Flexibility: Medium

Social Engagement: Medium

What’s What: If you’re a science fan who values accuracy and thoroughness, the medical community needs you. Medical laboratory technicians conduct tests used by doctors and other healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat disease. They compile, categorize, code and calculate their findings to help doctors determine a diagnosis. The best medical laboratory technicians are extremely organized, crave routine, have excellent communication skills and can remain focused when multitasking. 

Amava Take: The healthcare field is generally considered a recession-proof industry and the job outlook for medical laboratory technicians is expected to have higher than average growth. If you want to play a crucial part in patient care but prefer working behind the scenes under the guidance of technologists and scientists, this could be a perfect job for you. You have probably heard that up to 80% of all doctors’ decisions are based on laboratory results. Generate them!

From the Front Lines: 

What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these positions?

Detail-oriented problem solvers with strong analytical skills.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

You’ll make mistakes in the beginning; we all did. Talk to coworkers who are efficient and stand out as good techs; they will share their insider secrets. 

What’s a typical daily schedule like?

Labs are open 24/7 including holidays. Expect shifts but the duties will vary daily. You’ll mostly work independently but in a group, analyzing specimens, data and findings to detect abnormalities or other problems. 

From the Trenches:  

What’s the most satisfying part of the job?

There is a human life behind every sample and my findings could help save someone.

How would you describe the hard parts?

Lab errors can be critical, so I really can’t lose my focus.

What is the biggest misconception about your profession?

People think lab work is sedentary but I break 10,000 steps every shift. Whether it’s retrieving supplies, communicating with other departments about a sample, or taking samples from the weigh stations to incubators, there is nearly always a reason to be on the move.

Special Requirements: There are plenty of entry level jobs that require only a high school degree and computer proficiency but 11 states require technicians to be licensed: California, Hawaii, Florida, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, Louisiana, Nevada, West Virginia, Montana, Georgia. Some jobs specifically require an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate. 

Related Classes: Introduction to the Medical Laboratory, Certificate in Infectious Diseases and Infection Control, Keys to Effective Communication, Twelve Steps to an Effective Job Search, Data Science Specialization Certificate, Machine Learning Specialization Certificate

Finding a Position: A good starting point is the American Society For Clinical Laboratory Science. It offers educational and career information as well as industry news, conferences and networking opportunities. It also has a job search engine. The American Society for Clinical Pathology has licensing exams for numerous lab positions and is also a resource for career direction, further education and job hunting. If you’re checking online or a job board, search using “entry level lab technician” or just “lab technician” (if you’re experienced) along with the city and state where you want to work. It’s also worthwhile to check the websites of labs, hospitals, doctor’s offices or universities where you would like to work; most will have a career section. Keep in mind that hospitals employ nearly 50% of all lab technicians.