What Is a Medical Technologist?
Share this Article
- Medical technologists work in many healthcare, laboratory, and medical settings to run complex tests on organic matter.
- Most medical technologists hold a bachelor's degree, although some roles only require an associate degree.
- Medical technologists have more advanced skills than laboratory technicians and take on more responsibility.
It's not just doctors and nurses who keep hospitals afloat. It's all the extra helping hands — like medical technologists — too.
Medical professionals who can expertly process, test, and analyze human samples perform critical tasks within the healthcare system. Plus, becoming a medical technologist can open the door to meaningful work that pays an above-average salary.
BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Ready to Start Your Journey?
Keep reading to learn about the important jobs these professionals perform, where they work, and how to enter the field.
What Is a Medical Technologist?
Also known as clinical laboratory technologists, medical technologists perform tests on bodily tissues, blood, urine, and other fluids to help physicians and nurses determine the causes of illness and disease.
Many people choose medical technology as an entrance point to the healthcare world since some roles require only two years of study. But many medical technologists also earn certification before finding work.
As a medical tech, you can also specialize in many areas, including immunohematology, immunology, and chemistry. Cytotechnology and microbiology are two other options.
What Does a Medical Technologist Do?
Working under the supervision of medical professionals, medical technologists analyze samples through microscopes, cell counters, and other advanced technology. They carefully record each patient's results before reporting them back to the physician in charge.
Medical technologists in laboratory facilities may test samples from hospitals and clinics in the region. After testing samples, they may create reports and send back their findings.
You can work as a medical technologist in various settings, including hospitals, medical and diagnostic labs, and physicians' offices. Other locations include higher education settings and outpatient care centers.
What Are the Requirements to Become a Medical Technologist?
If you're looking for a job in the healthcare field that requires minimal education, as well as good communication and problem-solving skills, then becoming a medical technologist might be the career for you.
Effective medical technologists have a blend of skills that help them in the laboratory and when communicating with healthcare professionals. Common skills that come in handy as a medical tech include:
Attention to detail
A knack for problem-solving
The ability to analyze data and synthesize findings
An understanding of scientific and mathematical principles
Strong written and verbal skills
While a bachelor's degree in a health science field can give you a leg up in the job search, it's not a necessity. In fact, some entry-level positions accept job-seekers with associate degrees.
But keep in mind: Some employers will require you to earn certification. You can earn your certification from professional organizations, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Association of Bioanalysts, and American Medical Technologists.
What Is the Average Medical Technologist Salary?
As of February 2023, medical technologists earned an average annual salary of $60,940, according to Payscale. Meanwhile, those in the top 10% of technologists made $85,000 per year.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Technologists
What are the different types of technologists in healthcare?
There are many different types of medical technologists that process and analyze laboratory samples based on their needs and uses.
For example, professionals working in immunohematology gather and prepare blood used in transfusions. Those focused on immunology review samples that help physicians better understand how the immune system responds to foreign substances. Other common types of technologists include those focused on chemistry, cytotechnology, and microbiology.
How long does it take to become a medical technologist?
Most medical technology jobs require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree. These programs require four years of full-time study or about six years of part-time study.
If you hold an associate degree, you may qualify for some entry-level roles. Associate programs usually require about two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study.
What's the difference between a lab technician and a medical technologist?
Lab technicians work in similar spaces as medical technologists but take on less responsibility.
Lab technicians often maintain lab equipment, collect patient samples, prepare samples for testing, and conduct basic tests. Medical technologists have the advanced skills to perform complex tests on organic materials and provide analyzed results.