Medical laboratory technicians perform an array of tests that are designed to detect and diagnose diseases caused by microorganisms, bacteria or parasites. They analyze body fluids and cells using microscopes and other state-of-the-art technology. The minimum education requirement to become a medical laboratory technician is an associate or a bachelor’s degree. Medical laboratory technicians mostly work in hospitals. Employment opportunities in this field are expected to grow by 14 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To qualify for a medical laboratory technician certificate, candidates must hold either an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must complete at least 60 semester hour of course credits; 25 of these credits must include courses directly related to medical laboratory technicians. Students must complete their coursework in chemistry, biology, mathematics and computer science and demonstrate at least six months of laboratory experience. Candidates’ laboratory experience must consist of chemical, physical, biological or histological examinations of various body fluids and tissues.
Applicants who satisfy the eligibility requirements to become certified medical laboratory technicians are advised to prepare for their certification examination in advance. Various recognized professional associations administer certification examinations for medical laboratory technicians. The examination is designed to evaluate a candidate’s general laboratory knowledge as well as topics such as chemistry, hematology, immunology and serology. Other topics that candidates should be familiar with include blood banking, bacteriology, parasitology and urinalysis. The examination is delivered in a standardized multiple choice format.
Like other health care professionals, medical laboratory technicians must be up-to-date on the latest changes in their profession by taking continuing education and professional development training. Certified medical laboratory technicians must maintain their credentials by accumulating Continuing Education or CE credits. The courses can be taken online or by attending workshops, conferences and seminars. Continuing education credits can also be obtained by taking courses at colleges and universities or by attending employer sponsored educational programs.
Although certification is not required, medical laboratory technicians who are certified enhance their professional status. Candidates who satisfy the eligibility requirements to become certified medical laboratory technicians can access study materials and examination preparation guidelines from the websites of professional associations such as Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the American Medical Technologists, the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel, and the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts. Some states may require medical laboratory technicians to obtain a license.