Career Profile: Medical Technologists

Nurse Anesthesiologist

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Also Called: Clinical Laboratory Technologist

Job Description:

Medical technologists serve as fully functional lab specialists, performing complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic and bacteriological tests. Among their myriad duties, technologists may find themselves microscopically examining blood, tissue and other body substances; making cultures of body fluid and tissue samples; analyzing samples for chemical content or a chemical reaction; and determining blood glucose and cholesterol levels. They also type and cross-match blood samples for transfusions.

Medical Technologists have more responsibility than Medical Technicians, a related field, and often supervise these technicians, especially in larger laboratory settings. Technologists also evaluate test results, monitor the accuracy of tests, and develop testing procedures. Depending on the size of the laboratory, technologists may perform many types of tests (if a smaller laboratory), or specialize, which is common in larger labs. Specialists (such as microbiology technologists, clinical chemistry technologists, among others) work within a specific set of tests.

Work Environment:

Hours and working conditions vary for medical technologists, depending on the size and type of their place of employment. For example, technologists working in large hospitals or independent laboratories may work a day, evening, or night shift, as these facilities often operate around the clock. Personnel in smaller facilities may also find themselves working rotating shifts, depending on need. Some technologists are on call some nights and weekends in case of emergencies. Laboratory settings are well lighted and clean. Due to the nature of the work, technologists may spend the bulk of their day on their feet.

Education and Training Requirements:

Generally speaking, medical technologists have a bachelor's degree in medical technology or in one of the life sciences, or some combination of formal training and work experience. Universities and hospitals offer medical technology programs, and include courses in chemistry, biological sciences, microbiology, mathematics, statistics, and specialized laboratory courses.

A medical assistant must learn about clinical procedures, laboratory techniques, and first aid. Additionally, a medical assistant should also have knowledge on insurance processing and accounting. Gaining experience from apprenticeship and internship programs are also highly encouraged.

Salary Range:

Median annual earnings of medical and clinical laboratory technologists were $42,910 in 2002. A representative sample of median salaries among popular places of employment for technologists looks like this:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $43,340
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $42,020
  • Offices of physicians: $38,690
Job Outlook:

Excellent. First, the number of job openings is expected to continue to exceed the number of job seekers. Employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012, as the volume of laboratory tests increases with both population growth and the development of new types of tests. Second, technological advances will make diagnostic tests more powerful and encourage additional testing among the population, leading to more opportunities.

Openings will continue to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire or stop working for some other reason.

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