Clinical Laboratory Technician Training Schools & Degree Programs

Clinical laboratory work plays an essential role in finding disease in the human body. Lab work can help in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Clinical laboratory technicians are also known as medical technologists. Clinical laboratory specialists analyze and examine body fluids and cells.

These specialists look for bacteria, microorganisms, and parasites. They are responsible for analyzing the chemical content of fluids, and they do matching of blood types for blood transfusions. A clinical technician also tests for drug levels in the blood. This testing helps them determine how well a patient is responding to treatment.

Top Clinical Lab Tech/Medical Technologist Schools

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Nature of the Work

Technologists are key players in preparing specimens for analysis. They count cells, and they examine blood and fluid for abnormal cells. Sophisticated laboratory equipment is used to perform these procedures. For instance, microscopes and cell counters are used to do tests. More sophisticated testing involves using automated and computerized machines that can perform multiple tests. After examining and testing specimens, these clinical technicians must relay accurate information to the doctor. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are necessary to properly communicate the results to the doctors and other medical personnel. Accurate communication of results is essential in this field of medicine.

Computer technology has changed the way clinical laboratory professionals do their job. The job of these professionals is more analytical and less hands on. Education and experience determine what level of complexity that the technician will perform. Chemical technologists perform more complex and sophisticated testing than technicians. They perform more analysis on blood products and body fluids. Technologists take samples of body tissues and examine these specimens for disease and abnormality. The clinical technologists has more authority to implement protocols for a lab. Oftentimes, these professionals are promoted to supervisory positions in the lab. Technologists in small labs perform a wider range of tests than other technologists. Those in larger labs tend to specialize in certain areas.

Clinical technicians perform the less complex tasks. For example, they may operate automatic analyzers and prepare specimens. Sometimes they perform manual tests with a list of detailed instructions to guide the process.

Work Environment

The clinical technologist and technician works in an infectious environment. When proper protocol is handled, there are few dangers that exist. Protective gloves, masks, and goggles are used to protect against infection and contamination. Working conditions are usually in a clean environment that is well lit. Most technologists work a 40 hour week and overtime is necessary some times.

Training, Qualifications, and Advancement

A position as a clinical technologist usually requires a bachelor degree in biology or one of the life sciences. Clinical laboratory technicians usually hold an associate degree in laboratory science. In order to get an entry level position, a bachelor degree is usually required. It is possible to qualify for some jobs by on the job training and education programs. A bachelor degree program in laboratory science includes courses in chemistry, microbiology, mathematics, and life science. The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences accredits more than 479 programs across the country.

Some states require for the clinical technologist to be licensed and registered. The requirements just vary according to the state. Employers prefer to hire someone with certification from a professional association. In addition, employers want clinical laboratory technologists and technicians with excellent analytical skills. These professionals must be able to work under pressure and solve problems accurately and efficiently. The lab position requires someone that is emotionally stable and able to handle strong odors and sights.

Advancement is possible when the person has the education and experience. Clinical technologists and technicians can advance to clinical managers over large laboratories. The possibilities are plentiful when the person has the right skills and education.


Employment is expected to grow in the next ten years. The large population of senior adults in the U.S. make a greater burden on the current medical facilities. In 2008, clinical technologists and technicians held more than 328,000 jobs in the U.S. More than 50% of the jobs are in hospitals, and the remaining half are in laboratories and medial facilities across the U.S. There will be jobs in other clinics and ambulatory centers around the country. In addition, law enforcement and governmental agencies will employ clinical technologists.*

*According to the BLS,

Job Outlook

Rapid job growth is expected in the next decade. The growing populations of elderly make the demand greater for clinical technologists and technicians. These patients will require more tests and procedures. Job vacancies are expected to increase by as much as 14% in the next decade. New technology creates the need for people to be continually trained on these new technologies. Research and development increases the need for more skilled technicians in specific areas. The technologists still perform the more complex tasks, while the technicians perform more of the preparation and examination of specimens.*

*According to the BLS,


According to surveys done in 2008, the median salary for a clinical technologist is $52,000 per year. The middle range of professionals in clinical technology earned between $46,000 to $63,000. The lowest earners in this profession made around $36,000. The highest paid people in this profession made more than $74,000.*

*According to the BLS,

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