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What You Need to Know About Medical Lab Technician Career

If you are looking for a career in the health care sector that does not require direct and constant patient care. You may want to consider becoming a Medical Laboratory Technician. You may have never heard of it because it is not always the most well-known career path.

We are aware of the doctors, nurses, surgeons, and the like roles and their contribution to our health recovery. Many children aspire to these familiar professions. The career of a medical lab technician is not always the most-discussed or understood.

A Medical Lab Technician’s career allows you to involve yourself in the medical field’s science and technology aspects. You will be helping patients in the process of diagnosing and treating patients without involvement in direct care

Because the medical lab technician career path is not discussed very often, it can be tricky to learn. You’ll likely have plenty of burning questions. We prepared this blog to discuss medical lab technician’s roles and how you can set yourself up to become one.

Who is a Medical Laboratory Technician?

Medical laboratory technicians are the healthcare personnel who use lab equipment and test procedures to perform complex analytical tests on samples collected from the patient. The workplace of a medical lab technician is in a diagnostic laboratory, clinic and hospital laboratory.

In there, they usually work under the supervision of physicians, lab technologists and laboratory managers. Medical lab techs work in a laboratory setting, and the job descriptions are enormous. They help to conduct experiments, pieces of lab equipment, record results and data and much more.

 

Lab Technologist vs Lab Technician

Medical laboratory technologists and laboratory technicians are the related professions, and they are easily confused by the general populace. However, the educational preparation and duties for these two jobs are quite different.

To become or work as a medical lab technologist, you must have a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, technicians only need a diploma degree to become MLTs. The technologist has more training and theoretical knowledge than the technicians.

The job description of a technician is to collect, process and analyse samples. They also need to perform lab processes and maintain instruments. A technologist must have the same skills, as well as evaluate and interpret challenging results, conduct research, develop new laboratory methods and techniques, and supervise medical lab technicians.

  Lab Technicians vs Tab Technologists

 

Lab TechniciansLab Technologists
Need a bachelor’s degree or diploma certification.Must need a bachelor’s degree.
Work and perform  lab tests under the supervision of lab technologists and other medical personnel.Have a supervisory and authoritative role in laboratories.

What Role Does a Medical Lab Technician Play in the Healthcare Field?

Medical lab technicians’ work is very important; hospitals and doctors’ offices rely on their lab work to perform lab tests on the samples. These professionals are an essential component of a well-functioning healthcare facility. They generally work under the supervision of a physician, lab director or lab technologists. The work behind the scenes, and helps doctors identify and diagnose disease or illness and determine treatment options.

We don’t see them in action or may not frequently have contact with a medical lab technician as a patient. However, it doesn’t indicate that they don’t play a crucial role in your medical care treatment. If you encounter a medical lab technician, they will probably be wearing a full lab coat, mask, gloves and goggles. And they are collecting and handling specimens and taking samples for testing.

Now let’s get into more specific job duties and responsibilities of MLTs.

Responsibilities and Duties of a Medical Lab Technician

Medical laboratory technicians perform all kinds of laboratory tests and procedures. They run bacteriological, haematological, microscopic, immunologic and chemical diagnostic tests. And they also run analyses on samples of blood, urine, tissue, stool, semen and synovial fluid, among others.

They look for critical clues of various diseases through accurate and efficient lab tests. The physicians and other specialists use the results they depict from tests to make appropriate diagnostic and treatment plans.

Medical laboratory technician’s other duties and responsibilities include:

  • Send test results at the request of a physician.
  • Set up and sanitise the lab.
  • Collect, prepare and store samples in the lab.
  • Explain lab testing procedures to patients and other clients.
  • Running standard, controlled and verified equipment.
  • Maintain a clean and safe working environment.
  • Alert supervisory personnel if any unwanted patient conditions occur.
  • Maintain quality results.
  • Scan immune system elements.
  • Alert supervisory personnel if any unwanted patient conditions occur.
  • Keep all the patient and laboratory information confidential

What is the Specialised Job Field for Medical Lab Technicians?

Medical lab technicians may specialise in a laboratory area or work in different areas. Each field of MLT is extremely important, and many responsibilities are similar in several laboratory jobs. Medical lab technicians carry out a range of lab tests to assist doctors in diagnosing and treating disease. Their work is practical and analytical, and it is highly diverse than any other healthcare profession.

However, the study, skills and research are different from each other for becoming a medical lab technician in several sectors. You can choose the right career for yourself based on your personal interests. Common specialised job field of medical lab technicians are the following-

  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Dental Lab Assistant
  • Haematology
  • Cytogenetic Technician
  • Histotechnician
  • Nuclear Medicine Technician

What Skills Do You Need to Have?

