Professional Profile: Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)
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Professional Profile: Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT)

If you have interest in science and are extremely detail-oriented, a career as a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) may be right for you.

If you have interest in science and are extremely detail-oriented, a career as a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) may be right for you. MLTs collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue and other substances. Though they work behind the scenes, MLTs play a vital role in the quality of a patient’s healthcare by helping to diagnosis and prevent disease.

MLT duties include less complex routine tests and laboratory procedures, such as:

  • Preparing specimens for testing
  • Analyzing body fluids such as blood, urine and tissue samples, and recording normal or abnormal findings
  • Using automated equipment and computerized instruments capable of performing a number of tests at the same time
  • Working under the supervision of medical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers

Education and Training

Most MLTs have an associate degree from a community or junior college, a vocational or technical school, or the Armed Forces. Technicians who learned their skills on the job must also meet the educational requirements and necessary semester hours of training. Some states also require MLTs to be licensed or registered, and many employers prefer applicants who are certified by a recognized professional association, such as AMT. Medical laboratory technicians can advance and become technologists through additional education and experience.

Choosing an Accredited Program

Nationally recognized agencies that accredit medical laboratory technician programs include agencies such as the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and The National
Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

  • Licensure: Some states require medical laboratory technicians to be licensed or registered. Information on licensure is available from sate departments of health or boards of occupational licensing.
  • Certification: Many employers prefer applicants who are certified by a recognized professional association, such as the American Medical Technologists.
  • Advancement: Medical laboratory technicians can advance and become technologists through additional education and experience. Technologists may advance to supervisory positions in laboratory work or may become chief technologists or laboratory managers in hospitals. Manufacturers of home diagnostic testing kits and laboratory equipment and supplies also seek experienced technologists to work in product development, marketing and sales. Professional certification, specialization and/or a graduate degree in medical technology, one of the biological sciences, chemistry, management or education usually speeds advancement.

Is it Right for You?

Employers seek medical laboratory technicians with good analytical judgment and the ability to work under pressure. Close attention to detail is also essential for medical laboratory technicians because small differences or changes in test substances or numerical readouts can be crucial to a diagnosis. Manual dexterity and normal color vision are highly desirable, and with the widespread use of automated laboratory equipment, computer skills are important.

If you are interested in becoming cetified through AMT as an MLT visit our Medical Laboratory Technician page to determine if you are eligible.

Employment

Medical laboratory technicians held about 163,400 jobs in 2014. Employment is expected to grow by 18 percent between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. An increase in the aging population will lead to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, through laboratory procedures. Medical laboratory technicians will be needed to use and maintain the equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment.

Salary

The median annual wage of medical laboratory technicians was $38,950 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $61,720. In general, salaries are higher in a hospital setting than in physician offices.

Want to Learn More?

Visit the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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