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Medical Laboratory Technologist


Do you have an insatiable curiosity about what goes on under the lens of the microscope? Do amoeba and organisms excite your brain? If so, have you ever considered a career as a medical laboratory technologist? Medical technologists perform a full range of laboratory tests, from the most routine to the most complex, with little or no supervision. They spend the majority of their time working alone in a lab with their microscope. They conduct experiments and analyses to assist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.

Technologists' duties vary and may consist of basic medical test including collecting blood samples, preparing chemical solutions, preparing and analyzing sample specimens, analyzing swabs, keeping records of laboratory tests, running and maintaining quality control, troubleshooting instrumentation, and reporting results to head nurses or physicians.

Yet the complexity of tests performed, the level of judgment needed, and the amount of responsibility workers assume depend largely on the amount of education and experience a medical laboratory technologist has. Those with university degrees will have the opportunity to go beyond basic research. Most medical laboratory technologists specialize in areas such as clinical chemistry, biochemistry, clinical microbiology, hematology, histotechnology, immunohematology or cytotechnology.

For instance, working in the hematology department, a technologist will analyse cells in the blood and bone marrow in order to diagnose disorders such as leukemia. They study cells under the microscope and report to doctors if they find any abnormal ones. When they do find unusual cells, the must obtain a second opinion from a more senior person, such as a pathologist. Accordingly, a technologist specializing in biochemistry might analyze chemicals in the blood and use high-tech equipment to diagnose a range of diseases such as liver failure and diabetes.

In general, when testing cells, their main goal is to find abnormalities in the tissue. Since the job is not patient based, but laboratory based, technologists must remember that they are dealing with people's lives. Unfortunately, when they find abnormalities in the blood and tissues, it is usually the sign of a tumor, which could be the start of cancer.

Technologists supervise technicians in the testing process ensuring that things are done properly. If a problem arises, they will instruct technicians on how to deal with it. When the blood has been removed or the swab has been swabbed, technologists interpret the results. This process requires an understanding of the biological and chemical processes in science.
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Southern Technical College

Southern Technical College provides education and training in a variety of medical and technical areas that enable graduates to obtain entry-level employment.

Programs Offered:
  • A.S. - Medical Laboratory Technician
  • A.S. - Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • A.S. - Surgical Technician



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Medical laboratory technologists are analytical, creative and innovative thinkers with excellent problem solving skills. They have a natural affinity and aptitude for mathematics and science and can often visualize complex processes and design on computers. They possess excellent communication skills, both written and oral, and have the ability to work well in teams and alone. Technologists also possess the ability to pay close attention to details when conducting research.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct chemical analyses of blood, urine, cerebro-spinal and other body fluids
  • Study blood cells and other tissue to determine their relation to various physiological and pathological conditions
  • Prepare tissue sections for microscopic examinations using techniques to demonstrate special cellular tissue elements or other characteristics
  • Examine body fluids and tissues for abnormal chemical levels, cells or bacteria
  • Determine blood type for transfusions
  • Establish procedures for the analysis of specimens and for medical laboratory experiments
  • Perform blood group, type and compatibility tests for transfusion purposes
  • Conduct medical research and analyses
  • Participate in quality assurance and quality control activities
  • May supervise and train other medical laboratory technologists and other medical laboratory workers
  • A typical day for a medical laboratory technologist will vary depending on where they work and what they specialize in. Those working with infectious patients and samples and hazardous chemicals must take safety precautions to avoid infection or injury. Again, working hours vary depending on the type of laboratory in which they work. Research laboratories usually operate weekdays only, however, in diagnostic clinical laboratories, technologists work rotating shifts of days, evenings and nights, including weekends and holidays.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Medical laboratory technologists are employed by hospitals, research and development laboratories, consulting engineering companies, in chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and a variety of other manufacturing and processing industries. They can also be found in the health sector, researching and teaching in the education field or working in all levels of the government.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for medical laboratory technologists? Those with experience may gain higher levels of responsibility and begin performing more advanced experiments. They can also advance to become scientists with further education, quality control technicians, senior supervisors or staff management. Some medical laboratory technologists that take additional training can teach in technical institutes. Others may work as technical writers or as salespersons for scientific apparatus.

  Educational Paths  
Medical laboratory technologists usually require completion of a two- to three-year college program in medical, biochemical or engineering technology. Some technologists also have a bachelor's degree in science. Certification in medical laboratory technology or in a related field is available through associations of technologists and may be required by some employers as a part of the hiring process. Usually, a two-year period of supervised work experience is required before one can become certified as a medical laboratory technologist (MLT).

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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Southern Technical College

Southern Technical College provides education and training in a variety of medical and technical areas that enable graduates to obtain entry-level employment.

Programs Offered:
  • A.S. - Medical Laboratory Technician
  • A.S. - Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • A.S. - Surgical Technician

Medical Career Institute - Ocean Township

Medical Career Institute in Ocean, NJ is your one-stop-shop for medical career training in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  

Programs Offered:
  • Sterile Processing Technology
  • Surgical Technology

McCann School of Business & Technology

A new career is closer than you think!

McCann School of Business & Technology has a history of helping students succeed through hands-on education and career training. Their faculty and staff work to ensure that when you’ve completed your program, you’re truly ready to pursue your career.

Programs Offered:
  • Medical Clinical Assistant
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Vancouver Career College
Get the skills you need to land the job you want at Vancouver Career College. We offer diploma programs in Business, Health Care, Technology and more.
Programs Offered:
  • Medical Laboratory Assistant

Brookline College

Get hands-on training with Brookline College. We offer diploma and degree programs in the areas of health care, business, nursing, criminal justice, paralegal, and computer security.

Programs Offered:
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Keiser University Campus

Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career-focused education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.  Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience. 

Programs Offered:
  • Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technician

Argosy University

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs Offered:
  • Medical Laboratory Technology (AS)
  • Histotechnology (AAS)

Harris School of Business
Jump into the exciting world of technology or medical services at Harris School.
Programs Offered:
  • Surgical Technology

Fortis Institute

At Fortis Institute, you may get the skills and training you need to prepare for a career.

* Programs vary by location

* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information

Programs Offered:
  • Sterile Processing Technician
  • Surgical Technology

Kaplan University


Online Education That Fits Your Life

For 80 years, we’ve been preparing students for career success. We’ve led the wayso that our students can too.

Programs Offered:
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