To work as a medical lab technician, you will need to have:

  • The ability to learn continuously. You have to learn specific, practical techniques and apply this knowledge to solve technical problems.
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination to use lab equipment with accuracy.
  • The ability to maintain and calibrate technical equipment
  • A proper time management skill to work on several different projects at once
  • Flexible to work with and provide support for several people
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills to work effectively with colleagues from all parts of the institute. And also, it helps you to explain complex techniques to interested personnel or patients.
  • Experience in providing demonstrations and writing technical reports
  • Good teamwork skill and patience
  • Meticulous attention to details.

You will also need basic maths and computing and also excellent record-keeping skills. As you progress through your career, you may also need to develop management and leadership skills.

How Long a Medical Lab Technician Work?

Well, the hardest and coldest part of this line of work is working hours. A medical lab technician has to work 38-40 hours a week. The saddest thing is that it does not end there because MLTs need to work extra time now and then in this pandemic.

The work is pretty exciting, so don’t worry about the long working hours.

How Much Money a Medical Lab Technician Earn?

According to the Current labour market and NHS, a medical lab technician’s starting salary in the UK is around £15,000 a year.

As your experience grows, so will your salary, an experienced lab technician can earn up to £25,000. Once you are highly skilled, you can earn £30,000 or more, depending on your employers.

Your starting salary may vary due to factors such as level of experience, training or location. As you build skills, knowledge and experience, your salary as a laboratory technician will increase over time.

Is it the Right Career for You?

It is essential that a person should do a job that fulfils their desire and needs. As with other long-term and skills-based careers, it is vital to match the right candidates with the right roles. The right job ensures long-term success and engagement in any profession.

The career of a Medical Lab Technician is suitable for a person who is compassionate, interested in helping others and succeeds in a fast-paced environment. The most important thing in this line of work is to respect the privacy of the patient and to maintain the integrity of specific scientific methods.

It would be best if you asked yourself these following questions. Be honest when answering these questions.

  • Do you want it? 
  • Can you handle the stress level and fast-paced environment of the career?
  • Are you the person who thrives for new experiences?
  • Do you have the empathy and the will to help others?
  • Are you good at data analysis? 
  • Do you not like to work in the spotlight? 
  • Are you okay with the stinky medicinal smells in the lab? 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Lab Technician?

Let’s assume you have already got your high school diploma with the necessary credits. The associate’s degree requires two-year to become a Medical Lab Technician. The degree/diploma program offers flexible scheduling to meet the demands of busy lifestyles.

A full-time student can complete the associate’s degree program in about 18 months that covers all the requirements needed to find a job.

Steps to Becoming a Medical Lab Technician

The medical lab technician profession is an exciting, scientific and clinical role in healthcare. After earning a diploma or a bachelor’s degree, a medical lab technician can choose from various career paths, certifications, and even continuing education opportunities for future career advancement.

To become a medical lab technician is easier than you think. There are several ways you can earn your diploma degree; you can get into this profession through

  • A university degree
  • A college course/ online diploma
  • An apprenticeship

If you are interested in becoming a Medical Lab Technician, read the steps below to learn how to become one.

Step 1: Get the necessary Courses

To become a medical lab technician, it is crucial that you need to have a diploma course or relevant degree. There are also specific areas of focus that can be completed through the coursework. A diploma/ university degree can help you develop a solid foundation for becoming a medical lab technician. You can get into this profession either of the following ways:

  • A University Course
  • A College Course/ Online Diploma
  • An Apprenticeship

Through a University Course​

The universities in the UK offer foundation degree or higher national diploma or degree courses. To become a medical laboratory technician, you can do a degree/ diploma course in biology, chemistry, physics, and forensic science.

Entry Requirements:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 3 ‘A’ levels or equal.

Through a College Course

You can improve your chances of getting a job if you take a college course such as a Level 2 Certificate or Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science. Scoring A level grade in science subjects like chemistry, biology, and physics will also help you. 

Entry Requirements:

  • For a level 2 course: 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent for a level 2 course
  • For a level 3 course: 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent for a level 3 course

Through an apprenticeship

An apprenticeship programme could be another alternative for becoming a medical lab technician. You could enter this job by taking an advanced apprenticeship in any medical laboratory as a medical laboratory assistant. An advanced apprenticeship will make it easier for you to get into the healthcare sector.

Entry Requirements:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent subject including English, maths, and science.

Step 2: Get a license

The next step for you to get a license from the authority. Not all laboratories look for licensed medical lab technicians, but some states and employers may require the license. So why are you going to narrow down your job opportunities? You can get a license from the relevant authorities of your country to stay in a safe area.

Step 3: Seek employment and obtain a job

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are various medical and research facilities that require professional MLTs. Medical lab technicians’ jobs are found in hospitals, doctors’ offices, specialised clinics, and medical labs.

These are the most common places to look for a job as a medical lab technician. You can also find a job in universities, ambulatory care facilities, research labs, blood banks, and pharmaceutical manufacturers as part of their day to day operations.

