What Does a Medical Laboratory Technician Do?
Medical laboratory technicians (MLTs), who must have at least an associate degree, conduct patient care testing in a clinical setting. They perform complex chemical and analytical tests on patient specimens that provide valuable information for doctors to make diagnoses.
Medical laboratory technologists perform research that helps unravel the mysteries of the human body. It’s a great occupation for highly organized people who enjoy working with precision and accuracy, a varied career path that involves:
- Looking at cells under a microscope
- Cross-matching blood
- Performing chemical and molecular analyses
- Looking at pathological disease states
Why is This is a Good Career Bet?
Health-related occupations will add the most new jobs to the U.S. economy through 2024 — nearly a third of all jobs — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fourteen of the top 20 fastest-growing careers are in health care occupations, according to CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
For jobs requiring at least an associate degree, medical laboratory technician is ranked eighth among CareerOneStop's 39
fastest-growing occupations and fourth of its top 45
careers with the most job openings through 2024. Positions are projected to increase by 31% through the coming decade.
Medical lab technicians (MLTs) work in:
- Doctors’ offices
- Blood centers and blood banks
- Research labs
- Regulatory agencies
- Sales in the health care industry
Job Skills and Abilities
Skills that make a good medical technologist include:
- aptitude for science
- good analytical judgment
- ability to work under pressure with precision and accuracy
- close attention to detail
- excellent computer skills
- ability to follow written and verbal directions closely
- good manual dexterity
Earning an associate degree as an MLT can serve as a stepping stone to earning a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or other allied health fields that require a bachelor’s degree.
Salaries and Projected Job Growth
Many of our students receive their board certification through the American Society of Clinical Pathology and enter the workforce as an MLT at a salary in line with national averages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, wages can range from around $30,000 to nearly $80,000 annually.
In fact, the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) states that there is a shortage of technicians nationwide, leading to higher salaries and more opportunities. The Career Center on the ASCLS website features current job openings across the country and is a great professional resource throughout your learning and working experiences.