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Laboratory Technologist

Career Information

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Mature male technologist examining sample in test tube

A laboratory technologist examines a blood sample.

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Job Description

A laboratory technologist performs complex tests that help other medical professionals, such as physicians, detect, diagnose and treat disease. A laboratory technologist who works in a small lab may perform a variety of tests, but one who works in a larger lab is likely to specialize.

Employment Facts

There were 172,000 laboratory technologists employed in 2008.

Educational Requirements

Aspiring laboratory technologists should earn a bachelor's degree with a major in medical technology or one of the life sciences.

Other Requirements

In order to work in some states, a laboratory technologist must be licensed or registered. To become licensed one must take a written exam after earning a bachelor's degree.

Advancement Opportunities

Once he or she has gained experience, a laboratory technologist may supervise other laboratory personnel, including laboratory technicians. Some laboratory technologists take a different career path, and find jobs in product development, marketing and sales with companies that manufacture home diagnostic testing kits and laboratory equipment and supplies.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be average job growth for laboratory technologists through 2018. Approximately 53,300 additional laboratory technicians will be needed over the next several years.

Earnings

Laboratory technologists earned a median annual salary of $55,140 in 2009.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a Laboratory Technologist currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Laboratory Technologist's Life:

On a typical day a laboratory technologist's tasks might include:

  • using microscopes to examine and analyze body fluids and cells, looking for bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms
  • analyzing the chemical content of fluids
  • testing for drug levels in the blood in order to show how a patient is responding to treatment
  • preparing specimens for examination, counting cells and looking for abnormal cells in blood and body fluids
  • analyzing the results of laboratory tests and relaying them to physicians
  • typing and cross matching blood samples for transfusions
  • supervising laboratory technicians

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-and-clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm (visited February 08, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Laboratory Technologist, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/29-2011.00 (visited November 29, 2010).

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