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Clinical Laboratory Technician

Job Duties

Clinical laboratory technicians perform tests and laboratory procedures that are less complex than the tests performed by clinical laboratory technologists. In fact, they are often supervised by technologists. They prepare specimens, operate automated analyzers, and perform manual tests. They may specialize in one area of the laboratory, or they may work as general technicians in multiple areas. Specializations include histotechnicians, who cut and stain tissue specimens for microscopic examination, and phlebotomists, who collect blood samples.

Laboratory Science

Tests from clinical laboratories are an integral part of the process of detection, diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases. Clinical laboratory technicians operate various types of automated equipment and instruments that are capable of executing many different tests at one time. They also use microscopes, cell counters, and other sophisticated laboratory equipment. In recent years, their work has become more and more automated. This has changed the nature of their activities, decreasing the amount of time they spend completing hands-on tasks and increasing the analytical aspects of their jobs.

Job Skills

Clinical laboratory technicians need to be able to pay extremely close attention to detail, as tiny differences in test results can substantially alter the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. They should have good manual dexterity and color vision. They must have good analytical judgment and be able to work well when pressure is high. In addition, computer skills are becoming increasingly important in the automated environment in which they work.

Income

In 2002, clinical laboratory technicians earned a median annual salary of $29,040. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $19,070, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $43,960. The following shows the median earnings for the industries employing the highest numbers of clinical laboratory technicians:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals -- $30,500
  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools -- $30,350
  • Offices of physicians -- $27,820
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories -- $27,550
  • Other ambulatory health care services -- $26,710

Training and Education

Clinical laboratory technicians usually have an associate degree form a commuity or junior college or a certificate from a hospital, vocational, or technical school. Training is also available through the Armed Forces. There are 467 educational programs in the U.S. that are fully accredited by the National Association Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools also accredit programs. In some States, clinical laboratory technicians are required to be licensed or registered. Certification is voluntary, but usually required by employers.

Clinical laboratory technicians, by completing additional education and gaining experience, can advance to become clinical laboratory technologists. From there, they may be able to advance to supervisory positions in laboratory work or become chief medical or clinical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers in hospitals. Advancement usually happens faster with a graduate degree in medical technology or the life sciences.

Employment

In 2002, clinical laboratory technicians, including technologists, held about 297,000 jobs. More than 50% worked in hospitals. Most of the rest worked in offices of physicians and in medical and diagnostic laboratories.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of clinical laboratory technicians is expected to increase about as fast as the average. New types of tests and an aging population will keep demand high for this type of work. Job opportunities will be excellent because the number of job seekers will be lower than the number of job openings. Employment will grow faster in medical and diagnostic laboratories, offices of physicians, and other health care services, although most workers will continue to be employed by hospitals.

For more information on becoming a clinical laboratory technician, please see our directory of schools offering Medical Training


Clinical Laboratory Technician Training

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            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

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            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
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            • Approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating since 2010.
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            • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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            • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
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            • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
            • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
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            Nursing@Simmons, the innovative, online nursing degree program from Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences prepares Registered Nurses for the next stage of their careers.

            You need to have a Bachelor’s degree and RN license to be qualified for this school.

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            • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked 8th among the Best Online Graduate Education Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private, co-ed college founded in 1821 and located in downtown Washington, D.C.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and 55.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has distinguished alumni including Senator Harry Reid, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and actress Courtney Cox.
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            • Founded in Southern California in 1998 by dog training expert Steven Appelbaum.
            • The largest independent dog training company in the United States.
            • Offers 11-stage programs that feature an in-home study component along with a hands-on training module.
            • A member of the MyCAA Financial Assistance program, which offers eligible military spouses up to $4,000 of tuition assistance that can be used towards any of their courses.
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            • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
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