The safety and quality of blood transfusions often rests on the shoulders of a blood bank technologist. A subspecialty of clinical and medical laboratory technology, this occupation requires both a bachelor’s degree and some additional training. You'll also need experience to become a certified blood bank technologist.
Your Personal Characteristics
You’ll be more effective as a blood bank technologist if you can bring some specific characteristics and abilities to the job. Blood bank technology, as the term implies, is heavily oriented to technological devices such as processing machines, electron microscopes, centrifuges and specialized testing equipment. Your ability to use this technology effectively and correctly is critical to your job. You should be detailed-oriented to follow instructions exactly and perform procedures correctly. Manual dexterity is another important quality, as is physical stamina.
A Two-Step Process
You’ll begin your career as a blood bank technologist by completing a bachelor's degree to become a medical laboratory technologist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends you choose medical technology or one of the life sciences as your major. In some programs, this degree is known as a medical laboratory scientist degree. You’ll study topics such as biology, microbiology, mathematics, statistics, clinical laboratory skills, management and other topics. These programs are offered by colleges, universities and some hospital-based programs.
Certification and More Education
Before you can practice as a medical laboratory technologist, you might need to become licensed or registered. States have different requirements that may also vary by technical specialty. Even when the state does not require certification, an employer might. Once you graduate from an accredited program, you are eligible to sit for the certification examination. Although you are now qualified to practice medical laboratory science, you need additional education and certification to become a blood bank technologist. One option is to take a post-baccalaureate certificate in blood banking, such as that offered by George Washington University. The program requires 17 credit hours and can be completed on a full- or part-time basis.
You might also choose to become certified as a specialist in blood banking technology by meeting education and experience requirements set by the American Society for Clinical Pathology. An article in Volume 24, Number 1 of the “Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine” reports that if you have a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science and three years of full-time acceptable experience, you are eligible to take the national certification exams to become a specialist in blood banking.
Your Professional Future
The BLS projects that employment for medical laboratory technologists, which includes blood bank technologists, will grow 14 percent from 2012 to 2022. The average for all occupations is projected to be 11 percent. Most blood bank technologists work in hospitals, laboratories and physicians' offices. Options for advancement include management roles, or becoming a regulatory expert, quality assessor, educator or transfusion medicine researcher. The BLS reports the average annual salary for medical laboratory technologists was $59,460 in 2013. Explore Health Careers reports a salary range of $50,000 to $70,000 for blood bank technologists.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
- Explore Health Careers: Blood Bank Technology Specialist
- George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences: Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Blood Banking for Medical Laboratory Science
- Journal of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine: Post-Baccalaureate Laboratory Specialist Certifications and Master’s Degrees in Laboratory Medicine
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 29-2011 Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
- Photo Credit maxuser/iStock/Getty Images
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