Laboratory technicians are scientific professionals that deal with laboratory-based activities, which usually include sampling, measuring, testing, recording and analyzing test results from biological, physical, chemical life sciences. Their jobs is geared towards maintaining the functionality of the laboratory, whichever kind it is, and provide technical support to keep it secured and effective while performing procedures and observing safety guidelines.
Lab techs handle fundamental tests and are also indispensible members in the scientific team. These tests pave ways for the improvement of medicine and science, as well as help directly in the diagnosis of patients in relation to health care services.
In order to become a laboratory technician, applicants should earn a bachelor’s degree with a major in medical technology or one of the life sciences. This program is available at various community colleges, hospitals, vocational or technical schools, or even at the army. In the United Sates, around 479 programs for medical and clinical laboratory technicians, and other similar programs like programs for histotechnologists, cytogenetic technologists and molecular scientists, are accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science (NAACLS).
The courses covered in this program usually include chemistry, biological sciences, math and statistics, microbiology, and other relevant skills training that may be performed in a clinical laboratory. Aside from the formal training, some lab techs can still work even with just a combination of education and on-the-job training given by their employers. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act however requires laboratory techs to earn an associate degree if ever they will perform highly complex tests.
Lab techs have the freedom to get certified as licensed laboratory technicians. To be eligible for licensing, lab techs need to have at least a bachelor’s degree and pass the required exams. Associations that offer certification include the American Medical Technologists, the Board of Registry of the American Association of Bioanalysts, the Board of Registry of the American Society for Clinical Pathology, and the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel. Each organization has varied requirements and application procedures so applicants should first know about them.
However, the need for certification is different from state to state, as some places require licensed personnel while others do not. Then again, having a certification will always be an advantage compared to another who has none.
Technicians can choose to advance in their careers and become technologists. This can be done through additional education and experience. Usually, having been certified and earning a degree hastens the process. Specialization courses are offered by many organizations if applicants are interested in focusing their career on a specialty area. With the right training and qualifications, laboratory technicians can even rise to supervisory positions and become chief laboratory technicians and managers.