What Does a Medical Lab Tech Do?

A medical lab tech is responsible for performing tests on patients’ samples. These tests help doctors diagnose and treat patients.

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Job Description

A medical laboratory technologist (medical lab tech) is a health care professional who performs chemical, hematological, immunologic, histopathological, and microbiological tests on body fluids such as blood, urine, and tissue samples. Medical lab techs work in hospitals, reference laboratories, and biotechnology companies.


A medical laboratory technologist (MLT) is a professional who performs medical laboratory tests. These tests help doctors diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Medical laboratory technologists work in all areas of the lab, including blood banking, immunology, chemistry, microbiology, and hematology.

In larger labs, MLTs may specialize in one area. In smaller labs, they may be needed to do a variety of tests. No matter what their specialty, all MLTs must be able to perform all the basic duties of the job.

Basic duties include:
-Collecting and preparing samples for testing
-Conducting routine tests
-Recording and storing test results
-Maintaining lab equipment
-Ordering supplies
-Supervising lab technicians


In order to perform their job duties effectively, medical lab technicians must have certain skills. These skills include:

-Analytical skills: Medical lab technicians must be able to understand and follow complex written and verbal instructions. They must also be able to pay attention to detail in order to accurately collect and analyze samples.

-Interpersonal skills: Medical lab technicians must be able to work well with others. They may need to interact with patients, doctors, and other medical staff on a daily basis.

-Organizational skills: Medical lab technicians must be able to keep track of multiple tasks and prioritize them accordingly. They may need to coordinate the work of other medical staff members in order to complete their tasks.

-Physical stamina: Medical lab technicians may need to stand for long periods of time and perform repetitive motions. They may also need to lift and carry heavy equipment.

Education and Training

A medical lab tech is responsible for running tests on patients’ blood and body fluids. They collect these samples and then analyze them to help doctors diagnose and treat various conditions. In order to become a medical lab tech, you will need to complete a formal education and training program.


An aspiring medical lab technician typically needs to earn an Associate’s degree in medical laboratory technology. Some community colleges, universities, and vocational-technical schools offer this type of program. Programs typically take 2 years to complete, although some students may be able to complete their studies in as little as 18 months.

Degree Options

There are undergraduate and graduate programs that can lead to a career as a medical lab technician.

An undergraduate program typically leads to an Associate of Science (A.S.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in medical laboratory science, which usually takes two to four years to complete. These programs often include clinical rotations in laboratories at hospitals or other healthcare facilities, giving students first-hand experience working with patients and producing results that contribute to diagnoses.

Graduate programs in medical laboratory science typically lead to a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree and usually take two to three years to complete. These programs prepare students for careers in research, teaching, or management in clinical laboratories. Some graduate programs offer dual degrees that combine medical laboratory science with another field such as business administration or public health.


All medical laboratory technicians must complete a postsecondary educational program in medical laboratory technology. These programs are available at many community colleges, technical schools, and 4-year colleges and universities. Some programs take as little as a year to complete, but most take 2 years. Many 4-year colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in medical laboratory science. These programs take 4 years to complete and include classroom instruction and hands-on experience in the laboratory.

Most States require licensure for medical laboratory technicians. To be licensed, technicians must pass a written exam. Some States have additional requirements, such as passing an oral or practical exam, completing a certain amount of continuing education credits, or both.

Employment Outlook

The medical laboratory technologist is a professional who works under the supervision of a licensed physician. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private laboratories, and blood banks. As a medical lab tech, your duties will include performing and interpreting laboratory tests that are used to diagnose and treat disease.

Job Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for medical and clinical laboratory technicians is expected to be 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The aging population is fueling the demand for technicians, as older adults are more likely to have chronic conditions that require diagnostic testing. New advances in diagnostic testing are also increasing the demand for technicians.

Salary Information

In May 2019, the median annual wage for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $51,770. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,100.

Career Paths

A medical lab tech is a health care professional who works in a clinical laboratory and performs tests on patients’ samples. There are many different types of medical lab techs, and they may specialize in a particular area of the laboratory, such as microbiology or blood banking.

Advancement Opportunities

Medical lab techs may find opportunities to move into management positions, or to branch out into other areas of healthcare. With additional education and training, they may become medical technologists or directors of clinical laboratories. Some may also choose to become teachers or researchers in the field.

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