester I

  • College Algebra – Prerequisite Semester
  • Composition I – Prerequisite Semester
  • Anatomy & Physiology I (Lecture) – Prerequisite Semester
  • Anatomy & Physiology I (Lab) – Prerequisite Semester
  • Learning Framework
  • General Chemistry I (Lecture)
  • General Chemistry I (Lab)
  • Immunology/Serology
  • Hematology I
  • Phlebotomy

Semester II

  • Coagulation
  • Hematology II
  • Immunohematology
  • Clinical Chemistry I
  • Microbiology for Non-Science Majors (Lecture)

Semester III

  • Urinalysis & Body Fluids
  • Clinical Chemistry I

Year 2

Semester I

  • Practicum (or Field Experience) – Clinical/Medical Laboratory Technician
  • Clinical Microbiology

Semester 2

  • Parasitology/Mycology
  • Practicum (or Field Experience)- Clinical/Medical Laboratory Technician
  • Humanities/Fine Arts Elective

Semester 3

  • Seminar in Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Advanced Topics in Medical Laboratory Technician/Assistant

Medical technician Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has detailed statistics on role which vary state by state but the median annual wage for Clinical Technologist and Technician is $52,330 per year with the lowest 10% earning $29,910 and the highest 10% earning $80,330.

Several factors determine the final salary or wage that a Medical technician will pay including specialization within a field, experience, and geography to name a few. The areas with a higher cost of living tend to pay above average.

Rhode Island, Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Oregon are the top five top paying states according to the BLS.

Quick Facts: Clinical Technologist and Technicians
2018 Median Pay

$52,330 per year

$25.16 per hour

Typical Entry-Level EducationBachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
On-the-job TrainingNone
Number of Jobs, 2018331,700
Job Outlook, 2018-2811% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2018-2835,100

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical technician Job Growth

The future is very bright for Medical technician job growth. According to BLS, they predict employment to grow 11% from now through 2028. This is a much faster than average growth occupation in the Allied Health industry in terms of jobs. The BLS predicts 35,100 Medical technician jobs will be added between 2018 and 2028.

Job growth for Medical technician professionals is growing as clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities continue to expand with a growing and aging population.

The need for Medical technician and manager is in every state but some areas have more need and are willing to pay more to start. California, Texas Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania are the top five states with the most jobs according to BLS.

Medical technician Job Duties

The medical profession is growing with hundreds of community hospitals and medical facilities being added every year. Medical technicians provide vital support to the operations of hospitals, clinics and other facilities. There are many different roles a technician performs.

A typical job description for a Medical Lab technician is:

Job duties:

  • Take direction from lead Technologist to perform tasks
  • Preparing cultures of tissue samples
  • Establishes and monitors programs that ensure data accuracy
  • Microscopically examines slides of bodily fluids
  • Chemically analyzes blood or urine for toxic components
  • Analyzes lab reports for accuracy
  • Operates and calibrates equipment
  • Delivers test results to physicians, researchers or patients
  • Collects and study’s blood samples to determine morphology

What personality traits are helpful?

Medical technicians play a critical role in assisting Doctors, Physicians, and Technologists in the care of patients. Here are some traits that can help you succeed:

  • Excellent communication and customer service skills
  • Able to listen and follow directions
  • Loves science
  • Loves to perform repetitive and routine functions
  • Skilled with your hands
  • Work on your feet for long periods of time
  • Detail oriented
  • Dependable
  • Strong ethics and good moral compass

If you love the challenges and are passionate about health and have a passion to help people in need, the Medical technician role maybe the fulfilling career for you. Click the blue button that says “Find Schools” to see colleges and universities that may fit your needs.

Medical Technician Programs Degrees Salaries and Jobs

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