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More than seven billion diagnostic medical tests are performed each year in the United States, according to the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA). These tests are often minimally invasive and relatively low cost compared to the alternatives. The results of these tests are critical to providing expedient and high-quality care to patients.
These diagnostic tests are performed by medical laboratory technicians working in hospitals, clinics, government agencies, and research centers. They perform these complicated tests on bodily fluids, tissue, and other substances to find abnormalities and assist physicians in making a diagnosis. Sometimes, medical laboratory technicians may even collect the blood samples if they have the necessary skills and training.
Typical day-to-day duties of medical laboratory technicians include:
- Preparing samples of blood, urine, tissue, and other substances for analysis
- Performing analysis according to standard procedures
- Operating sophisticated laboratory equipment including microscopes and cell counters
- Logging data from test results
- Collecting samples from patients
- Utilizing automated equipment to process samples quickly
- Communicating finding with laboratory supervisors or physicians
- Discussing lab results with other medical professionals to aid in diagnoses
Currently, there are an estimated 326,220 clinical laboratory technicians and technologists employed across the United States, according to the Bureau of Labors Statistics (BLS May 2020). The average salary for this job is $ 55,990 per year. Here is the percentile breakdown:
|Medical Lab Technicians Employed in the U.S.||326,220|
|50th Percentile (Median)||$54,180|
Certification for medical laboratory technicians is currently only required in 11 states, according to the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). While certification may be voluntary in most states, earning a certification demonstrates to employers that a candidate has achieved a high level of competence in the field. The primary certifying agencies for medical laboratory scientists are the American Medical Technologists (AMT) and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
Through the AMT, medical laboratory technicians can earn a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) certification. Candidates must meet one of the following requirements for this certification:
- Have an associate’s degree in medical laboratory technology
- Complete 60 semester hours of coursework from an accredited institution, including 25 hours in clinical laboratory science
- Complete a 50-week military medical laboratory training program
- Earn an MLT certification from another certifying agency.
The ASCP offers a Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) certification. To be eligible for this certification candidate must meet one of the following education requirements:
- Have an associates degree and complete a NAACLS or ABHES accredited MLT program within the last five years
- Have an associates degree and complete a 50-week military medical laboratory training program
- Have an associate’s degree and three years of acceptable clinical work experience.
Demand for medical lab technicians is strong, and there will be an anticipated 7 percent growth in jobs in this field between 2019 and 2029 (BLS 2021). This translates into 24,700 new jobs in this field in the next decade. The need for professionals in this field stems primarily from the increased demand for medical care from the aging Baby Boomer population. Also, there is a higher prevalence of thorough prenatal testing, adding to the demand for lab tests.
Keep reading to learn more about how much medical lab technicians make, including top-paying industries, states, metropolitan areas, and specializations.
Top-Paying Cities for Medical Lab Technicians
Here is a list of the top-paying metropolitan areas or cities for medical lab technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020). Also included is the estimated number of medical lab technicians in each location, excluding self-employed workers and the mean salary.
|Metropolitan Area||Number of MLTs Employed||Annual Mean Wage|
|Carson City, NV||60||$78,340|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA||70||$77,390|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||300||$75,970|
|Barnstable Town, MA||160||$75,670|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||4,310||$74,520|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||180||$73,140|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||290||$72,760|
Top-Paying States for Medical Lab Technicians
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the top-paying states for medical lab technicians (BLS May 2020):
|State||Number of Medical Laboratory Technicians Employed||Annual Mean Wage|
Top-Paying Specializations and Skills for Medical Lab Technicians
A clinical psychologist can choose any number of specialties. Within each specialty, wages can vary. Five of the highest-paying specializations are listed below along with estimated annual salary, based on self-reported data from PayScale (2020):
|Health and Wellness||$82,347|
|Cognitive Behavioral Therapy||$80,699|
Most Popular Work Environments for Clinical Psychologists
Clinical psychologists work in a variety of settings (BLS 2018):
Many medical lab technicians have specialized skills to work in a particular part of a lab. This can result in higher earnings as well as increased employability and ease in finding work. Listed below are five skills. Here are some top skills and corresponding salary based on self-reported data from PayScale.com (2021):
|Specialization or Skill||Average Hourly Salary|
|Phlebotomy||$20.36 per hour|
|Technical Analysis||$21.56 per hour|
|Quality Assurance and Quality Control||$20.70 per hour|
|Troubleshooting||$21.53 per hour|
|Optical Microscope||$21.57 per hour|
Top-Paying Industries for Medical Lab Technicians
Based on data from BLS (May 2020), here are the top-paying industries for medical lab technicians:
|Industry||Employment of MLTs||Annual Mean Wage|
|Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers||30||$87,110|
|Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers||150||$70,140|
|Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing||150||$69,700|
|Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing||Estimate not released||$64,640|
|Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals||3,760||$64,180|
Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.