Benefits and How to Get Started as a Lab Tech
Laboratory technicians are an essential part of the healthcare system. While patients may rarely see them, their behind the scenes work is vital. Read on to learn about what lab techs do, how to get started, and the benefits of becoming a laboratory technician.
What Do Lab Techs Do?
Lab techs work behind the scenes, helping doctors detect diseases or illnesses and determine treatment options. When a patient is ill, blood and tissue cells can be tested to reveal what is afflicting them or whether a treatment is working. Laboratory techs perform a variety of tests on samples collected from patients. They work closely with microscopes and other advanced lab equipment to perform the tests and record the results. Physicians will then interpret the results of the tests. These tests help assess the chemical analysis of bodily fluids and the accuracy of them is essential so that patients receive effective medical care.
Laboratory technicians work closely with physicians, lab managers, lab technologists, and other technicians. They may also work directly under a head tech, or if working at a smaller facility, they may be the sole technician. Rarely will you be interacting with patients. In addition to running tests, lab techs also work to set up, maintain, calibrate, clean and test the lab equipment’s sterility. You may also find yourself preparing solutions of reagents that will be combined with samples, as well as collecting blood, tissue, or other samples from patients.
Job Requirements and Skills
Laboratory techs must have precise technical skills as well as close attention to detail. You’ll work closely with laboratory equipment and must have the expertise to work with, calibrate, and maintain this equipment. High attention to detail is crucial for accurately recording test results. It’s also beneficial to be skilled in data entry, quality assurance, troubleshooting, and teamwork as you’ll work closely with other techs and physicians, and occasionally customer care.
Lab techs need a firm understanding of many specific medical procedures and protocols, and depending on their workplace, they may need to specialize. Some hard skills you may need to thrive as a medical laboratory technician are chemistry, phlebotomy, specimen collection, laboratory testing, analyzing bodily fluids, studying samples, and operating sophisticated lab equipment.
Lab technicians typically need at least a two-year associate degree as well as passing a national certification exam. In many states, you may be required to obtain licensure. If you’re looking to specialize, you may need to obtain your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Laboratory Sciences, which will also help increase your earning potential. As a technician, you’ll also need specific training such as learning company methods, report preparation, and waste disposal, among others, most of which will be on the job training or at scientific seminars and conferences. Two certifications you can acquire are the Medical Lab Technician certification, which demonstrates your ability and requires an extensive training course to earn it, and the Medical Laboratory Scientist certification, which shows that you can perform at a higher level of responsibility in the lab. The Medical Laboratory Scientist certification requires a bachelor’s degree and prior lab experience.
Salaries for medical lab technicians in Phoenix, AZ, is $41,578. The typical range is between $48,301 and $58,901 as of November 25, 2020. Your salary can range depending on factors such as education, certification, and experience.
If you love analyzing data and working behind the scenes, then working as a laboratory technician could be an ideal fit. As a lab tech, you typically won’t need to work directly with patients, so if you don’t enjoy customer care, this is a good position for you! You will need some communication skills for working with your team, however.
You can also become a laboratory technician with a two-year degree instead of four but may opt for the four-year route if you prefer to work in a more specialized area. Many lab technicians work in hospitals, but you can also work in small labs, clinics, long-term care facilities, research facilities, doctor’s offices, and more. Additionally, depending on where you work, you might have the option to select a schedule that fits your needs, working either days, nights, or weekends.
How to Apply for Lab Technician Positions
At Desert Medical Careers, we have years of connections with facilities where we’ve placed hundreds of individuals looking for medical positions. We help to review your resume, ensuring it matches what medical facilities are looking for. Desert Medical Careers provides interview tips based on our experience placing hundreds of applicants in laboratory technician positions.
If you’d like to be placed in a laboratory technician position, contact Desert Medical Careers at (602) 468-6300 or fill out the form below to get contacted by a DMC expert.