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Medical Laboratory Technician Programs

Medical laboratory technicians play an important role in the field of medical science. Before doctors can treat patients and cure diseases, it is the job of medical laboratory technicians to evaluate and test specimens to diagnose the illness. As technology is advancing rapidly, automation and use of computer-aided diagnosis is revolutionizing the medical field. Laboratory technicians must be well-equipped with technical skills and knowledge necessary to operate lab equipment and conduct tests.

This career path can be a suitable choice for those interested in joining the fast-growing healthcare industry. These professionals work behind the scenes, having minimal contact with patients. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 325,800 employed medical laboratory technicians in 2012.

How to become a medical Laboratory Technician

To work as medical laboratory technician, you will need at least an associate degree or a certificate program in this field. There are many colleges offering medical laboratory technician degree programs and laboratory technician courses designed to prepare individuals for this career. A laboratory technician degree will focus upon the development of analytical skills, medical terminology, and practical knowledge. Make sure you select a college that is accredited and offers quality education services.

Associate Degree in Medical Laboratory Technology

This is an undergraduate degree program geared towards providing students with a thorough understanding of medical laboratory technology and practical experience. The program will focus upon all aspects of the field, covering life sciences, general education, and practical training necessary to develop skills.
Students will learn how technology is revolutionizing medical science and will gain an insight on latest technological trends of healthcare. The coursework will initially cover fundamental and general knowledge areas that will help students develop a strong basis of knowledge. Further in the program, students will focus upon laboratory technology and clinical experience. The curriculum of medical laboratory technician degree programs may vary from college to college.


  • Anatomy and physiology

In this course, students will learn about the basic structure and functioning of the human body. Students will cover topics such as physiology of cells, organs, and systems.

  • Introduction to medical laboratory technology

This is a fundamental course that introduces students to the basics of laboratory medicine, laboratory techniques, and procedures used within this field.

  • Medical microbiology

This is a course dedicated to the study of organisms and clinical microbiology. Students will learn how to apply sterilization and disinfection techniques.

  • Clinical chemistry

This course will help students gain an in-depth knowledge of chemicals found in body fluids. The topics typically covered in this course include testing techniques, excretional chemicals, and nutritional chemicals.

  • Clinical experience

Students will be required to participate in clinically based rotations that will help them gain hands on experience and develop technical skills.
These are just a few of the courses students are mostly likely to cover in a medical laboratory technology degree at associate level. It takes around two years to complete the program from schools. However, the program can also be completed in less than two years by opting for an accelerated track.

Laboratory Technician Certificate Program

This is a short career oriented course offered by many accredited colleges. The program is designed to provide students with practical skills and help prepare them for a career as a laboratory technician. The coursework of a certificate program can be divided into theory-based work and clinical experience.
Students will cover basic courses related to clinical behavioral sciences, laboratory technology, and health sciences. Here are some courses you may cover:

  • Preparatory biology

Students will examine the basics of anatomy and physiology, and will learn about the structure of human body systems (cell, tissue, organs).

  • Basics techniques in chemistry

In this course, students will learn how to apply basic techniques to collect, process, and examine specimens for chemical analysis.

  • Laboratory basics workshop

This is a practical course that will provide students with hands on experience and skill. Students will acquire familiarity with basic laboratory instruments and their uses.

  • Basic techniques in haematology

This course will teach students how to handle haematological specimens. Students will use various automated equipments for haematology procedures.

The duration of a certificate program could vary from place to place. It usually takes 6-8 months to complete this program.

Online Learning

You can now work towards a medical laboratory technician career online. All you have to do is enroll in an online program. Online learning is flexible and convenient, and can be tailored to meet your needs. Online courses for medical laboratory technician are covered via videos, online lectures, and classroom conferencing. However, since this field of study entails a lot of practical learning courses, you may have to attend a few classes on campus. It is best to check and see which schools are offering 100% online or hybrid programs. Distance learning courses are also much more cost-friendly as compared to campus based programs.

Admission Criteria

There are no strict admission requirements for medical laboratory programs. You will need a high school diploma and letters of recommendation. It may be helpful if you have satisfactory scores in science subjects. Remember that the admission requirements depend upon which school you want to enroll in.

