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Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Summary

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Quick Facts: Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians
2023 Median Pay $60,780 per year
$29.22 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 342,900
Job Outlook, 2022-32 5% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 16,800

What Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians Do

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians perform medical laboratory tests for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Work Environment

Most clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, medical and diagnostic laboratories, and doctor’s offices. Most work full time.

How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Technologist or Technician

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Technicians sometimes qualify for jobs with an associate’s degree. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $60,780 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 24,000 openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about clinical laboratory technologists and technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians Do About this section

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians operate laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and cell counters.

Clinical laboratory technologists (also known as medical laboratory scientists) and clinical laboratory technicians (also known as medical laboratory technicians) perform medical laboratory tests for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Duties

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Test and analyze body fluids, such as blood, urine, and tissue samples
  • Operate laboratory equipment, such as microscopes and automated cell counters
  • Use automated equipment that analyzes multiple samples at the same time
  • Record data from medical tests and enter results into a patient’s medical record
  • Discuss results and findings of laboratory tests and procedures with physicians

Both technicians and technologists perform tests and procedures that physicians and surgeons or other healthcare practitioners order. However, technologists perform more complex tests and laboratory procedures than technicians do. For example, technologists may prepare specimens and perform detailed manual tests, whereas technicians perform routine tests that may be more automated. Clinical laboratory technicians usually work under the general supervision of clinical laboratory technologists or laboratory managers.

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians set up, calibrate, and maintain the microscopes, cell counters, and other equipment they use. Maintenance includes troubleshooting, cleaning, and testing sterility to ensure quality control. Technologists have more responsibilities related to overall quality assurance in laboratories than do technicians.

Some technologists specialize in a certain type of test. The following are examples of types of specialized clinical laboratory technologists:

Blood bank technologists collect blood, classify it by type, and prepare blood and its components for transfusions.

Clinical chemistry technologists prepare specimens and analyze the chemical and hormonal contents of body fluids.

Cytotechnologists prepare and examine slides of body cells under a microscope. They look for abnormalities that may signal the beginning of a cancerous growth.

Hematology technologists examine blood to identify conditions or diseases, such as blood clots or cancer.

Histotechnologists perform tests on human tissue to identify diseases.

Microbiology technologists examine and identify bacteria and other microorganisms.

Molecular biology technologists perform protein and nucleic acid tests, such as gene sequencing, on cell samples.

Like technologists, clinical laboratory technicians may work in several areas or specialize in one area. For example, histotechnicians are a type of clinical laboratory technician who cut and stain tissue specimens for pathologists—doctors who study the cause and development of diseases.

Work Environment About this section

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
Laboratory personnel wear protective masks, gloves, and goggles to ensure their safety.

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians held about 342,900 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians were as follows:

General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 44%
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 21
Offices of physicians 9
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 5
Outpatient care centers 3

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work with infectious specimens and other biohazardous substances.

Technologists and technicians may need to stand for long periods.

Injuries and Illnesses

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians may incur injury or illness on the job. For example, they may be subject to repetitive motion injuries because they do the same tasks repeatedly or to illness from working with biohazardous material. To reduce the risk of infection, they follow laboratory safety protocol and wear protective masks, gloves, and goggles.

Work Schedules

Most clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work full time. Because they may work in medical facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, they may have shifts that include nights, weekends, or holidays.

How to Become a Clinical Laboratory Technologist or Technician About this section

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
Clinical laboratory technologists typically need a bachelor’s degree.

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. Technicians sometimes qualify for jobs with an associate’s degree. Some states require technologists and technicians to be licensed. Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have certification.

Education

High school students who are interested in becoming a clinical laboratory technologist or technician should take classes in chemistry, biology, and math.

Clinical laboratory technologists typically earn a bachelor's degree in medical technology or a related life sciences field, such as biology or chemistry.

Bachelor’s degree programs in medical laboratory technology, also known as a medical laboratory scientist degree, include courses in chemistry, biology, and hematology. Accredited programs typically include instruction in laboratory skills, such as safety procedures and lab management, as well as hands-on training in a hospital or other clinical setting. Some laboratory science programs can be completed in 2 years or less and require prior college coursework or a bachelor’s degree.

Clinical laboratory technicians typically complete an associate's degree program in clinical laboratory science. The Armed Forces and vocational or technical schools also may offer postsecondary certificate programs for medical laboratory technicians. Accredited technician programs provide skills in basic laboratory testing and, like medical laboratory scientist degree programs, may offer clinical experience.

Certain types of technologists, such as cytotechnologists, must attend specialized education programs.

For a list of accredited bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs, visit organizations such as the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require laboratory personnel to be licensed or registered. Requirements vary by state and specialty. For specific requirements, contact your state department of health or state board of occupational licensing.

In some states, licensure requires certification. Although certification is not always required to enter the occupation, employers may prefer to hire certified technologists and technicians.

Individuals may earn certification as a medical laboratory scientist or medical laboratory technician. Completion of an accredited education program is typically required to sit for a certification exam. A number of organizations offer certification, including the American Association of Bioanalysts, American Medical Technologists, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Specialty certification is available in areas such as histology and clinical chemistry for those who meet requirements for additional education and work experience.

Advancement

Some clinical laboratory technicians advance to technologist positions after gaining experience and additional education.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians must examine the specimens they test to determine whether there are abnormalities.

Detail oriented. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians must follow instructions and laboratory procedures when performing tests.

Dexterity. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians must work carefully when handling needles, specimens, and laboratory equipment.

Interpersonal skills. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians may collect blood or tissue samples from patients who feel stressed. They must be supportive and sympathetic in their interactions with patients.

Physical stamina. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians may stand for long periods while collecting samples. They may need to lift or turn patients to collect samples for testing.

Pay About this section

Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2023

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

$60,780

Health technologists and technicians

$51,250

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians was $60,780 in May 2023. 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 $36,770, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $93,900.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Outpatient care centers $67,590
General medical and surgical hospitals; state, local, and private 64,680
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 58,290
Medical and diagnostic laboratories 58,140
Offices of physicians 51,870

Most clinical laboratory technologists and technicians work full time. Because technologists and technicians may work in facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, they may have shifts that include nights, weekends, or holidays.

Job Outlook About this section

Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Health technologists and technicians

7%

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

5%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 24,000 openings for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

An increase in the population of older adults is expected to lead to a greater need for diagnosing medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, through laboratory procedures. Prenatal testing for various types of genetic conditions also is increasingly common. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians will be in demand to use and maintain the equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment.

Employment projections data for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

29-2010 342,900 359,700 5 16,800 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Biological technicians Biological Technicians

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

Bachelor's degree $51,430
Chemical technicians Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians conduct laboratory tests to help scientists analyze the properties of materials.

Associate's degree $56,750
Chemists and materials scientists Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists research and analyze the chemical properties of substances to develop new materials, products, or knowledge.

Bachelor's degree $87,180
phlebotomists image Phlebotomists

Phlebotomists draw blood for tests, transfusions, research, or blood donations.

Postsecondary nondegree award $41,810
Veterinary technologists and technicians Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Veterinary technologists and technicians do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.

Associate's degree $43,740
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/clinical-laboratory-technologists-and-technicians.htm (visited July 07, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.