Clinical Laboratory Technician

Overview

Clinical laboratory technicians perform tests that play a vital role in the detection, diagnosis, treatment and management of disease. Working under the supervision of lab technologists or laboratory managers, technicians perform routine laboratory tests to examine and analyze body fluids and cells. They prepare specimens and operate automated analyzers. They also perform manual tests in accordance with detailed instructions. Technicians generally perform less complex tests and laboratory procedures than clinical laboratory technologists. Like technologists, technicians may work in several areas of the clinical laboratory or specialize in just one.

Details

Potential Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories
  • Physician offices
  • Outpatient care centers

Work Environment

 

Lab personnel are trained to work with infectious specimens.  With strict adherence to proper methods of infection control and sterilization, few hazards exist.  Protective eyewear, masks, gloves and gowns are often necessary to ensure the safety of lab personnel.  Lab technicians may spend a good deal of time on their feet.

Work schedules will vary depending on the employment setting.  Large hospitals and independent labs that operate round the clock will have corresponding shifts.  Lab personnel may have schedules that require some on-call, weekend, or holiday shifts.  Those working in physician offices will generally have daytime, weekday work schedules.

Job Outlook

Employment of clinical laboratory technicians is expected to increase 14 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. The volume of laboratory tests is expected to increase with population growth, the growing elderly population, the development of new tests, and healthcare reform which is expected to increase the number of people accessing healthcare.  Job opportunities are expected to be excellent because the number of job openings is expected to continue to exceed the number of job seekers.

Aptitudes

  • Ability to perform standard laboratory procedures
  • Ability to follow detailed directions and pay close attention to detail
  • Good analytic judgment
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as with others
  • High level of integrity and responsibility
  • Good organizational skills
  • Good computer skills
  • Manual dexterity and normal color vision

Education

Requirements

A 2-year Associate Degree is required for clinical laboratory technicians/medical laboratory technicians (CLT/MLT).  Technicians can advance to become technologists through additional education and experience.

Certification is preferred by most employers and requires completion of an accredited associate degree program and passing a national examination.  Nebraska does not require licensing, but some states do.  Information is available from State departments or boards of occupational licensing.

Programs in Nebraska

Related / Links

Other careers that analyze body fluids, cells or tissue:

Professional Associations

For a list of accredited and approved NAACLS programs for clinical laboratory personnel:

For additional career information and certification:

 

Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Radiation Technologists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov