Lab Technician Certification, Diploma and Certificate Programs
Lab technicians handle tissue and fluid samples, analyzing them to generate data used by doctors or researchers for a variety of purposes. Many different avenues to employment exist for this field, including voluntary certifications and short diploma programs.
Clinical Lab Technician Diploma
Diploma programs are available for those looking to fulfill the requirements for becoming lab technicians. A lab technician diploma program will typically last 1-2 semesters and focus on one core set of skills used in the laboratory. These diploma programs are typically introductory in nature and only require applicants to possess high school diplomas.
Diploma programs provide curricula that are singularly focused in medical laboratory and office procedures. These programs may include courses in the following:
- Medical terminology
- Computer applications in the laboratory
Popular Career Options
Not limited to just lab technician work, students who partake in diploma programs may end up in one of several roles. Some related areas that diploma holders may pursue include the following:
- Laboratory assistance
- Medical assistance
Clinical Lab Technician Certificate
Certificate programs are a more common avenue for becoming a lab technician. These certificate programs may last 15 months or more. Completion of an accredited certificate program qualifies aspiring lab technicians for a variety of positions and national certifications.
Students often need to complete foundational biology and chemistry courses prior to applying for the lab technician certificate program. In addition to courses such as organic chemistry and microbiology, students will need to have valid high school diplomas or equivalent.
Lab technician certificate programs cover the various ways that lab workers analyze and process human tissue and fluid samples. These programs cover topics including the following:
- Cellular biotechnology
- Biotechnology computer programs
In addition to credentials earned from an accredited program, many employers expect their lab technicians to hold voluntary certification by one of many professional organizations, such as the American Medical Technologists and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. Almost all organizations require examinees to have completed an accredited diploma, certificate or other lab technology degree programs, but other certification guidelines vary.
In some states, laboratory personnel are require to be licensed or certified. These licenses often require a bachelor's degree in laboratory technology, which would mean additional education for laboratory technician diploma and certificate holders. It is important to understand that a bachelor's degree is required to work as a laboratory technologist, while only a diploma, certificate or associate's degree is required to work as a lab technician.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov), the field of laboratory technicians was predicted to grow at a healthier than average pace, with almost 16.1% more jobs being created between 2008 and 2018. In 2008, the median salary for laboratory technicians was reported by the BLS to be $35,380.
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