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Certified Medical Tech Education Requirements and Job Duties

The term medical tech may apply to medical technologists or medical technicians. These professionals work in clinical laboratories, using high-tech equipment to test and analyze body fluid and cell samples. Medical technologists usually hold a bachelor's degree while medical technicians most frequently hold an associate's degree or a certificate.

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Certified Medical Technologist Education Requirements

Most medical technologist or clinical laboratory technologist positions require that candidates hold a bachelor's degree in either medical technology or a natural science. Some technologist jobs can be obtained with a combination of hands-on training and formal lab tech training.

Degree programs for medical technology generally consist of three years of classroom study and one year of clinical experience. Medical technologist coursework covers biology, microbiology, chemistry, immunology and hematology. Additionally, students complete general education courses, which may include mathematics, statistics, computer science and management. Schools offering accredited programs in medical technology can be found at the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (www.naacls.org).

Job Duties

Certified medical technologists work with physicians to make diagnoses and monitor a patient's treatment in hospital settings. Medical technologists perform complex tests and analyses of fluid and cell samples using advanced, state-of-the-art technology. This information is used to measure glucose or cholesterol levels, determine blood type or detect the presence of bacteria, parasites and other diseases. Additionally, medical technologists are expected to pay close attention to detail and demonstrate strong computer, analytical, problem-solving and communication skills.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment to grow by 14% between 2008-2018, due to the increase in population and the increase in new tests developed (www.bls.gov). Also according to the BLS, the median annual salary for medical technologists in May of 2008 was $53,500.

Certified Medical Technician Education Requirements

Medical technicians generally complete associate's degree or certificate programs in medical or clinical lab technology at technical or community colleges. These programs are typically two years in length, engaging students in basic sciences, like anatomy and physiology, chemistry and microbiology, as well as medical technician coursework in phlebotomy, hematology, serology and urinalysis. Students also participate in clinical practica, which offer hands-on experience performing tests and drawing blood in a clinical laboratory.

Job Duties

Medical technicians are responsible for executing tests and lab procedures, which are less complex than those performed by medical technologists. They test blood samples for chemical and drug levels, operate automated analyzers, prepare specimens for analysis and perform manual tests. Technicians customarily work under the supervision of medical technologists.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the median salary for medical technicians was $36,030 in May 2008. The BLS groups medical technologist and medical technician job outlooks in the same report; the excellent 14% job growth rate projected for medical technologists is also expected for medical technicians, who may advance to medical technologists.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics