A career as a lab technician is one of the most fulfilling and promising paths to take in the medical field. Not only does it have a constant labor demand, but several facilities require their aid. If you are looking into practicing as a lab technician, here’s everything you need to know about the profession.
What is a lab technician?
Medical laboratory technicians (MLT) or simply, lab technicians (LT), are medical professionals who conduct laboratory tests on several types of human specimens, including bodily fluids, skin, and hair. They operate under the close supervision of a doctor, lab technologist, or a lab manager. They perform chemical analyses of the specimen collected to aid medical professionals in diagnosing and treating patients.
Lab technicians earned $53,120 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is an impressive demand for the job, and it is expected to grow up to 7% in the next ten years. The serious need for it entails that there is a promising future waiting for any aspiring technician.
The job responsibilities of a lab technician
Lab technicians are not only glued to conducting specimen analyses in their daily routine. There’s a more significant scope of work that makes their day-to-day activities vary. Here are the job responsibilities of a lab technician:
- Preparation of solutions
- Extraction of samples
- Examination of cells
- Analysis of data and test results
- Creation of charts, report, and graphs
- Interpretation of findings with medical personnel
- Maintenance of the laboratory equipment, including the calibration, adjustment, and functionality
- Management of recordkeeping of research findings into a database
- Inventory check of available lab supplies
The work of lab technicians is vital in patients’ diagnostic process. They perform various tests to help determine patients’ conditions. They analyze results and forward these to the supervising doctor or medical professional. This makes them in charge of operating the machinery and equipment found in the lab. Thus, they need the knowledge on how to run the said equipment and its proper maintenance.
Work environment of a lab technician
So, where do lab technicians exactly work? Yes, they work at labs, but what kind of labs and where are these found? Several places require the aid of lab technicians, which include the following:
- Diagnostic centers
- Private laboratories
- Research and development facilities
- Construction sites
- Industrial plants
The essential soft skills of a lab technician
Lab technicians need a diverse set of skills to excel in their careers. If you are keen on being a successful medical laboratory technician, here are the required soft skills you need to instill in yourself:
A huge chunk of the job deals with reviewing lab results and analyzing the appropriate solution for them. Thus, lab technicians need to have a systematic process of problem-solving to arrive at accurate conclusions.
2. Analytical skills
The problem-solving skills work hand-in-hand with the analytical skills of the lab technician. Anyone who wants to practice the profession should know various analytical methods.
3. Organizational skills
Excellent organizational skills will make your job easier as the profession highly deals with recordkeeping and lab equipment maintenance. When you can leaf through records swiftly and can maintain a clean work area, you are more efficient and comfortable with your job.
4. Written and verbal communication skills
Lab technicians work in a multi-person work environment. You’ll need to deal with coworkers, supervising doctors, and patients. Thus, you need excellent verbal skills to communicate with them. Also, written skills are valuable since you will be writing the report for your findings. Both the doctor and patients must be able to understand your analysis.
4. Time management
Most of the time, lab technicians conduct timed tests. This means that you have to work within a said timeframe to meet deadlines. Also, having good time management skills will help you accomplish more tasks at hand.
5. Great attention to detail
Dealing with scientific approaches to diagnosis, you must have keen attention to detail to arrive at accurate results. Some of the responsibilities that need thorough attention to detail include the following protocols and quality procedures where you must closely monitor their strict implementation.
6. Hand-eye coordination
One of the skills that make lab technicians efficient at their job is having hand-eye coordination to use various laboratory equipment and collect the necessary specimens. With this precision, you can perform your job more efficiently and effectively, saving you lots of time.
How to become a lab technician
So what does it take to be a lab technician? Aside from the skills, you need to meet educational and certification requirements in becoming a lab technician.
1. A high school diploma is enough, but an Associate’s Degree is better.
The minimum educational requirement for lab technicians is a high school diploma. However, most companies prefer someone with an associate’s degree in Laboratory Science or any related majors.
Even more, what will set you apart from other applicants is having a degree from any institution accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). You also have the option of taking up a bachelor’s degree majoring in Laboratory Sciences to earn the proper knowledge in the medical field.
2. A relevant license or certification may be required.
A license or certification isn’t always necessarily required for all companies or states. But if you want to amp up your job success rate, you could secure these from specific associations.
The first association to check out is the American Medical Technologists (AMT), which administers the certification and professional memberships for most healthcare professionals. Other associations where you can earn certifications include the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and the American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB).
Earning these certifications requires you to meet a certain amount of experience and other credentials to be eligible. So give their websites a sweep as you consider securing your certification.
That covers everything you need to know in pursuing to become a lab technician as your career. In your job pursuit, you could use some comprehensive guide to acing your job application process. With that in mind, here are some promising Skill Success courses to help you in your journey:
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