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Lab Technician Certification, Diploma and Certificate Programs

Read about the coursework commonly included in a clinical lab technician diploma and certificate program. Find out if there's a rise in employment projected, what an individual might earn and whether licensure or certification is required.

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Essential Information

Short-term diploma and certificate programs for lab technicians allow graduates to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation, pending any state licensure requirements. Both types of programs address similar topics, including serology, phlebotomy and laboratory computer applications, but the certificate program includes more in-depth coverage of lab subjects. Admissions requirements vary by school and program, but may include a high school diploma and basic science courses. Professional certification is optional, but is often sought by employers.


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.

Program Coursework

Diploma programs provide curricula that are singularly focused in medical laboratory and office procedures. These programs may include courses in the following:

  • Hematology
  • Serology
  • Microscopy
  • Medical terminology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Computer applications in the laboratory
  • Psychology

Popular Career Options

Lab technicians handle tissue and fluid samples, analyzing them to generate data used by doctors or researchers for a variety of purposes. 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
  • Phlebotomy
  • 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.

Educational Prerequisites

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.

Program Coursework

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:

  • Serology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Urinalysis
  • Cellular biotechnology
  • Biotechnology computer programs

Continuing Education

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.

Licensure

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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