How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technologist

How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technologist: Career Path Guide

To become a medical laboratory technologist, you need to begin by determining if this career path is right for you. Are you interested in conducting advanced testing to help identify, treat and cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions?


Does the prospect of having a career that allows you to advance to positions of greater responsibility interest you? If so, then you may be well suited for a career as a medical laboratory technologist.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a medical laboratory technologist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Medical Laboratory Technologist

To get an entry-level job as a medical laboratory technologist, you usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or life sciences. Completing courses in chemistry, biology, microbiology, mathematics, and statistics, as well as courses on clinical laboratory skills, management, and education will give you the knowledge you need to qualify for a job in this field.




Medical Laboratory Technologist Job Description

Medical laboratory technologists are responsible for performing a variety of laboratory tests and procedures in order to assist physicians in diagnosing, monitoring, treating and preventing disease and illness.



Medical Laboratory Technologist Job Duties

• Perform quality control functions

• Conduct medical research and analysis

• Determine blood type for transfusions

• Assist pathologists by preparing tissue for examination

• Examine bodily tissues and fluids, paying close attention for abnormal chemical levels, cells or bacteria



Certification Needed to Become a Medical Laboratory Technologist

Depending on the state/province or the employer, you may need to be licensed to work as a medical laboratory technologist. You can take licensing courses and examinations through the following agencies:


American Medical Technologists (United States)

American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification (United States)

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (Canada)



Medical Laboratory Technologist Salary

The salary level of medical laboratory technologists can vary depending on factors such as their level of experience, their level of education, where they work, and many others.


Medical Laboratory Technologist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary of workers in the Medical Laboratory Technologists and Pathologists' Assistants occupational group is $45,593 per year.


Medical Laboratory Technologist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of workers in the Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians occupational group is $56,130 per year.




Who Hires Medical Laboratory Technologists?

There are many employers, representing many different industries that are interested in the skills, knowledge and competencies of medical laboratory technologists, including:


• Hospitals and clinics

• Federal government (public health laboratories)

• Pharmaceutical or chemical industries

• Biotechnology companies

• Veterinary clinics

• Public or private research laboratories

• Colleges and universities

• Transplant and blood donor centers

• Fertility clinics



Work Environment for Medical Laboratory Technologists

Work Conditions: Medical laboratory technologists typically work in clean, well-lit facilities. They are exposed to different forms of physical risk while working, such as exposure to harmful chemicals. The risk of being harmed by these various risks is reduced because technologists are trained in how to properly use these substances, and they are required to wear protective masks, gloves, and goggles for their safety and protection. Technologists often have to stand often throughout the day of time in order to collect samples, and they may have to lift or turn disabled patients.


Work Schedule: Typically, medical laboratory technologists work full-time weekday hours. Technologists that work in facilities that operate 24 hours a day, such as hospitals, may be required to work evening, weekend, or overnight hours.



Careers Similar to Medical Laboratory Technologist

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to that of a medical laboratory technologist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Biological Technologist

Clinical Technician

Forensic Lab Analyst

Genetic Technologist

Laboratory Manager



Difference Between Clinical Technicians and Medical Laboratory Technologist

While the career Clinical Technician may be very similar to Medical Laboratory Technologist, there are important differences among them. Clinical technicians are associate-level professionals, while medical laboratory technologists are baccalaureate-degreed professionals.


Although much of the laboratory work performed by these professionals is the same, medical laboratory technologists conduct more advanced testing (such as molecular diagnostics and highly involved microbiological and cross-matching blood tests) because of their more theoretical background. They are also involved in evaluating and interpreting laboratory results, integrating data, consulting with physicians, and they are more likely to advance to management positions. 



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References: How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technologist

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a medical laboratory technologist.


Occupations in Alberta:Medical Laboratory Technologist.” (March 20, 2014). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 3, 2020.

Healthcare:Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 3, 2020.

Career:How to Become an MLT.” (n.d.). College of Medical Laboratory Technologists of Ontario website. Retrieved January 3, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Medical Laboratory Technologist

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Medical Laboratory Technologist can be found using on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Medical Laboratory Technologist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a medical laboratory technologist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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