The job description of MLTs is to provide lab support, which is almost the same in every organisation. However, the range of responsibilities may vary from between the facilities.

The good news is that you don’t need to look for a job most of the time when you graduate. Employment is secured through an internship or practical work experience. Other career support services can be helpful in finding the right job even after graduation.

Step 4: Continue your education and advance your career

As a medical lab technician, your career path does not necessarily end after graduating and getting a job. There are specific specialisations and certifications that you can acquire after gaining the necessary work experience.

Working for a few years will also help you decide which areas of the field interest you most. From there, you can choose which direction you want to advance your career.

Most people decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a more specialised area, such as chemistry, microbiology, or management. Advanced education in these above subjects can provide more opportunities within various organisations.

A potential career path after obtaining a bachelor’s degree can be found in research, product development and administration or management position.

To become a Medical Lab Scientist or Technologist, you must have a bachelor’s degree in the subjects mentioned above to meet this position’s requirements.

Whether you have a bachelor’s degree or not, you have to keep up with the new technology, testing practices procedures, and medical laboratories equipment as they tend to evolve quickly. You will find that it is essential to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing medical field.

Medical Lab Technician Course

Discover what it takes to work in a medical lab with this Medical Lab Technician Course.

Medical Lab Technician Course

Discover what it takes to work in a medical lab with this Medical Lab Technician Course.

How to Get a Job as a Medical Lab Technician?

After you have your diploma or a bachelor’s degree, you will have the necessary skills and education required to obtain employment in a professional medical lab setting.

Jobs in the medical field are in high demand, especially as medical lab technicians. Healthcare continues to be a growing field requiring highly-skilled professionals to meet the ever-increasing population’s diverse needs. The necessary steps to get a job are the following.

Step 1: Gain Work Experience

The experience gained in the medical lab technician program can lead to direct placement with an employer through practical work experience and potential internship experience.

Employers value pre-entry experience in a laboratory. Because an internship demonstrates your familiarity with lab procedures and shows your commitment and interest in the field. There is a placement year with some degrees, which can be an excellent opportunity to see what the working environment in the sector is like.

If your degree doesn’t include a year internship period, you can gain some experience through part-time or voluntary work in a laboratory or scientific setting. You can contact employers to see if it is possible to shadow someone’s work in their organisation.

Step 2: Keep Up with the Developments of this Field

It is also helpful to stay up to date with the latest developments in the sector. Keeping up with the recent development of tech equipment and procedures will help you land your desired job and gain knowledge.

You can get a membership or access to useful resources and news from relevant organisations, such as:

Step 3: Know your Employers

Jobs in the medical field are in high demand, especially as medical lab technicians. There are a lot of public and private organisations in the UK that employ scientific laboratory technicians. The typical employer of medical lab technicians are the following:

  • hospitals and public health organisations
  • specific government departments and agencies or government-funded research institutions
  • environmental agencies
  • utility companies
  • research and forensic science institutions
  • food manufacturing companies
  • large public limited companies in the industry in areas such as cosmetics, textiles, metal, oil and plastic
  • pharmaceutical and chemical companies.

Step 4: Know the Type of Medical Lab Technician Jobs

It can be tricky to find a job if you don’t know what to look for, when you are looking for a job because laboratory technician jobs are advertised under different job titles. When you’re looking on job boards for medical lab technicians, look for the following types of employment:

  • Laboratory technician apprenticeship
  • Laboratory technician
  • Lab technician
  • Junior laboratory technician
  • Assistant laboratory technician
  • Laboratory support technician
  • Graduate laboratory technician

Step 5: Find Job in Job Recruiting Sites

Now that you are a graduate medical lab technician and also have the required knowledge, skills and certificates to find your desired job. The next step is to know where you can find jobs related to this field. You can look for job vacancies at:

Sometimes recruitment agencies handle vacancies for different organisations.

What are the Medical lab technicians career prospects?

As like other professions, Medical lab technicians have the opportunity to grow their career. As you become more experienced, you will take on more responsibilities and the supervision and management of a team and the laboratory.

You will carry out more complex tasks, including test analysis. You are likely to spend more time in the office than in the laboratory. You will develop your career with the following sequence:

  • Assistant technician
  • Technician
  • Senior/lead technician
  • Team leader technician
  • Laboratory manager

Conclusion

Becoming a medical lab technician is a great way to enter into the world of medical science. As of now, there are over 80,000 medical lab technicians working in the UK. The demand for MLT health care workers is rapidly growing in the medical field because of COVID-19.

To become a medical lab technician, you need to have good analytical skills, judgement skills and the ability to work under pressure and pay close attention to details. If this sounds like you, becoming a medical lab technician may be the best career option for you.

What are you waiting for? Don’t waste your time. Start the preparation right away. This field is waiting for you to take the floor. You can get started today at CourseGate!

April 15, 2021

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