Medical Laboratory Technician Certification

Some states may require medical laboratory technicians to be certified. There are two main organizations that offer certifications in this field:

  • The American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB)
  • The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP)

Individuals must meet the eligibility criteria to become certified. The criteria will vary and depend upon the certification you are aiming for. For example, if you want to apply for the Medical Laboratory Technician Certification offered by The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), you will need to have an associate degree and must have completed a minimum number of required training hours set by the board.

Career Prospects

With a laboratory technology degree, certification, and skill set, you could launch a career as a medical laboratory technician. You can work in hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, offices of physicians, and even in medical universities. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of medical laboratory technicians were employed by hospitals in 2012.
The job duties typically include:

  • Analyze body fluids
  • Operate and manage lab equipment and computerized instruments
  • Study samples of blood for transfusions
  • Log data and manage patient records
  • Assist physicians and discuss findings of laboratory tests

In 2012, the median annual income of these professionals was $47,820. The field is expected to grow by 22% from 2012-2022, reflecting a positive employment change. With more experience and knowledge, you can improve your career prospects.


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What skill can you learn with an associate degree in medical laboratory technology?

A:With an associate degree in medical laboratory technology, you can learn to examine and analyze body fluids and the liquid and cellular parts of blood, look for bacteria and other microorganisms that cause diseases, analyze the chemical content of blood and other bodily fluids, test for drug levels in the blood that indicate how a patient is responding to a particular medicine and analyze results, verifying their validity.

Q:What are the requirements to get a medical laboratory technician certification?

A:Applicants should have an associate degree in medical laboratory technology (or equivalent) from a program accredited by a recognized institution. The accrediting agency should be approved by the US Department of Education, the Council of Higher Education Accreditation or by the AMT Board of Directors. You should have also completed an internship or any form of practical experience in medical laboratory science.

Q:What is the goal of a laboratory technician degree?

A:A laboratory technician degree is designed to prepare students for roles as laboratory technicians. The program will equip students with skills and in-depth knowledge relevant to the field. Students will learn how to perform standardized laboratory procedures through hands on training. The program entails theoretical learning components as well as practice-oriented learning.

Q:Medical laboratory technician programs will cover what courses?

A:A medical laboratory technician degree will cover a wide range of subjects. Students will develop a strong theoretical basis of knowledge and also learn how to perform medical lab tests. The courses typically covered are: clinical chemistry, hematology, microbiology, serology, immunology, immunohematology, and more. The curriculum may vary slightly from college to college.

Q:What will I learn in a medical laboratory technician degree?

A:The basic aim of a medical laboratory technician program is to prepare you for a job as a lab technician. Throughout the program, you will learn how to perform standardized medical lab tests, collect and process biological specimens, use lab equipment appropriately, apply clinical methodologies, correlate lab results, and process information.

Q:What can individuals do after completing medical laboratory technician degree programs?

A:After completing a medical laboratory technician degree, individuals can pursue a career as a lab technician. In some states, a license may be required. Most laboratory technicians are employed by medical and diagnostic laboratories, offices of physicians, and hospitals. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical lab technicians made a median annual income of $47,820 in 2012. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Q:What do people with a medical laboratory technology degree do?

A:People who major in medical laboratory technology are responsible for a variety of tasks. They are required to analyze body fluids, such as blood and urine and tissue samples, to record any abnormality. They also study blood samples for use in transfusions by identifying the number of cells, the cell morphology or the blood group and blood type. Operating technical laboratory equipment, putting data into a patient's medical record, discussing results and findings with physicians and supervising or training medical laboratory technicians are also duties of a medical laboratory technologist.

Q:Should I go for medical laboratory technician online programs?

A:An online program in medical laboratory sciences would offer you a lot of convenience and flexibility, especially in terms of study scheduling and transportation to and from campus. In addition to that, you do not even have to quit your existing job to go to college. However, with a medical laboratory program, there will be technical aspects for which you might need some firsthand practical experience. This might require weekly or bi-weekly visits to the campus. A hybrid program would be more suited in this case particularly.

Q:Are online courses for medical laboratory technician recognized by employers?

A:Yes, nowadays employers do not differentiate between online and on-campus degrees. You do not have to worry about finding a job with an online degree as they are commonly accepted by employers. However, please make sure you earn the degree from an accredited institution. Online learning has become an acceptable and flexible mode of learning.

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