Medical or clinical laboratory technicians are in charge of a wide range of tasks such as evaluating and assessing pollution levels, setting up investigations or experiments, collecting samples, preparing cultures or solutions, recording gathered data, ensuring the cleanliness and efficiency of equipment in the laboratory and undertaking risk assessment for any laboratory activities. Entry-level lab technicians work with a team of scientists while experienced once may be tasked to supervise technicians that are new in the job.
Clinical Laboratory Technician Salary in the US
A large percentage of laboratory technicians take full-time work schedules, and they are employed in healthcare facilities including laboratories and hospitals. With the great demands in their job, these professionals may be required to work on evening shift, overnight, or even on weekends.
As of March 2014, the average salary of clinical laboratory technicians in the United States was between $24,988 and $49,406. However, senior technicians who have over 10 years of experience in the job earn much higher, as well as those who have more credentials from extensive training and further education.
Pay Scale in Different Parts of the United States
Although the national average income of clinical laboratory technicians in the United States can go as high as $49,000, the amount may vary from one state to another. The location has a great impact on the salary received by these professionals including their educational background, work experience, and industry where they are employed.
Based on the March 2014 report by Payscale.com, medical laboratory technicians in selected cities in the country earn more such as the following:
New York – $39,000
Boston – $39,000
Richmond – $38,000
Houston – $ 38,000
Birmingham – $37,000
Seattle – $37,000
Chicago – $37,000
Senior technicians, particularly those who specialize in microbiology, hematology, and chemistry earn much higher than those who have less years of work experience and lack these skills required in the job.
Job Description of a Clinical Laboratory Technician
Clinical laboratory technicians are tasked to perform routine medical lab tests, and they are in charge of studying blood, tissue and urine samples that were collected. In addition, they must know how to operate essential laboratory equipment such as cell counters and microscopes, so they can evaluate these samples and record any findings. It is also important to note that laboratory technicians work closely under the guidance of a laboratory manager or lab technologist.
Lab technicians are also expected to utilize automated equipment that will allow them to perform several tests at once. After they have conducted tests to patients, they must log in data into the medical record for future references. This way, they can always refer to these accurate data as they discuss the lab test findings with the attending physicians.
How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Technician
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Generally, aspiring lab technicians can pursue this career, as long as they hold a post-secondary certificate or an associate’s degree. Upon completion of a degree in clinical laboratory science, as well as another medical field related to this profession, they may pursue a certificate program for one year. These professionals may also apply for a certification form the Armed Forces or any technical schools in the country. Certificate programs intended for these lab technicians involve a coursework that target the practical and theoretical aspects of the different laboratory disciplines.
Aside from taking related programs, a lab technician should possess essential skills that they could use for the job. For instance, they should know how to utilize technology or complicated lab tools and equipment in performing diagnostic tests or analyzing collected samples. It is also important that these professionals are capable of following instructions provided by the supervising physician or lab technologist in an accurate manner. By doing so, they can perform the test in an appropriate manner.
Since they will be working for long periods in a laboratory as they collect samples, lab technicians should be physically fit and capable of working on their feet for hours. In some cases, they may need to lift disabled patients as they collect some samples for diagnostic tests.
Lastly, medical lab technicians should be skillful in handling delicate laboratory instruments such as needles. By being capable of manipulating these tools properly, they can avoid any injuries on themselves or the patients.
Most clinical laboratory technicians can get a job even without a license, yet there are some industries that only employ registered or licensed lab personnel. For those who wish to apply for a license, they should first obtain a bachelor’s degree, take and pass relevant exam included in the program. Keep in mind that license requirements vary from one state to another, so it may help to contact the board of occupational licensing on the state where they plan to find employment.
A clinical lab technician can receive as general certification based on the specialty such as medical biology. There are credentialing organizations that require technicians to accomplish an education program accredited by the state before they can take an exam.
Clinical Laboratory Technician Salary in Canada, Australia and the UK
In Canada, the average hourly rate for a clinical laboratory technician is C$15.85. The salary increases once these professionals have accumulated about 5 to 10 years in the job. On an annual basis, the pay may range between C$25,073 and C$53,552. Top-paying cities in Canada include Ottawa ($38,000) and Toronto ($36,000).
As for Australia, the highest possible salary that medical lab technicians receive is AU$53, 926. This amount can still increase significantly upon gaining more years of experience in the job and continuing education or training.
Medical laboratory technicians in the United Kingdom earn a starting salary of £13,500 to a maximum of £19,000. As they reach senior level and achieved further experience in the job, they can expect an annual income of £20,000 to £25,000. When they progress to supervisory or managerial roles, their average annual wage can go as high as £30,000 to £40,000.
Conclusion on Clinical Laboratory Technician Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the salary of lab technicians to increase in the next decade considering the increasing demand for this job. Hence, pursuing this career is a practical choice because of its profitability and opportunities for career advancement in the future.