Does the sight of lab equipment make your heart thump in a happy way? Is the investigative aspect of the medical field the part the interests you the most? Are you an analytical person? Do you enjoy keeping up with technology? Do you have steady hands capable of precision work? If so, a career as a clinical medical technician might be for you.
What Is A Medical Lab Technician?
If a doctor has ever taken blood, urine, or other samples for a lab test, you've benefitted from the services of a clinical lab technician.
Is a Clinical Medical Lab Technologist Different from a Technician?
Yes! You should pay close attention to the distinction as you research careers and educational options. There are a lot of synonyms for a clinical medical lab technician, like medical lab technician, clinical lab technician, clinical medical laboratory technician, or medical and clinical lab technician. Whether you use clinical, medical, or both, and lab, laboratory, or neither, the meaning is the same. But the last word is a constant. While "technologist" and "technician" sound very similar, they indicate different levels of education, qualifications, and income. Clinical and medical lab technologists make more money than technicians because they perform more advanced lab procedures. They also need more education – at least a bachelor's degree. In contrast, clinical and medical lab technicians can get started with an associate degree or even a certificate program.
What Does a Medical Lab Technician Do?
Medical and clinical lab technicians perform routine laboratory tests in clinical healthcare settings to provide physicians with the information necessary to diagnose, treat, and/or prevent health problems. They analyze the chemical content of bodily fluids, look for pathogens or abnormal cells, test for drugs, match blood type, and more. They send these results to the physician (or to a pathologist) so they can be translated into a diagnosis or treatment plan. Clinical medical laboratory technicians work with equipment like microscopes, cell counters, computerized instruments, and automated sample analyzers. They typically wear safety equipment to protect themselves from infection while handling other peoples' fluids and tissues. In some settings, clinical medical technicians interact with patients to collect the samples they need. In other cases, they have little to no patient contact and samples come to them. Some clinical technicians are generalists, while others specialize in an area like microbiology, hematology, blood banking, immunology, and more.
Where Do Medical and Clinical Lab Technicians Work?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), almost half (47%) of medical lab technicians work in hospitals, with an additional 20% employed by independent medical and diagnostic laboratories. If a facility operates around the clock, technicians are needed for all shifts, weekends, and holidays. Around 12% of technicians work in doctor's offices or outpatient care centers. The remainder work in more of a research capacity. Six percent work for educational institutions. Others are employed by the government in public health or law enforcement laboratories. Some technicians support commercial research or quality control for industries like pharma, cosmetics, chemical companies, or food production.
What is the Job Outlook for Clinical Medical Laboratory Technicians?
The BLS predicts that the demand for clinical and medical lab technicians will grow faster than average through 2029. That makes this a good time to enter the career field.
How Much Do Clinical Lab Technician Make?
According to the BLS, the national median clinical lab technician salary in 2019 was $38,950 per year ($18.73 an hour). The pay you might expect varies based on where you practice – that includes the type of facility as well as the state or city.
Our Clinical Medical Technician Program
Our clinical medical laboratory technician program prepares you for entry-level medical lab work. It's particularly well-suited for anyone who wants to work in a smaller setting like a doctor's office, where you need to be a generalist and collect samples yourself. Keep in mind that some states have licensing requirements for medical and clinical lab technicians, with specific educational or exam requirements. Check the regulations where you live before you commit to any course of study.
Medical and Clinical Lab Technician Training
Our 920-hour Clinical Medical Technician Program is online and self-paced. It combines three of our standalone curricula to prepare you for clinical lab work, including:
- Clinical Medical Assisting
- EKG Technician
- Phlebotomy Technician
Taken together, these modules will teach you the theory, context and procedures of your job. You'll learn about the legal, ethical, and safety considerations you need for a healthcare career. We'll cover lab practices, urinalysis and other tests, how to draw blood samples, how to perform a 12-lead EKG test, and much more.
Clinical Medical Technician Externship with a Local Provider
An externship is like an internship, but shorter. You get the opportunity to shadow a professional and gain hands-on experience. Our clinical externship is not a mandatory piece of the program – you can graduate without it. However, it can be a valuable way to gain 180 hours of valuable experience for your resume and make you stand out from other entry-level candidates. If you put your best foot forward, you can earn professional references or even a permanent job in your externship facility! To be eligible to start an externship, you need to finish at least 50 course-hours with test scores of 85% or better. You'll also need to pass a background check, drug screening, and meet a few other requirements.
Pass the CCMA Exam
This program includes a voucher for the National Health Association (NHA)'s Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) exam, which can also serve you in a clinical medical assisting career if you decide that you want a higher degree of patient interaction. The package prepares you to earn two other NHA certifications, as well: Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT) and Certified EKG Technician (CET). Be sure to do your research and find out what certifications are required or preferred in your area. Sometimes you need specific credentials to meet regulatory requirements, and some employers have their own preferences. Planning ahead is important – you want to build qualifications that will get you hired.
Meditec's Clinical Medication Technician program offers quick entry into a rewarding and growing career field. With self-paced coursework, you can plan school around your life instead of life around your school. You'll also get a free laptop (to keep!), so you won't have to worry about reliable equipment. If you're a military spouse, this program is eligible for MyCAA funding. That means your course of study will be completely covered by the DOD. Find out if you're eligible today!