How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Technician

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Clinical laboratory testing plays a very important role in identifying, diagnosing, and treating illnesses and diseases. Trained medical personnel are required to perform these tests and report the results to physicians and other medical professionals. This is the job of clinical laboratory technicians.


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What does a clinical laboratory technician do?

Clinical laboratory technicians study and examine cells and body fluids to diagnose conditions, illnesses, and diseases. The search for parasites, bacteria, and other microorganisms, examine fluid chemical content, test for drug levels, and match blood for transfusions. They prepare specimens and perform manual tests according to detailed instructions. They use a variety of equipment such as cell counters, microscopes, and other sophisticated equipment. They often use computerized instruments and automated equipment such as automated analyzers. This equipment can perform many tests at one time. Once the tests are complete clinical laboratory technicians examine the results and report them to physicians or other medical personnel.

Clinical laboratory technicians typically work under the supervision of laboratory managers or medical and clinical laboratory technologists. They may work in many areas of the clinical laboratory or specialize in a specific area. They are trained to work with specimens that can be infectious and they must take the proper precautions to ensure their safety and prevent contamination.

What kind of training does a clinical laboratory technician need?

Clinical laboratory technicians need at least an associate degree from a junior or community college or a certificate from a vocational or technical school, Armed Forces, or a hospital. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredits many clinical laboratory technician programs.

Some states require clinical laboratory technicians to be registers or licensed. The requirements vary by state but typically including completion of an accredited program and passing a written examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a clinical laboratory technician?

Employment of clinical laboratory technicians is projected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 14% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Population growth, development of new tests, and technological advances will drive employment growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for clinical laboratory technicians with extensive experience. Many job openings will be from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do clinical laboratory technicians make?

As of August 2009, clinical laboratory technicians with less than 1 year experience earned hourly salaries between $11.54 and $16.08. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earned between $12.86 and $17.46 (2).

A career as a clinical laboratory technician is a great choice for people who are interested in the medical field. Ability to work independently and as part of team, good problem solving skills, good analytical judgment, manual dexterity, good color vision, and ability to work under pressure are essential skills. Paying close attention to detail is also very important.

Joshua T Osborne

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