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Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Technicians can advance and become technologists through additional education and experience. Technologists may advance to supervisory positions in laboratory work or may become chief medical or clinical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers in hospitals. Manufacturers of home diagnostic testing kits and laboratory equipment and supplies also seek experienced technologists to work in product development, marketing, and sales.

Professional certification and a graduate degree in medical technology, one of the biological sciences, chemistry, management, or education usually speeds advancement. A doctorate usually is needed to become a laboratory director. Federal regulation requires directors of moderately complex laboratories to have either a master's degree or a bachelor's degree, combined with the appropriate amount of training and experience.

Employment
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians held about 328,100 jobs in 2008. More than half of jobs were in hospitals. Most of the remaining jobs were in offices of physicians and in medical and diagnostic laboratories. A small proportion was in educational services and in all other ambulatory healthcare services.

Job Outlook
Rapid job growth and excellent job opportunities are expected. Most jobs will continue to be in hospitals, but employment will grow rapidly in other settings, as well.

Job Growth
Employment of clinical laboratory workers is expected to grow by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. The volume of laboratory tests continues to increase with both population growth and the development of new types of tests.

Technological advances will continue to have opposing effects on employment. On the one hand, new, increasingly powerful diagnostic tests and advances in genomics—the study of the genetic information of a cell or organism—will encourage additional testing and spur employment. On the other hand, research and development efforts targeted at simplifying and automating routine testing procedures may enhance the ability of nonlaboratory personnel—physicians and patients in particular—to perform tests now conducted in laboratories.

Although hospitals are expected to continue to be the major employer of clinical laboratory workers, employment is expected also to grow rapidly in medical and diagnostic laboratories, offices of physicians, and all other ambulatory healthcare services.

Job opportunities are expected to be excellent because the number of job openings is expected to continue to exceed the number of jobseekers. Although significant, job growth will not be the only source of opportunities. As in most occupations, many additional openings will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or stop working for some other reason. Willingness to relocate will further enhance one’s job prospects.

Earnings
Median annual wages of medical and clinical laboratory technologists were $53,500 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $44,560 and $63,420. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,180, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,680.

Median annual wages of medical and clinical laboratory technicians were $35,380 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $28,420 and $44,310. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $53,520.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Biomedical Science
Biomedicians are typically active in biomedical research and tend to have more limited and research oriented contact with patients than physicians. Biomedical scientists study disease, drugs, and other topics related to human health. Their role is to develop or improve treatments, vaccines, equipment, ...more