What Does a Lab Technician Do?

What Does a Lab Technician Do?

Mar 17, 2015 | 11:00 am

If you’re interested in working behind the scenes in healthcare, analyzing samples and discussing results, a lab technician job could be a great match for you. It’s a career that’s growing faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with no signs of slowing. So what does a lab tech do, and how can you get started?

Getting Started

Every lab technician job starts with an associate degree in clinical laboratory science—and in some states, certification. After earning the appropriate level of education, gaining experience in an entry-level lab tech job that involves routine clinical lab work is a great first place to start. Specializing in a certain field of medicine comes with time and experience—and often more education.

Job Duties

The BLS reports that on a normal day, lab technicians perform tests ordered by surgeons or physicians, which can include the following:

•Analyzing bodily fluids and recording findings
•Studying blood samples for use in transfusions
•Operating lab equipment as needed
•Preparing specimens as needed
•Logging data from medical tests
•Sharing results with physicians or surgeons

Lab technician jobs can be found in hospitals, physicians’ offices, private clinics, research labs, forensic units and wherever medical lab work is conducted. Some of the most important traits of a technician include solid analytical judgment, attention to details and staying calm under pressure.

Career Growth

Once lab techs gain experience in a certain medical field, they become specialized and more valuable to employers seeking to fill those roles. In terms of clinical job advancement, lab techs can grow into lab technologists with experience and continued education. Earning a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science is the most common educational path.

According to the BLS, as of May 2012, lab technician jobs offered a median annual wage of $37,240 for full-time employees. Lab techs working in facilities with around-the-clock care, such as hospitals, can pick up overtime hours to boost their income.

Over 330,000 medical laboratory technicians and medical technologists hold jobs in the United States today, notes certification agency American Medical Technologists, contributing to the diagnosis and prevention of disease. With a growing aging population that continues to need medical diagnoses for conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and more, lab technician jobs should remain in high demand.