wikiHow to Become a Medical Technologist

Medical technologists, also called a clinical laboratory scientists or clinical laboratory technologists, work in hospitals and medical laboratories. When a doctor takes a specimen from a patient to test for infection, cancer or other medical problems, it's the medical technologist that runs the tests and reports the results. Medical technologists don't usually work with patients directly, but they play an important role in diagnosing and treating them.


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    Prepare in high school by taking science classes such as biology and chemistry. Take computer classes, because much of the work in a medical laboratory is done by automated equipment that is controlled by computer programs. Math skills, especially statistics, are also important, so take as much math as you can.
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    Enroll in an accredited college or university and major in medical technology or clinical laboratory science. Most medical technologists earn a bachelor's degree.
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    Some people with prior experience, such as in the military, may be able to combine classroom study with work in a medical laboratory. Some hospitals offer programs in medical technology.
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    Choose a specialty if you want to. While many medical technologists don't specialize, you may be interested in a specific kind of work. In a small laboratory, a medical technologist will do a variety of tests, but in large laboratories, each will have a specific task based on a specialty.
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    For instance, a Phlebotomist specializes in collecting blood samples, and a Histologist will concentrate on cutting and staining samples so they can be tested by others.
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    Become certified and licensed, if your state requires a license. Certification assures potential employers that you are competent. The requirements for certification and licensure vary by organization and state.
    • Organizations offering certification of medical technologists include the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the American Medical Technologists, the National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel and the American Association of Bioanalysts.
    • As of 2011, states requiring licensure include: California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia and New York. Puerto Rico also requires that medical technologists be licensed.
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    Continue your education. As technology advances, you will have to learn to use new equipment and computer programs. You should also consider earning a graduate degree if you want to become a laboratory manager or director.


  • You may want to become a clinical laboratory technician, which only requires an associate's degree and in most cases, certification. You can work under the supervision of a medical technologist while you continue your education.


  • Working in a medical laboratory involves some hazards both from patient samples, which may be infected, and from the materials used to test the samples.
  • Medical technologists must be able to work independently, sometimes at night or on weekends. They must be able to problem-solve and multitask, be meticulous and organized. They are sometimes under considerable pressure, especially when a patient's life depends on fast and accurate test results.

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Categories: Health Care