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Laboratory Testing Technician Job Description, Career as a Laboratory Testing Technician, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Associate’s degree

Average Salary $53,000 per year

Job Outlook Very good

Basic Job Description

Laboratory testing technicians work in medical and clinical laboratories that detect diseases and perform tests and experiments to create treatments and diagnosis information. Technicians work in the lab to assist technologists, who are qualified to actually perform the tests. Technicians will collect specimens such as blood and urine, prepare the specimen for the technologist to perform tests, prepare and clean work environments for technologists, or help technologists perform complex tests under their supervision. The main duty of a technician is to make sure technologists have everything they need and are able to effectively perform tests in a clean and sanitary environment.

Education and Training Requirements

To get a job as a laboratory testing technician, most candidates will get a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology or medical science. Some universities have Associate’s programs that provide education in these courses and allow students to work in a hospital or laboratory setting as part of their education. Many technicians work as an intern or apprentice in a hospital or laboratory before obtaining their degree and working in a lab.

Some states require laboratory technicians to be licensed or registered before working in a lab. They will require a candidate to obtain either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in a medical science field before becoming qualified to take a state administered test. State requirements for working in a clinical laboratory can be found through state health departments.

Getting the Job

Laboratory testing technicians need to have good problem solving and analytical skills. They must be comfortable working closely with patients and collecting specimens from them such as blood or urine. Technicians work with a variety of tools and machines in the lab, so basic computer skills are also important. Manual dexterity and good color vision are also important skills to have.

Laboratory workers must be detail oriented, as many test results can change significantly if one small detail is incorrect or out of place. Lab workers must also respect the importance of confidentiality and be able to keep patient test results and information strictly confidential.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Technicians can advance and become technologists after becoming familiar with working in a lab. Technologists have a more advanced degree and are in charge of performing entire experiments or tests. Technologists have the opportunity to advance to supervisory positions in laboratories or may become chief clinical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers in hospitals.

Laboratory testing technicians who want to advance their career can pursue a Master’s degree in medical technology or a biological science. To advance to the position of a laboratory director, a Doctorate degree is usually required. Most positions also require a specific number of years working at one level within the lab before qualifying for advancement opportunities.

Employment outlook is looking to be excellent over the next several years due to there being more laboratory technician openings available than there are applicants to fill the positions. Many lab workers move up in their field or move on to working in another department within a hospital, so openings are available in these situations as well.

Working Conditions and Environment

Laboratory testing technicians spend most of their time working in a lab that is clean and well lit. They are often required to wear protective gloves, goggles, masks and coats to ensure safety and prevent specimens from touching them.

Lab workers must be comfortable working with specimens such as blood or urine and understand safety and sanitation practices that must be observed while working with them. They are also trained to work with a variety of chemicals that may produce hazardous fumes.

Laboratory technicians’ work schedules vary according to the size of their work environment and setting. Some large laboratories that work for hospitals may operate continuously and have employees rotate working morning, afternoon and night shifts. Some laboratory technicians also have to work on-call and make themselves available on weekends or holidays in the event of an emergency.

Laboratory technicians must also be able to work efficiently in a high-stress environment. Hospitals occasionally get a rush of patients that need lab work performed, and workers must be able to produce quality lab reports even if there is an overabundance of work to be done.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a laboratory testing technician is about $53,000 per year. Salaries vary according to the level of experience a technician has, their level of education, and their place of employment. Lab workers who are employed in a hospital have the potential to make significantly more than a technician working for a small laboratory.

Laboratory testing technicians also receive health insurance benefits, vacation and sick time along with their salary. Technicians occasionally have to work weekends, holidays or night shifts, and because of this they are well compensated by their employers for their hard work.

Where to Go for More Information

Construction Materials Engineering Council, Inc.
850 Courtland Street, Suite B1
Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 628-3682

American Association for Clinical Chemistry
1850 K Street NW, Suite 625
Washington, DC 20006
(800) 892-1400

American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
6701 Democracy Boulevard, Suite 300
Bethesda, MD 20817
(301) 657-2768

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine